How to Smooth Your Way Into Mommyhood

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There’s a baby coming, bringing with him or her out countless hours of joy … as well as spills, puke and sleepless nights when you’ll be wondering why they won’t stop crying. It’s an emotional roller-coaster, to say the least, but the positives will outweigh the negatives if you make the right preparations. That’s especially important for single mothers-to-be who have no partner to rely on. No matter what your relationship status, keep your head up and follow this advice.

Write a Birth Plan

It’s a document that lets doctors, nurses and midwives know how you would like to give birth, including who is present during labor, what forms of pain relief you allow yourself to use, and what to do with the placenta. The experts at Parents have drawn up a checklist to make it easy for you to create the perfect natal environment, but bear in mind that your preferences may be ignored in the case of an emergency.

Get the Right Gear

A stroller, clothes, diapers: The costs certainly add up. Luckily, an experienced mother with Eco Baby Steps has come up with a list of things that you will definitely need, followed by others that would come in handy. Prioritize and use your baby shower wish list wisely. Plus, the other mothers in your life may have some things left over from raising their children. You may not have to pay much at all if anything.

Prepare Their Room

You want to make sure that you have easy access to everything you need to care for a baby in their room. A designer writing in lifestyle magazine Today suggests keeping diapers, wipes and other changing items to the side of your dominant hand. As for the overall theme, it can be exhausting to choose one, because there are so many options. Start with the furniture, followed by a color palette and decorations to match.

Simplify Your Daily Routine

Now, back to you. Time is of the essence once taking care of the baby becomes your first priority. But your household isn’t going to take care of itself, so you need to streamline your tasks to get them done quickly. The first step is to automate all of your bill-paying so you don’t waste precious time on finances, then find ways to speed up your morning routine and save time on cooking by preparing food in batches.

See a Therapist Now

Even if you’re not dealing with any negative emotions now, they’ll help you determine your susceptibility to postpartum depression based on a number of factors, such as the history of mental illness in your family or incidences of abuse during your own childhood. It’s good to understand your treatment options now just in case you need to see someone later.

Make Self-Care a Priority

Start with the basic elements of overall good health. That means getting some exercise, eating healthy and staying hydrated. Moreover, you should find ways to relieve stress, and there are plenty of ideas to consider, such as taking a walk, practicing yoga, deep breathing or watching the sunrise or sunset. Don’t be afraid to pamper yourself at the spa. You’ve earned it!

Reach Out to Friends and Family

As they say, it takes a village to raise a child. Create your support network now by talking to friends and family about the help you’ll most likely need. That could be someone taking care of the baby, helping with the cooking and cleaning, or taking you to the doctor’s office. There’s always paid help if you can fit it into your budget.

Talk to Other Moms

You’ll find plenty of wisdom and comfort from women who have already been where you’re going, whether it’s advice on putting your baby to sleep or just a shoulder to cry on when the going gets tough. Nowadays, you’ll even find plenty of helpful communities online if there’s no one who can be there for you physically.

It may seem like more than you can handle, but there’s plenty to look forward to, like the baby’s first words, first steps and first day at school. One day, you’ll look back and wish you could do it all again.

Amanda Henderson

Check out more by Amanda at http://safechildren.info/

My Body, My Temple

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Earlier today, I was chatting with several of my women college students about how often they’ve said “yes” (or just not vocalized “no”) to actions and situations that made them uncomfortable, because they feared upsetting someone else.

Just a few hours later, my daughter says to me, “The students who show up to perform at the ballroom dancing showcase for our school get 20 extra minutes of recess.” (We can unpack at a later time the audacious level of privilege that undergirds the offering of in-school rewards for activities outside of school - ones that require able-bodiedness, transportation, money, potential time away from work, etc.)

Me: “Well, what do you want to do?”

Daughter: “I said I was not going and my teacher asked me why not. I told her that I did not want to have to touch the boys. She said, ‘They’re JUST boys.’”

Me: (after several minutes of pausing to construct a sentence that was not jagged with anger) “They’re JUST boys? I don’t care if it is JUST an old lady, JUST a friend, JUST a teacher, or even JUST your own mother; that is your body and you don’t have to let any other person touch you under any circumstances.”

As I walked away (huffing, but proud of my girl), I thought back to all the people who have come up to my girls, stroked their curls, patted their faces, or asked for a hug, and then been offended when my girls scooted away. I thought back to the heart-wrenching stories of the young women in my class who didn’t dare to move even when they felt unsafe, and I turned around before fully exiting the living room.

Me: “You know what? I am going to reward YOU. What do you want to do tomorrow night? Whatever it is, we are doing it! Because I am so, so proud of you. Despite the social consequences and tangible punishment, you knew that your body was your own and that nobody had a right to tell you otherwise. You set your boundaries and that needs to be celebrated and encouraged.”

You see, this is a big deal. I came to find out that she was also told that her refusal to hold hands during practices would result in punishment for everyone. Wait…it gets worse! The punishment for not holding hands was having to be held in a much closer embrace. In all seriousness, my daughter was told to accept one level of uncomfortable touching to avoid an even more uncomfortable situation for her and all of her peers. It blows my mind that, in this time of saying #metoo, an educator would engage in this sort of coercion. It is not about dancing, because, Lord knows, dancing is awesome. It is not about the boys in her school. It is not about sitting something out. It is about not gaslighting our young girls when they say they are uncomfortable. It is about not issuing a societal invitation into personally-dictated space.

Boundary-setting starts early. I am terrified by the way most people interact with my children – expectant of hugs, entitled to a hair touch, ready to make kids feel “unkind” for not wanting to physically engage. Are we that out of touch with the message that sends to kids? Can we, as adults, not recognize that behavior is learned? If kids are not taught that their bodies belong to them in EVERY situation, how do we propose they make the distinction when it is most needed?

Here is my bright line: always. It is always, under every circumstance, ok for my children to decide that they don’t want to be touched by anyone.

I do not want to be talking to my girls 10 years from now and hearing the same stories of discomfort, intrusion, and fear that I heard from my students. Can we please start making it ok for kids to decline touch? It may not seem like a big deal when it is ballroom dancing, but let’s collectively decide that we don’t want our children to ever feel like they don’t have a say over who touches them, where, and why. That is so dangerous.

I have fairly intelligent children, but even I am not confident that my children would be able to successfully decipher the mixed messages of “boys and old ladies can touch you, even if you don’t like it” and “there are only very specific, scary situations in which you should feel empowered to say no.” Because, trust me, those situations we dread as parents, usually don’t begin scary. Perpetrators of dangerous touching are, most often, someone your child knows and may even trust. The touching begins “friendly” and “light.” We need to raise kids who can listen to their initial discomfort and respond without having to fight against all the voices in their heads (teachers, friends, parents, strangers) telling them that uncomfortable or unwanted touching is no big deal.

So, tomorrow, my child is going to be honored and celebrated. I want her to not only be empowered, but excited about her control over her own body. We will praise boundaries and work at every turn to counteract the messages that try to drown out her agency in this world. I will remind her that her God is protective of her, even when the world is not. As Romans 12:2 urges us: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

A. Smith 

4 Ways to Prepare Your Anxious Child for a Successful School Year

 Photos by  Pexels

Photos by Pexels

Being the parent of a child or teen with anxiety comes with an extra layer of responsibility — and an extra large heart. It’s not easy to watch your child suffer from anxiety, from feeling calm and at-ease to uncomfortable and out of control. Supporting your child with anxiety means being there for them during high-stress times, which can often be unpredictable. Most kids dealing with anxiety will feel anxious before, during, and after social situations where they feel they might be judged. None of these days are more intense than the first day of school.

This guide gives you a few tips to help set them up for a successful year.

Help Them Start the Day Right

 Anxiety is a terrible feeling that can snowball throughout the day, getting more and more intense as the day moves on. If you help your child start the day calm and confident, he or she will be better able to manage their anxious moments — preventing an emotional avalanche. Be sure your kid eats a full breakfast that’s high in protein and low in sugar and caffeine. Try to set aside enough time to go for a walk or jog; exercise is one is the strongest natural coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety. Finally, take 10 or 15 minutes for silent meditation. You might be able to combine this with walking or jogging, but either way, a dedicated time to pause and breathe can set the right tone for a healthy, happy day.

Show Them How to Manage a Workload

 Time management is key to a good school year. This is especially true for students active in extracurricular activities such as sports, theater, newspaper, or yearbook who need to balance those commitments with their academic responsibilities. It’s enough for any average student to feel overwhelmed at times, but it is especially intense for a child or teen with anxiety. They may have moments where they feel like they are constantly behind or don’t belong.

Help them stay on top of their workload by creating a calendar that shows them their whole day or even week at a glance. Have them set an alarm when doing homework that encourages them to take breaks to rest their minds. Encourage them to make a to-do list every morning when they wake up and write a journal entry celebrating their accomplishments each night before bed.

Make Sure They Have the Right Supplies

 From paper and pencils to calculators and computers, kids need to have the right tools in order to maintain a strong performance in the classroom. Having the right supplies means one less thing your child or teen will have to worry about, which frees up their minds for learning. Purchasing supplies can add up, but it doesn't have to break the bank. In addition to back-to-school sales and discounts for buying in bulk, you can also search for online coupons, cashback opportunities, and promo codes; even large retailers like Target, Amazon, and Walmart provide unbelievable online offers and digital discounts.

Set Up a Special Space

A place to concentrate on assignments, relax at the end of the day, or calm down during a bout of anxiety — your child deserves a space that accommodates all these needs. Give him or her a special space outside of the bedroom that encourages all three. Make sure to use natural lighting, soft colors, and neutral tones to create a sense of peace and ease. Set up a reading or meditation nook, headphones to listen to soothing music, and perhaps an inspirational quote or two — so long as it helps your child let go of his or her worry. You can decorate a spare room or a spare corner; just be sure to get your child’s input on how the space should be arranged.

While it’s normal to feel anxious or sad occasionally during childhood, persistent and frequent anxiety needs to be addressed. One in eight kids suffers from an anxiety disorder, and sadly, roughly 80 percent of those diagnosed don’t get treatment. If you suspect your child’s anxiety is beyond typical adolescent stress, talk to him or her with an open heart and mind.

Joyce Wilson