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Smart Moms Put it in Writing

For a better getaway, leave way more information than you think any babysitter could possibly need.

I finally took my own advice. Following three years without a break, I took some time off. Three glorious days involving my husband, a hot-stone massage and adults-only dinners. I slept late, meditated, devoured a book (Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson… a MUST read) and basically found my center again.

Leading up to this event was anything but relaxing. I tossed and turned thinking of all the logistics involved in leaving three children for three days. I filled out medical consent forms for each child, wrote out instructions for each day of my absence, and updated my Baby Love Carebook to detail daily routines for our youngest daughter.

My husband teased me about all the work, rhetorically asking, “You do know your mom has done this before, right?”

Of course I know my capable replacement has babysat before (and raised three children of her own.) If I didn’t feel confident, the trip would never have been a possibility. The fact remains, details will make or break a babysitting assignment. The more information you leave behind, the fewer questions your replacement will have.

When my mom showed up the evening before our departure, I laid out all the paperwork. She heaved a big sigh of relief upon seeing the signed medical consent forms. She read through the three pages of instructions and remarked that I had answered all her questions. She jotted down a few notes of her own then went off to spend time with her granddaughters.

Despite tornado warnings and my mother getting sick on the first evening, we had no major catastrophes. There was only one event that prompted a phone call and a little intervention from grandpa to fix a broken CD player. The girls behaved wonderfully and really enjoyed the extra time spent with their grandma.

My husband and I were able to see each other as people again, not just parents. This was a business retreat with other managers from his company, so I was able to spend time with his coworkers and spouses. It helped give me a deeper perspective on how he spends his time away from home. My husband was also able to see me engaged in conversations with his peers. After eight years of parenting, and 13 years of marriage, this type of interaction has become rare and precious for us. I’m so very grateful we had the chance to reconnect in this way.

On the last morning of our stay, I perused the lavish hotel shops in search of a small token of appreciation for my mom. As the cashier was wrapping up a beautiful silk and velvet scarf and an adorable set of angel magnets, I noticed some note pads. I get my list-making passion from my mother, and know how much she likes a decorative place to write things down. I selected one to put on top of the other gifts, so that this sentiment would be visible upon opening the box: “Smart Women Put it in Writing.”  True. So true.

Mom Dare: Put it in writing. Whatever “it” is for you. Write down your daily routines; you just might discover a pattern or inconsistency you had not realized was there. Complete a medical consent form because you just never know when you might need it. (I got mine from our pediatrician.) Write down your meals, especially if you suspect your child has a food intolerance or if you are struggling to take off a few pounds. Write a love letter to your spouse. Let him know how much he means to you, even though your daily grind may not give you the time you once had.

What are your other suggestions of things to record in writing? How did it help you to write it down?

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Moms Need a Timeout: 3 Tips and 3 Reasons

Envision your ideal Mamacation; then go do the next best thing...

“Sleep when the baby sleeps.”

“Don’t worry about chores, sleep whenever possible.”

“Schedule regular date nights with your spouse.”

These are all words of wisdom that I was offered upon becoming a new mother. I’ve even repeated these tidbits to other new moms. But here’s the question: how do you really take a break if you’re a new parent?

1.) Ask for Help

NEVER turn down an offer of help and be VERY specific about what kind of help you would like. If a friend or family member asks if you need help, don’t reply with, “Sure, some help would be great.” Instead, say, “Would you mind bringing over dinner one night this week?”

Or, maybe you could call a friend and ask for them to watch your child while you take a nap, see a movie or grab some exercise. It doesn’t matter so much what you are doing on your time off as long as the activity is restorative to you.

2.) Schedule “Me” Time

Experienced moms will tell you to schedule a break for yourself. It can be as short as a few minutes or an afternoon or evening all to yourself (or hopefully, with your spouse.) You must put it on the calendar and really prepare for it. Leave lots of instructions. Whether your babysitter needs the advice or not, you will be more at ease knowing you’ve provided lots of information.

3.) Examine Your Reluctance

Many stay-at-home moms become workaholics. We take our new job very seriously and assume that our role is irreplaceable. Well, it’s true that you are the most important person in your new baby’s life right now. But letting go of the reigns for a few hours to improve yourself is important for the whole family. If you have been reluctant to get help from family or a professional so that you can have a break, are you being honest with yourself about the reason?

Guilt. Finances. Fear. Those are three top reasons moms give for doing all the childcare work themselves. “I quit my job and gave up my salary to do this, so it’s my responsibility.” Even hourly workers are typically allowed sick or personal days on the job. There is no shame in taking personal time as a mom.

Breastfeeding is another excuse. I nursed all three of my children. The first for 15 months; then 14 months (she was a biter); and the baby was still going strong until she was 17 months old. With a little planning, you can still take time off despite being the sole provider of baby’s nutritional needs. I didn’t enjoy pumping, and my babies were allergic to formula, but it was a small amount of effort to get a break.

Why are Breaks so Important?

If you’re starting to understand how to take your break, but still reluctant to try, let’s look at the reasons why you should put in the effort.

1.) Reduces your risk of caregiver burnout and depression.

A recent study tracked nearly 87,000 families in the United Kingdom between 1993 and 2007, and found the highest risk for depression occurred in the first year after a child’s birth.

“After the first year of parenting, a mother’s risk for depression dropped by half, while experienced fathers faced only about a quarter of the depression risk compared with new fathers.” (Source: The New York Times)

What’s important in the results of this study is that both mothers and fathers experience in increased rate of depression during that first year. Most studies focus only on mothers and postpartum depression, but fathers are at risk, too.

Many studies have been conducted on family caregivers. Caregivers are defined as anyone providing assistance to someone else who is, in some degree, incapacitated. Caregiver stress and burnout are well-documented and startling.

40% to 70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression with approximately a quarter to half of these caregivers meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression. (Source: Zarit, S. (2006). Assessment of Family Caregivers: A Research Perspective)

Family caregivers experiencing extreme stress have been shown to age prematurely. This level of stress can take as much as 10 years off a family caregiver’s life. (Source: Elissa S. Epel, Dept of Psychiatry, Univ of Calif, SF, et al, From the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dec 7, 2004, Vol 101, No. 49.)

2.) Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, Really.

Research conducted by Julia Vormbrock, Ph.D., and others, shows that children grow more fond of their caregivers when they’re separated from them – at least for a few days. After two weeks of separation, however, most children become “detached,” reports Vormbrock. Many attachment parenting experts believe that the detachment phase begins closer to three days in children less than three years of age. So, while an extended trip away from your children may not result in a positive outcome in your relationships with them, a few hours or an evening away is certainly not harmful.

Getting some time away from your child can indeed give you a fresh perspective, especially if you’re caring for a high-needs or special-needs baby. You can be better able to reattach after a restorative break.

What about during the separation anxiety phase? Usually around 18 months, give or take a few months, your baby will go through separation anxiety when the primary caregiver is not around. If you are right in the thick of separation anxiety, keep your breaks to a minimum, or find a way to take a break during naps or at night when your child is sleeping. Forcing your child to cope with your absence during this phase can often make them more upset and insecure. I promise that with healthy bonds and lots of patience, this period will pass rather quickly.

3.) Encourages Children to Bond with Other Caregivers

Your child will also be able to reattach to you when you return. Even if your first few tries at getting away have resulted in leaving a wailing child in another person’s arms, it’s important to remember that your child really does forget about you shortly after you leave. Not in a permanent or debilitating way, they just focus their attention on someone or something else.

Without you there, they begin to take notice of this new caregiver in front of them and will have the opportunity to form a healthy attachment with them. This is especially important if the back-up caregiver is your spouse or a grandparent who has not previously been given access to one-on-one care.

MOM DARE: If you’re the primary caregiver of one or more children, take a break. Schedule a date night with your spouse or girlfriends. Make sure you are doing this at least once a month. Your connections to your husband, close family members and your friends are vitally important to you. While having children definitely limits the amount of time you have to spend on these relationships, the importance of them does not diminish. Think of it as a mini Mamacation; and make the most of any time you can carve out for yourself.

Grace and Peace (or Peace and Quiet)

To subscribe to my weekly message and to take on other Mom Dares, enter your e-mail on the right under subscriptions, or you can visit at www.babylovecarebook.com

 

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Mom, Could You Pencil Me in for a Nap?

"Seriously. Don't feed me again, I'm tired."

One of the most debated and misunderstood tools of parenting has got to be the implementation of a routine. Personally, I think there is some major confusion going on about what a routine is and why it is used. After more than eight years of attachment parenting, I’ve come to realize that routine and schedule are not dirty words, they are simply a reality.

A Routine is Not a Schedule; A Schedule is Not a Routine

While these words often get used interchangeably, they are definitely not the same. Let’s say, for example, you wake baby up at 7 a.m. every day, eat breakfast at 7:15 and are out the door by 8 a.m. This is a schedule.

On the other hand, if baby wakes up (usually at 7 a.m.), gets a diaper change, nurses for about 20 minutes, followed by playtime, then one more diaper check and it’s time to leave the house. This is a routine. It may be bound by some time restrictions, but it’s a consistent set of activities that take place each day in the same order. Your baby knows that as soon as diaper is changed, eating will begin, then playtime.

When you are not bound by a schedule (from work, older siblings or your own daily agenda), a routine can be very flexible. You could let baby sleep in if teething or illness prevented a good night’s sleep, but you would stick with the consistent order of activities. If your baby normally stays awake for 3 hours before needing a nap, you would simply count 3 hours from the time baby woke up to readjust the nap.

Or perhaps you will need to be somewhere outside the home during a time when your baby is usually napping. Clearly adjustments need to be made. My youngest daughter’s natural rhythm involved an afternoon nap at 1 p.m. Unfortunately, this is when her older sister needed to be picked up from school. (The car ride was only a few minutes, not long enough for an actual nap.) I had to tweak her natural routine a bit to meet her needs while still meeting the needs of our family. So, in this regard, our routines are driven by the schedules of all five people in our family.

Why does it matter? Science knows.

Ah, that’s the real question. Whether parents want to believe it or not, routines make happier babies. They cry less because they know what to expect. They don’t need to cry out in hunger or tiredness, because those needs are met before they become urgent. Personally, I fell into a routine almost by accident and, oh, how I wish I had saved myself the eight months of exhaustion and simply set up some consistent routines from the start. (You can read more about that at Confessions of a Disorganized Mom.)

But, there’s research to back up the importance of a routine as well. In June, 2010, a sleep study involving 8,000 children (the largest of it’s kind) revealed the following:

  • Children in households with bedtime rules and children who get adequate sleep score higher on a range of developmental assessments;
  • Results indicate that among sleep habits, having a regular bedtime was the most consistent predictor of positive developmental outcomes at 4 years of age. Scores for receptive and expressive language, phonological awareness, literacy and early math abilities were higher in children whose parents reported having rules about what time their child goes to bed. Having an earlier bedtime also was predictive of higher scores for most developmental measures.

“Getting parents to set bedtime routines can be an important way to make a significant impact on childrens’ emergent literacy and language skills,” said lead author Erika Gaylor, Ph.D., early childhood policy researcher for SRI International, an independent, nonprofit research institute in Menlo Park, Calif. (SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, June 7, 2010, read full text here.)

Behavioral Impact of Routines

Literacy and language skills are one thing, but behavioral improvements can drastically impact a household. The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL is now a part of Vanderbilt University, one of the leaders in autism research) published a reference manual for early childhood teachers titled “Helping Children Understand Routines and Classroom Schedules”. Here’s an excerpt:

Studies have documented that schedules and routines influence children’s emotional, cognitive, and social development. For example, predictable and consistent schedules in preschool classrooms help children feel secure and comfortable.

Also, schedules and routines help children understand the expectations of the environment and reduce the frequency of behavior problems, such as tantrums and acts of aggression. Activity schedules that give children choices, balanced and planned activities (small vs. large groups, quiet times vs. active times, teacher directed vs. child directed, indoor vs. outdoor), and individualized activities result in a high rate of child engagement. (Read more here.)

Let me repeat that last sentence about the importance of activity schedules that give children choices. Many parents resist routines because they fear it will become too rigid or create a child who is unable to be flexible when necessary. What happens, however, is just the opposite. Children become more adept at making choices based upon what is available to them; as opposed to demanding something that they simply expect will be available.

A Routine is not a Label, It’s an Action

Our children are at our mercy. We set the tone and the pace of their days. As a parent, I strive to create a flexible, fun and nurturing environment for my three daughters that respects the unique needs of each child, and I help many new parents do the same.

I also advise new parents that for the first four months your routine is this:
Fall in love with your baby, eat healthy foods, get more sleep.

MOM DARE: The key to setting up a positive routine is to resist the notion that “one-size-fits-all”, and develop a strategy that respects the individual needs of each member of your family (including yourself). If you don’t have a consistent routine for your young child, this is the week to try it. Write everything down to see what works best. Then repeat. If you need help based on the age of your baby, write a comment or question here. I’ve got sample routines that I can post.

Grace and Peace.

To subscribe to my weekly message and to take on other Mom Dares, enter your e-mail on the right under subscriptions, or you can visit at www.babylovecarebook.com

 

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How Stay-at-Home Moms are Compensated

Bonus check: our family portrait 2010.

This weekend I was paid a compliment by a close friend and family member. She thanked me for all I had taught her about mothering and expressed joy in spending time with me and my girls. I was humbled by her kind words, and admitted that I’ve never really considered myself all that great at being a mom. But I do try hard, and I strive to be better today than I was yesterday. While appreciating her sentiments, I thought about the term “paid a compliment.” It made me smile because stay-at-home moms must take what we can get in terms of payment.

What are some of your favorite rewards of mothering? I came up with my list (in no particular order) of non-monetary forms of payment:

  1. Wildflower/weed bouquets,
  2. Drawings (especially traced hands turned into birds or trees),
  3. Whispered conversations at bedtime,
  4. Make-believe playtime involving mama doll and baby dolls,
  5. Impromptu serenades by a budding rock/country/classical songstress,
  6. The soft touch of a child’s hand,
  7. A sleeping child in my arms, no matter how young or old they are,
  8. Kind words of appreciation from a spouse or another parent.

I’m reminded that I chose this path for a reason. I willingly gave up my lucrative career (hey, I’m a designer, so lucrative is a subjective word) to raise our children. I knew that the education I received from this job would surpass all other degrees achieved, but possibly unappreciated by future employers. I do sometimes envy moms in other countries who are paid to stay at home. Not so much for the money they receive, but for the validation. Perhaps that’s why we use the term “paid a compliment.” For so many of us, kind words of encouragement are the compensation for the work that we do.

MOM DARE: I’ve issued a similar dare in the past, but it’s worth repeating. This week, offer your words of kindness, encouragement, support or gratitude to the mothers around you. Give them an example of what you notice that impresses you. As moms, it’s so easy to get caught up in the exhaustion and the meltdowns and the never-ending chores. We tend to lose focus of all that is right and dwell only on what’s wrong. Make an effort to be more supportive of mothers around you and watch your own support system grow in the process. We really are in this together, and surely it’s time we all got a raise.

Grace and peace.

To subscribe to my Weekly Bit of Baby Love and to take on other Mom Dares, enter your e-mail on the right under subscriptions.

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Motherhood’s Magic Mirror

It starts off simply enough. I smile, you smile. Then it gets more complicated.

My daughters had a hard time using the word, “please.” I noticed this several years ago, when I was constantly correcting their demands, making them insert the word before I would honor their request. They always said, “Thank you,” just not the “p” word. I remember the moment when I discovered why this phenomenon was occurring and needless to say, it was a head-slapping revelation. I asked my child (about age 4) to do something and she looked at me while asking, “please?” She was correcting my rudeness.

So, I listened in on all my conversations that day. Do I ever use the word? I frequently use the words “thanks” and, “I’m sorry.” I say “you’re welcome” and I always say “I love you” at least twice a day per family member. Somehow I had gotten into the habit of issuing orders without the basic nicety of “please.” It didn’t matter that I was telling my children to always use this word, they were simply mirroring my own behavior. It was so basic. So many trite sayings have formed out of this one constant of human development. Monkey see, monkey do. Do as I say, not as I do. But there it was staring me in the face without me really seeing it.

There are many times in raising children when you need to stop, examine your world through your child’s eyes and ears, and really think about what they are learning from you. Are you telling them not to hit, but spanking them as a form of punishment? Do you raise your voice when angry, but reprimand your child for yelling? (This is one of my uglier problems that I’m still working on.) Do you wish they would interact more with other children, but spend all your time with them instead of making strong connections with other adults?

It’s not easy realizing that your children are so much like you, yet so different. You assume they will only pick up your strengths and excel at the areas you have mastered. In addition to picking up your bad habits, magnifying them and mirroring them back to you like a carnival fun house; children also pick up on your energy. They know when you are tense, sad, angry with your spouse or worried about life. They know instantly when you don’t like someone. Unfortunately, children assume that they are the cause of your negative emotions, not an outside influence. My oldest daughter has the eerie habit of plucking thoughts right out of my head. It happens so often now that I’ve come to accept her ability as yet another reason to focus my thoughts and energy into positive messages.

MOM DARE: Spend this week listening in on your conversations, really hearing yourself the way your child does. Are they imitating you? Can you see how one of their troublesome behaviors could be related to something you have inadvertently taught them? Are you stressed about something and your child is picking up on your anxiety? Try spending a little more time this week reassuring your children that they are doing a good job, that you love them, and that life is truly beautiful. Please.

Grace and peace.

To subscribe to my Weekly Bit of Baby Love and to take on other Mom Dares, enter your e-mail on the right under subscriptions, or you can visit at www.babylovecarebook.com

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What Parents Learn in Preschool

I learned some of my most valuable parenting skills during my days in a cooperative school, where parents assist the full-time teacher.

Once upon a time, I did not understand the benefits of preschool. I assumed it was just daycare for stressed-out SAHMs. Now, eight years and six preschools later, I’m a joyfully converted preschool mom with a deep appreciation for all I’ve learned from our experiences; the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Here are my top five preschool revelations that have helped me be a better parent.

1. Routines are necessary. I learned this the hard way with our first baby, but the concept was reinforced in preschool. Children behave well in a good school because the teachers follow a predictable routine. There is a natural order and rhythm to the child’s day. If you’ve ever wondered how a school can handle a room full of tots with one or two teachers; it’s all about the daily routine. They know how to keep the children engaged in specific activities for the appropriate length of time based on their age. There is no need for time outs or discipline in a good school. Instead, experienced teachers will turn a disagreement into a lesson on empathy and teach the children how to get along. Which brings me to my second revelation.

2. Children must learn how to play with other children. After age two, children take greater notice of the people surrounding them. If there are rarely any children, they will naturally gravitate to adults in all situations. I can always tell which children spend all their time with adults when we are in a group play environment. When I was a parent teacher in a cooperative kindergarten class, it was my primary job to placate the two children who had never been to preschool and did not have similar-aged siblings. Of the ten children in the class, these two needed constant guidance and hand-holding (the kind of care they were accustomed to). They did not get along well with the other children and became easily upset if they were not allowed to make the rules during playtime. I see the same patterns of behavior in the neighborhood and in church groups. Some children are shy, but children without exposure to other children are more comfortable with a grown-up, even one they barely know.

3. Your child is almost certainly not gifted. Let’s face it, we all think our child is developmentally advanced at some point in their lives. In some cases this is true, but it does not make your child a prodigy. All of these skills tend to balance out by the second or third grade. Spending time with a diverse group of children is the best way to understand childhood development. You can easily see why your five-year-old can’t sit still through dinner (NONE of them can). You can also see that while some kids master vocal skills at a younger age, others will master fine motor skills or gross motor skills. It all evens out as all these skills come on line over time.

4. You can’t teach them everything by yourself. There’s a lot you can teach at home, and with good reason. But teaching children how to learn in a group dynamic is not one of them. Teaching your preschool child how to read will not make them smarter or better equipped to handle school. Knowing letters and numbers does not mean that preschool should be skipped. No amount of flash cards, sidewalk chalk writing or frog-encrusted learning games can replace the interpersonal relationships that take place in a group setting. I do not mean to disparage homeschoolers who already know this. In my city, it’s easy to organize weekly field trips or sporting events with groups of other homeschoolers. It appears that smart homeschooling moms have figured out the importance of the group dynamic.

5. Elementary school ain’t what it used to be. I started kindergarten when I was 4 years old and had never been to preschool. This was common in my small town. We were not really expected to know anything walking in the door. Now, thirty-odd years later, children are expected to come to kindergarten with a solid base of knowledge and social skills. And while preschool teaches children all the basics of numbers, letters, shapes, colors and early phonetics; it also allows them to learn these things in a fun, play-based environment. Our public schools no longer have this luxury. The elementary schools have so many standards to perform to that the kids must spend a majority of their time sitting, doing worksheets, taking tests and reading silently. Students are now expected to learn to read independently before first grade. I’ve found that two years of preschool has helped ease my children into the more grueling demands of elementary school. They develop a love of learning in preschool that is sometimes hard to keep going in elementary classrooms. Some elementary teachers have a natural ability to make learning fun, but others sadly do not. That’s when it’s up to me to draw upon all the tricks I learned during their preschool years to help them along and see the fun side of school again.

As we’re preparing for school to start again in August, I’m happy once again about our decision to send the two older girls to preschool. I have no anxieties about my middle girl starting kindergarten because she has proven to me over the past two years that she is ready socially, academically and emotionally to begin school. When the time comes for my youngest daughter to graduate from preschool, I will be sad to say goodbye to these joyful days of handmade presents made in secret, love letters written to special teachers and children who spring out of bed each morning ready and excited for another day of learning disguised as playtime.

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A Fate Worse Than MOM?

What kind of life has replaced your baby bump?

You’ve made it through your cute little baby bump phase, and nine months when all eyes were upon you. You were the center of attention and able to shop for amazingly hip maternity and baby gear (very little of which you currently use). Now, when you do venture out in public, people flock to the child in your arms and you silently will them all to just step back. No one seems to care what you are wearing, how you are feeling or when you last slept for more than four hours. Even your spouse has evolved from dutiful, ultra-concerned husband to barely tolerable man with whom you share a child. It seemed to happen overnight… you became a MOM.

But wait, there’s more. You gave up your career to do this full time, you say? LOL. Now you can’t hold a conversation with your FNBs (friends no babies) to save your life, because their eyes glaze over when you fret over a lost blankie and a little wrinkle appears across their noses when you need to breastfeed. You want your old life back, crappy career and all. And, you even begin to fantasize about being single again. You’re certain your husband will never relate to you (or help out) and you are oh so jealous that he goes to work each day. Could there be a fate worse than this?

Well, yes. Of course there could be, and if you continue down this thought pattern there certainly will be. Because here’s the thing no one ever told you before you jumped on the mommy bandwagon:  Some of it sucks, all of it is hard work and the first year can be one of the most dreadful you can imagine. You are no longer yourself. It’s best to realize this, embrace it and redefine your existence right now. Today. Be better at what you are doing. Don’t try to escape your child, your husband or even your messy, toy-strewn family room. Don’t glamorize the office job that you once dreaded more often than you enjoyed, or the boss that made sure you worked through every holiday cycle. Your career will begin again (if you are lucky enough to have a choice in the matter) and you will re-enter the workforce a wiser, more organized, and more patient person.

You have been given a gift, my friend. Yes, the child you care for is the ultimate gift that is elusive to so many. Have you ever known someone who is unable to conceive or has spent years on an adoption waiting list? Your whining is like salt in their wounds. And, as a bonus gift, you have been given an opportunity to rediscover yourself and your partner. All these years, your life’s journey has just been a hike to base camp. Now is your time to ascend and attempt to summit. Do you want to summit alone, or do you want someone to pull you, push you and sometimes carry you to the top?

So, listen. All tough love aside. If you are feeling this way or have ever felt this way, know that you are not alone. This is not unique to your life or your marriage. I have heard your complaints, I have read your blogs and I know what you are going through. You can have it all (eventually.) Your spouse will become your hero again (probably not in the next week.) You will stop defining your worth in terms of your paycheck (after you stop shopping at Nordstrom and even if you continue in the workforce.)

MOM DARE: Your first step toward balance is to lead with gratitude every day. I am grateful for my home, for my parents, for my trees and gardens. I am awed by my husband (especially since he figured out how to balance his own roles), my friends and my beautiful, healthy children. I have abundant food, the ability to worship as I please, a safe city in which to live. We have two cars, gas money and plenty of clothes. We have clean, running water and electricity. We have doctors, hospitals, and police. Do I need to continue? This is the beginning of finding your center.

So, like Michael Keaton ceremoniously burned his flannel shirt in “Mr. Mom” (yes, I’m that old), you need to give your old life a proper goodbye and toast your maiden voyage on the MOM ship. Your journey will not be easy, but it will certainly be full of adventure and an education beyond anything you could receive from the Ivy Leagues. And, someday, when your life is a little easier, you will help pull another new mom through to fairer seas.

Grace and peace.

To subscribe to my Weekly Bit of Baby Love and to take on other Mom Dares, enter your e-mail on the right under subscriptions, or you can visit at www.babylovecarebook.com

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