Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, self-actualization.
Moms and Dads of High-Needs' Babies: A shower every once in a while.
Whether you're tackling common newborn and infant issues such as reflux, colic and sleep issues, or more complicated and chronic challenges in your life, for every child there is a cause to care (and an incredibly important reason to take care of yourself).
My message to you - as always - is to hang in there and find a way to make yourself smile amidst the chaos.
Perhaps it's volunteering to help other families in need, or as simple as demanding to drink your coffee hot.
I encourage you to not only find your favorite activities, but also your "non-negotiables," and call on them regularly to build strength, renewal and energy to take on whatever challenge is ahead.
Best wishes to you this season and for many smiles in 2017.
Becoming a mom came as quite a shock to me.
Yes I understood the science behind it, and was fully present for the joys and woes that are pregnancy and childbirth, but as a general schema the impact of parenthood was both abrupt and lasting.
Opting to return to work less than six weeks after giving birth…well that was near traumatic. The wounds were barely healed, and there I was, buckling my seatbelt, chugging my tear-filled coffee.
It was about this time when I discovered blogging as therapy: both in reading others and composing some of my own; a living journal of sorts.
Early on I knew I would need something to make sense of what I was going through.
Away from my newborn more than 10 hours/day while at work; up most of the night while he learned how to sleep; lacking exercise and general health because of these factors; and feeling hopelessly inadequate in all areas of life (and having these feelings validated at the worst times).
I wish I could remember or find the original source to share, but in my web-browsing I found an article with a theme that stuck with me: one chair at a time.
You’re either at your desk (or whatever work you do), at home with your kids, or fulfilling another obligation.
You can’t do anything all that well if your mind is still stuck in a different chair than the one with the tasks at need right in front of you. It’s a literal detachment from everything else so you can focus. Maybe it sounds harsh but it’s reality.
It reached me at exactly the right time, because my next chair was going to be have to be a therapist’s couch.
It was liberating in a way. I was hyper productive during my work hours, feeling like I did the work of two people but that’s another story, and felt no guilt unplugging at 5 p.m. for family focus time during off hours and weekends.
What I've learned
Fast-forward five years, so what have I learned?
1. Maternal Instincts: If you’re like me, parenthood can take you by surprise. If you will continue to work after having children, by choice or circumstance, be diligent in finding an employer that offers the right maternity leave plan for your life (paid or non-paid). Trust your gut with major decisions like this because it's the only thing without its own agenda!
2. Multipliers: I also learned an obvious yet genius technique when purposeful thought is put in – multipliers. I write this as my kids play outside, so I can supervise but they don’t really want or need me bugging them. I do the same with exercise, cooking, shopping, meal making etc. I say often, 'this is family time,' whether we are working together, cleaning the house or watching a movie. Chores aren’t as horrible when you feel like you’re spending time together (good for marriages too..yet another post).
3. Move: Don’t sit too long in one place: make exercise a priority. No, not so you can land a spot on the hot mom bod calendar. Your brain needs exercise as much as the rest of your body.
I’ve broken the chair rules a bit, and with good reason. If something distracts me from work (two kids and a life will do that; it’s ok to do work at home and on weekends), I've realized that it doesn't have to take you down with it.
What might, is feeling such resentment either way because there is no blend. I can feel this when I’m leaning too in, versus paying too less attention to my career development. Don't think in and out, think back and forth!
When in doubt, find an easy chair or outdoor recliner, and take 20 minutes to lean back, breathe deep, and appreciate all that you're working for and accomplish each day.
• Work as if your paycheck depends on it. (yes, that it does, don’t forget it)
• Blog like no one is reading. (After looking at old posts I’ve written, I’m thinking this is a good thing)
• Sneak away for a nap when no one is looking (okay, maybe you should tell someone so they don’t report you missing)
I often wonder what parenting was like in the olden days. Such as anytime in history, say, before 60-75 years ago or so.
Moms had to rely on their actual village for learning and advice; not the ones they could find online.
They may or may not have had access to a doctor-like figure, making first opinions the norm (whether from their own mother, relatives and the like). Frankly, it's hard to imagine.
That's why being overly informed today, can be overly annoying and overwhelming. We challenge everything: from the advice of actual medical professionals who've put the time, student loans, and actual practice behind their suggestions and prescriptions, to our gut feelings, and observations and recommendations from those we trust most.
That said, when it comes to matters of reflux, colic, sleep issues and general fussiness, there is a breaking point where statements meant to be helpful or mood-lightening are simply gag-worthy.
My favorites are below, and while I'm sure there's more, I couldn't find the energy to regurgitate them all in one post.
"Reflux is the new colic."
Babies spit up. Babies cry. Babies don't sleep. It's just an excuse for parents to find an easy fix to deal with a naturally fussy baby. We're so used to quick solutions for our problems that we demand a diagnosis, even when one is unclear.
While I won't go down this rocky road on this site (18 months of spit up on every surface of the house put me on the other side of this line of thinking), I can see the rationale behind those with this argument. Simple Twitter hashtag searches for things like #infantreflux, #reflux, #babyreflux, and you'll see the volume of angst out there.
The spit up is real for many families, and since many experts debate the existence of colic anyway, let's just put this one to rest.
"Reflux is your laundry problem."
Ok, so maybe we are all caught in the uproar that reflux is over-diagnosed, over-medicated and over-reacted to by caregivers. But this phrase is just a slap in the face and does nothing to help us when we're hanging on the brink of sanity (and extended periods of no sleep). We already have mounds of mounds of regular laundry, so let's try to make jest of the situation with a witty comment? But oh yes, "the dishes can wait" while we must savor each moment of parenthood, so as long as the health department doesn't pay a visit.
"Get a second opinion."
This goes without saying that you shouldn't rely on the advice or opinion of just one resource (especially a website you find in the middle of night like DownWithSpitup.com wink wink).
You can do your own research to build your knowledge base, as long as you are relying on the advising of a medical professional, who has spent years-upon-years studying and practicing the subject matter at hand.
However, not all second opinions help to calm the situation. In her recent post, Tongue Tie, Reflux or just Fussy? Suzanne "MummytoTwins" highlights the confusion and bitterness that comes with conflicting opinions, even professional ones.
"As a mother it is very confusing and annoying to have such conflicting views. What do you do? Do you continue to see someone for a tongue tie that a surgeon says is not there? Or do you just let it be."
With a Grain of Salt
I admit this post wasn't one of my most rewarding to write, but cathartic nonetheless. If you've ever encountered with these and other cringe-worthy blanket statements, just remember: parenting comes with a side of snarkiness, and without a doubt, "this too shall pass" (couldn't resist).
What parenting quips turn your stomach? No better time than the present to get them all out!
Dear, friend, colleague, distant family member, or stranger from the Internet,
Please don't. Thank you.
Ok so if that's not good enough, I will offer my extended response below. You've been warned:
First of all, wow, I am flattered that of all of your contacts you've selected ME to your exclusive group, be it a new fitness challenge, your fat-busting miracle wraps, or life-changing line of beauty products, etc.
Maybe it was that recent family photo where I was looking a little softer in the middle and tired around the eyes, or the snap of me and my kid baking those cookies together with the big globs of frosting. Or possibly it was from that 5K group photo...I mean I did look a bit sweaty at the end...
Maybe I simply appear to be a driven person, and I'd just be a great addition to your team and achieving the important goals you're setting. #NewYearsResolutions and #FitnessGoals anyone!?
And pyramids are definitely my favorite of the schemes out there, because the success just keeps growing, and it's like started by the Egyptians right? So yea, definitely on your wavelength, but I digest.
With all of this, I will have to respectfully decline this offer. Sorry, but this year, of all the years, I'm just feeling pretty damn good. Yea, I still have some baby weight (definitely won't be showing off any-pack of abs at the community pool this summer) but I've had some really good times:
I do finally prefer my lap to be a comfy place to land for anyone who needs it (especially my lap dogs). I like to run and do cardio because it relieves stress, and lifting weights make it easier to tackle just about anything (or anyone if need be). I also want my sons to grow up knowing that women can be strong, and soft, and come in all shapes and forms of beauty.
I know we're at that wonderful time of year where women reflect on the trials and tribulations of the past 12 months, and flog themselves after every bite of indulgent treat or swig of holiday spirits. Been there and done that since I hit puberty and wanted boys to like me, and I've wasted a hell of a lot of time.
Today, I'm still me, and still have bouts of self-doubt and loathing, but more grateful for ever what I have. I know have infinite room to improve, but please, just let me have this time to just be.
I applaud your efforts to use the power of social media to spread the word. I mean people need to be reminded that health is their true wealth. And beauty is their true currency. And fear is the root of all evil. And life is a box of chocolates. I know it, I feel ya, and I'm with ya, if only in spirit here.
Again, thanks so much for thinking of me, but I really do need to focus on MY new program I'm really jazzed about. In fact, I will be shortly sending you an invite to join my new page called "Train Your Best. Tuck the Rest."
It's all about living your life on your terms, taking your mind off being perfect, and investing in some nice shapewear garments for the times when you don't want it to all hang out. It's catching on and I can't wait to show you the before and afters. I'm looking for 12 motivated individuals ready to not change their life all that much, let me know if you're in.
Until then, best of luck with your programs, and try to catch me on the next one!
Comfortably Content in Cleveland (for now)
*Disclaimer - if not evident - this is sarcasm, trying to shed humor on a serious subject.
I really do wish goodwill for those trying new things in the new year to change their lives. Behavior change is virtually impossible without extreme focus and energy, and frankly I'm just distracted and likely sleep-deprived as I write this. Get at it!
Round 2 of winter bugs just can't seem to leave us alone. Be back soon to talking my regular spit!
This post was originally up in Feb of 2014, and re-sharing in 2015 because it fits just right.
Every year, around this time, I take an extended stay-cation over the 4th of July holiday. I do the same over Christmas break. Having worked full-time since my senior year of college, and through two babies, it's my chance to immerse in a life I don't usually have.
It's not breaking news that some women actually like to work, enjoy what they do, and have invested in themselves and careers. For our family, it wouldn't matter if all those stars aligned or didn't (luckily they do) but I would still have to work at this juncture. No cutting out cable or clipping coupons would make a difference, believe me or not. I'd venture to say that most women don't really have such a clear-cut choice when it comes to this decision...and since I'm on vacation...this post is not even going to go there!
So, here are three things I think I personally would do if I had the chance to be a stay-at-homer, based on my limited experiences of stay-cations and maternity leaves. I'd love to hear from actual home-based moms to see how off, or on, I really am.
Joke as I may, I wouldn't trade my life, and my focused and quality time with my family during these times, for a limitless tab open at all JoAnn craft and fabric stores.
And who knows - maybe I could hang with the best of them - but if I never find out, today I am happy hanging with my buddies, in a clean house, full of unfinished projects, in sweatpants.
By the way, if you'd like a further peek into my mind and world, follow me on Pinterest! I have a whole board on Down With Spitup related pins.
Over winter break our family invested in our new family truckster. Well new to us at least.
It's the first car I've owned that has a manual "M" driving option. My husband geeked out over it but you won't see me shifting that way, at least not on purpose. But it did get me thinking about how it might feel to really be in control of this massive machine.
Every time I drive now I can't help but wish I had a master gear stick to control my life.
P - PARK
Give me a break. A mental pause. A week without laundry. I'd settle for a free kit kat.
D - DRIVE
Just let 'er rip! Move on, move up or simply kiss goodbye to the past in the rear view mirror.
R - REVERSE
Some moments we'd love to relive and others we'd love to redo. Or words we'd like to take back. I'd like to start with getting back my pre-preg belly button or ability to stay up past 9 p.m.
N - NEUTRAL
Could all just be calm for just a short period of time? Nothing too high or too low. Like, could our [insert pet, child, body part, appliance] ...just...not...for a day.
M - MANUAL
Just get outta the way. I'm taking control and throwing caution to the wind. Nothing can stop me. I'm doing it this time. Kicking it into high gear. Oh wait, I ran out of gas. See P - PARK.
Too often I feel like outside forces are behind the wheel, while I'm desperately trying to give directions on how to drive and where to go. And then there are the other drivers on the road; what nerve.
What brings me peace in a chaotic life is actually my A - AIRBAG. That pillow, on my bed, that I sometimes get to rest on.
What would you do if you had a gear shift for your life?
The jury is still out on infant reflux. What causes it? What's the best course treatment? Etc. There are no clear answers.
What parents do know is that there are events that make a bad situation worse. Things that either cause the symptoms to worsen and/or the effects of treatment to lessen.
These include, but aren't limited to:
I personally wouldn't argue some of these with a doctor; I tried. There may not be a lot of evidence to support that one is making the other worse, or vice versa. Teething is a big one here (my kids did get fevers and runny noses and more, I swear!)
However, things like this are simple truths and part of the reality of caring for an infant with reflux.
You will spend countless energy trying to isolate common triggers for your child and what will exacerbate the situation. Then, your child will grow, or the situation will change, and you'll face a new set of factors.
There's a flip side too. Not everything that happens may be tied to the reflux, even though that's the main concern when you wake up each day.
I know there were times where I thought an issue was from reflux, when it was actually another issue. I was so caught in managing the reflux that I lost sight of possible other causes for the distress, ex. an ear infection.
What's important is to stay closely in tune with your child's symptoms and behaviors: daily, weekly, yearly and with your parenting sixth sense. It's also important to forgive yourself if you've missed something along the way or didn't make a connection.
You are only human taking care of another human, and you're not alone.
What have you found that amplifies your child's condition?
P.S. When all else fails visit http://www.nooooooooooooooo.com and press the button.
I heard the founder, a well-known marketing speaker, speak at a conference last year where he shared his web stats on his page, wow. Been waiting for a chance to share it on my blog:)
What did the year 2014 add to your life's scrapbook? I hope the ups and downs you've faced as a parent or caregiver has made you stronger and more-than-ready to bring on the challenges of 2015!
Below are the top 5 viewed articles from our first year of Down With Spit Up! It's not surprising that many combine a bit of humor and sass with the tough realities that families face.
Whatever it takes to keep you moving forward is what I want to continue to focus and deliver through this resource site.
We're just getting started and always welcome your ideas and challenges for future resources and topics.
Toast to you for a happy, healthy and sleep-filled 2015!
Five Christmases ago, Riley Chuck Norris Schmitz entered our life. Well to be frank, we rescued him, sick as a dog can be, from a poor situation and likely a tragic end to a short life. Then, the following spring, Cooper the Bichon joined our pack.
But this post isn't about why you should rescue/adopt versus supporting the true hellholes that are mall pet shops or dog brokers. Or why a pet isn't an appropriate holiday gift for kids, unless of course, your hearts and wallets have been ripped right open to the lifelong commitment (subtle aren't I?)
No, this post is about the positives and negatives you may experience if you open your home to furry friends and human babies, simultaneously, inspired by my one very long Sunday alone with my wee ones.
1. Your Personal Development
PRO: Taking care of a living thing helps better prepare you to take care of other types of living things.
CON: You can't leave your home for any amount of time without having a plan for how these living things will fare either running the house, safe in their crates, or in the care of another human being that is not you.
2. Your Financial Savvy
PRO: With both, you are forced to learn to budget and plan financially to attend to their critical needs, and for the unforeseen events that will arise. Think vet bills, supplies, special foods for weak stomaches for dogs; or diapers, baby wipes, and the latest in toddler wearable technology to keep your kid ahead of his playdate peers (I joke, I hope).
CON: Any previous "disposable" income of yours is, in fact, now more disposed of than ever, and much feels like its flushed down disposal-type appliances.
3. Your Hygiene in the Home
PRO: As your babies grow and learn to feed themselves, the large percentage that doesn't quite make it to their mouths will end up on chairs, clothes and the floor. Dogs are great for helping clean up here, and even more, will sometimes take care of food from the table that you haven't even served yet, eliminating all chance of messes. How thoughtful they are! They will even clean up spit up off the floor and carpet if you let them. You can also buy products that pull double duty with kids and pet messes, thus creating efficiencies in your shopping.
CON: Your dogs may take their mission too far. No, I did not need you to clean out the kids potty while I was busy celebrating the accomplishment! No I did not need you to seek and destroy snacks and juice boxes from my diaper bag and leave the garbage scattered throughout the room; nor eat half the box of wipes you snagged from the shelf when I was home (that was a fun couple of days in the yard outside). And thanks for also leaving your own messes in each room of the house because we didn't take you with us to Target.
4. Your Patience Threshold
PRO: Your patience will grow.
CON: Your patience will wane.
5. Your Heart & Soul
PRO: Not only is running after kids or puppies is an underrated form of cardio, but just one look into those beautiful innocent eyes, and your spirit can soar to the moon (no matter who or what just drug the whole roll of toilet paper into the hallway). Plus those moments when you catch them in a cuddle together...my word.
CON: You will lose sleep and likely your youthful glow worrying about these precious buddies. But that's what true love is all about.
Would love to hear your experiences!
Spit Up Support Blog
Yea, I went there. Nearly half of all babies spit up, regularly. Some more, some less, and for many it's just plain scary.
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