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How to Parent When Your Heart is Broken

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Parenthood is never easy, even when life seems perfect.  And those times when life is not so perfect?  Harder.  And those times when loss, tragedy or trauma happen?  The hardest.

 

Lately, it’s hard to listen to the news log onto social media.  It seems like there’s a new natural disaster or political mess every single day.  It’s starting to feel normal, even though we know nothing about any of this is or should be normal.  

 

With details about the Las Vegas Shooting coming out nearly …

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The Emotional Side of Potty Training

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Ugh, potty training.  Am I right?  It can be so challenging, so stressful.  For you AND for your little one.

 

I want to help you get through potty training a little more pleasantly (Is pleasant potty training a thing?  OK, maybe not.  But let’s at least make it a little less torturous, shall we?)

 

There are a lot of good articles all over the internet on HOW to potty train your child, so I’m not going to spend time saying the same things many experts have already done.  My aim here in…

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The Taboo of Having a Favorite Child

DO WE REALLY LOVE EACH OF OUR KIDS THE SAME?

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When I was pregnant with my daughter (our second child), I distinctly remember being really worried that I would not be as in love with her as I was with my son (our first).  

 

In fact, my husband and I use to joke that we shouldn't have a second kid because he was so awesome and perfect--there was just no way our second could live up to that.  “Our next kid would probably be a total nightmare,” we’d tease.  

 

OK, time-out!  I realize how …

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Is There a Right Way to Celebrate Baby's First Birthday?

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This is not a post about how to plan a Pinterest-worthy, uniquely-themed first birthday party that will wow your guests and make impressive Instagram photos.  

I’m not going to talk about smash cakes, decorations, or party tutus.  You can find plenty of that with just a quick Google search.

What I really want to talk about is WHY baby’s first birthday is such a momentous day worth celebrating, and how to celebrate it in ways that honor that WHY.

To clarify:  No, of course there’s not a r…

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Shifts & Starts: 3 Major Times Our Little Ones Change Up Our Routines

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I don’t know about you, but lately, my Facebook newsfeed is filled with adorable first-day-of-school photos.  

 

I love it.  You can see the anticipation in their little faces and I completely understand what those moms and dads posting them must be feeling.

 

This time of year always makes me a bit reflective about transitions.  And I can’t help but think about how parenthood is constantly insisting we grow right along with our kids.

 

Three major times of transition immediately come…

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Shaping Perceptions of Racial Diversity in Babies, Toddlers & Young Children

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Quick--If you had to guess, when do you think our children first begin to notice racial differences?

 

You might guess that it begins in grade school, when kids are under more pressure to fit in or have had more time to absorb their parents’ perceptions and commentary on different races. But, you’d be wrong.  These concepts begin taking shape much, much earlier than that.

 

The truth is, these perceptions begin to form in infancy.  Our babies and children are constantly taking mental no…

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Separation Anxiety & Stranger Danger: How to Get through it with Confidence & Empathy

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Has your baby or toddler hit the “separation anxiety” phase in their development yet?

 

Our littles can start feeling separation anxiety as early as 6 months and usually phases out by age 2, but the peak age range is 8-18 months.  It usually looks like clinginess, tantrums or resistance to other caregivers. It often happens when mom or dad leaves the room for a moment, or during bedtime routines, or when a child is dropped off at a caregiver’s place.  What some people refer to as “strange…

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How to Cope When Your Partner Has Postpartum Depression

 

What is it like as a dad or co-parent when your partner has Postpartum Depression or Anxiety?

 

Well, "difficult" would be an understatement.  Imagine you and your partner have the baby you’ve always wanted, but mom is just not herself anymore and you don’t know how to make things better.  It can feel helpless or hopeless.  It can feel frustrating.  You might feel angry or impulsive.  Or worried or sad.  Or numb.  Or way too preoccupied with tending to her needs and feelings that you have…

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3 Simple Steps to Quit Keeping Score in Your Parenting Relationship

 

Remember back when you had roommates and it was so easy to divvy up the chores list and make sure everyone paid their share of the bills?  And if someone wasn’t pulling their weight, it was really clear, right?  Everyone knew who the lame roommate was and a simple house meeting could nip it in the bud or that roommate would be finding a new place.

 

Or, remember back when you and your partner were just dating and you could easily split the bar tab or take turns taking each other out?  Bot…

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New Dads: What is Your Role After Baby Arrives?

 

First-time dads, do you (or did you) ever feel like you’re unsure of what you’re supposed to even do in those first few weeks after bringing baby home?  

Do you (or did you) feel like you don’t even exist or that there’s not much reason for you to be around because the baby needs mom and mom is doing it all?

 

Every new parent will tell you that those first few weeks after baby comes home are rough.  

 

We as a culture often focus on mom’s struggle during this transition.  Even I spend…

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Securing Childcare: Questions to Ask to Get the Best Fit for Your Family

 

Finding childcare for your little ones can be an incredibly overwhelming thing for new parents--especially if you are bracing yourself to go back to work for the first time.  

 

There’s so much to think about just logistically:  the research involved, phone calls to make, interviews to conduct, budgeting to figure out, and so on.  And when you factor in all the emotions that come with it--The guilt! Oh, the guilt!--it can almost feel like too much to handle on top of everything else you a…

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Summer Travel Plans? Keep Your Toddlers & Kids Occupied & Happy While Traveling with These Clever Ideas

Ah, summer travel…  Second maybe only to the Christmas/Chanukah season, this is probably the most popular time for travel.  Vacations are always worth it--it’s great family bonding and relaxation time for parents, and little ones always have a blast when experiencing new things.  But, let’s be honest:  the traveling to and from our incredible family vacations is not always so restful.  Or even pleasant.  Whether flying or driving, the challenges often the same--keeping our little ones content …

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Creating Your Kid-Friendly Lifestyle: How to Work In All the Important Stuff from Boring Chores to Fave Hobbies

So often in my practice, I see women who are struggling with a loss of identity now that they're a mom.  I also see many parents--both moms and dads--who feel like it just isn't feasible for them to continue certain activities.  That it would be impossible for them to enjoy it, to focus, or do it the way they want to with a little one tagging along.  It can feel very literally like a monkey on your back while you're trying to do your thing.  Or, like you can't just lose yourself in the activit…

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Catherine O'Brien featured in PsychCentral's "Mothering Lessons" Article

Motherhood has a way of catalyzing change and growth.  It's like the one great equalizer:  Motherhood doesn't care if you're a so-called "expert" or not.  We ALL struggle.  And we all acquire our own set of mothering wisdom to share. 

This week, I had the pleasure of being featured on PsychCentral's article, "Women Reveal the Biggest Lessons Mothering Has Taught Them."  I'd love it if you'd check it out.  Then, share your own wise mothering lessons in the comments below!


Do you struggle …

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Slow Down For Summer: Being Present with your Family without the Guilt

Fourth of July weekend will soon be upon us.  

This is a popular time for many of us to make lasting memories from barbecues to fireworks.  For my family, this is typically vacation time and we all look forward to it every year.  

 

It is with this in mind that I want to talk about the importance of slowing down and just being present with our families.  So easily, our lives can become a rapid pace of go-go-go.  There’s school and work and extracurriculars and birthday parties.  (Don’t even…

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Dads Who Are Rocking at Parenting

First, a disclaimer:  Some moms or birth parents choose to be single parents and others don’t get much choice in the matter.  This post is absolutely not intended to discredit, cast judgment, or make any single mother or birth parent feel bad about their circumstances or decisions.  I strongly believe that we as parents are the best qualified people to make the right choices for us and our families and sometimes that means doing it without a partner.  Single parents, whether by choice or chanc…

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Ways Dad Can Help Out in the First Weeks of Parenthood and Why Mom Should Let Him

Fathers Day is just days away, so in honor of all the World's Best Dads everywhere, I thought I'd share my best tips for new dads (and parenting partners) so that you can come into your own as a daddy.  I think it's often assumed that dads will just step up after the baby arrives (and more often than not, YOU DO!), but we all say it so casually--as if it isn't just as disorienting, confusing, challenging or exhausting for dad as it is for moms. 

That really isn't fair, is it? 

Babies don't c…

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Catherine O'Brien, LMFT featured on "The Family Couch" Podcast

Parents and Parents-to-be, this is so good:  Catherine O'Brien, LMFT was featured on the podcast "The Family Couch", hosted by Mercedes Samudio, LCSW.  In it, they discuss what surprised Catherine the most when she first became a mom, how to make sure both parents are connecting with baby (and with each other) and feel supported and empowered, and they even take on the "mommy wars" hot-button issue to help moms move past the judgment and guilt.  Catherine gives the top three questions she asks…

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Guest Blog: Simplify Your Life So You Can Focus on Family

 

Written by WENDY ROHIN, PT, DPT

 

Parenting in the modern world is unnecessarily cluttered with distractions and multitasking. Unfortunately–despite all the current advances and technology of our time–no one has yet to invent the SuperMom pill. (Don’t worry, I’m working on it.) So, in the meantime, you have to prioritize with intention, or the important things (people) will become neglected and…well…less important. Please, read on if you interested in some ideas on how to simplify your li…

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Momma Interviews "Expert Edition" featuring Alicia Taverner

May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, so I've relaunched my "Momma Interviews" series--This time with an extra special set of moms.  These mommas also work to support other moms and their families during the transition into new parenthood and beyond.  I'm calling it the "Expert Edition", but I think you'll find that while these women definitely are experts in their work, parenthood has a way of making a beginner out of everybody.  Even experts get surprised by the unexpected and lea…

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Momma Interviews "Expert Edition" featuring Rebekah Fedrowitz

May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, so I've relaunched my "Momma Interviews" series--This time with an extra special set of moms.  These mommas also work to support other moms and their families during the transition into new parenthood and beyond.  I'm calling it the "Expert Edition", but I think you'll find that while these women definitely are experts in their work, parenthood has a way of making a beginner out of everybody.  Even experts get surprised by the unexpected and lea…

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Guest Blog: Caring for Your Parents and Your Babies: What I Learned During My Son’s First Year

 

Written by Kate Turza

 

When my son was 10 months old, I found out I was pregnant with our second child.  So, like most young families, we made the decision to move out of our “starter house” and into our “forever house”.  Finally, when my second was 5 months old we moved into our “forever” home.  Life was good.  Two babies, beautiful house, happy mom & dad.  

A couple weeks after moving into our house, my father (who had been living with Multiple Sclerosis for almost 30 years) went in for…

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Momma Interviews "Expert Edition" featuring Cassie Owens, LPC

May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, so I've relaunched my "Momma Interviews" series--This time with an extra special set of moms.  These mommas also work to support other moms and their families during the transition into new parenthood and beyond.  I'm calling it the "Expert Edition", but I think you'll find that while these women definitely are experts in their work, parenthood has a way of making a beginner out of everybody.  Even experts get surprised by the unexpected and lea…

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Momma Interviews "Expert Edition" featuring Jo Muirhead

May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, so I've relaunched my "Momma Interviews" series--This time with an extra special set of moms.  These mommas also work to support other moms and their families during the transition into new parenthood and beyond.  I'm calling it the "Expert Edition", but I think you'll find that while these women definitely are experts in their work, parenthood has a way of making a beginner out of everybody.  Even experts get surprised by the unexpected and lea…

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Guest Blog: 5 Considerations to Safeguard Against Postpartum Depression

 

Written by Brittni Fudge, MA, LPC, NCC

 

Up to 20% of pregnant and new moms will experience some form of anxiety or mood disorder.  This is a staggering number—especially considering these statistics are gathered based only on what women report.  Due to the stigma around mental health, many women don’t report their depression or anxiety to healthcare professionals, so it’s likely that that number is higher.  

 

Pregnant moms often ask me if there’s anything they can do to prevent po…

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Momma Interviews "Expert Edition" featuring Lindsay Lipton Gerszt

May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, so I've relaunched my "Momma Interviews" series--This time with an extra special set of moms.  These mommas also work to support other moms and their families during the transition into new parenthood and beyond.  I'm calling it the "Expert Edition", but I think you'll find that while these women definitely are experts in their work, parenthood has a way of making a beginner out of everybody.  Even experts get surprised by the unexpected and lea…

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Momma Interviews "Expert Edition" featuring Shana Averbach, LMFT

May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, so I've relaunched my "Momma Interviews" series--This time with an extra special set of moms.  These mommas also work to support other moms and their families during the transition into new parenthood and beyond.  I'm calling it the "Expert Edition", but I think you'll find that while these women definitely are experts in their work, parenthood has a way of making a beginner out of everybody.  Even experts get surprised by the unexpected and lea…

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Guest Blog: The Stigma of Maternal Mental Health Keeps Women in The Dark Ages

 

Written by Mercedes Samudio, LCSW

 

The recent coverage of celebrity mothers, like Chrissy Teigen, discussing how they came to discover that the unsettling feelings they experienced after giving birth was called postpartum depression sheds light on an interesting dialogue we need to have with women: becoming a mother is not always going to be a beautifully exciting time in a mother’s life; and that’s okay. The idea that a mother should love her new baby - or even the more seemingly inclus…

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Momma Interviews "Expert Edition" featuring Amanda Zaidman

May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, so I've relaunched my "Momma Interviews" series--This time with an extra special set of moms.  These mommas also work to support other moms and their families during the transition into new parenthood and beyond.  I'm calling it the "Expert Edition", but I think you'll find that while these women definitely are experts in their work, parenthood has a way of making a beginner out of everybody.  Even experts get surprised by the unexpected and lea…

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Momma Interviews "Expert Edition" featuring Dr. Katayune Kaeni

May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, so I've relaunched my "Momma Interviews" series--This time with an extra special set of moms.  These mommas also work to support other moms and their families during the transition into new parenthood and beyond.  I'm calling it the "Expert Edition", but I think you'll find that while these women definitely are experts in their work, parenthood has a way of making a beginner out of everybody.  Even experts get surprised by the unexpected and lea…

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Momma Interviews "Expert Edition": Featuring Arianna Taboada

May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, so I've decided to relaunch my "Momma Interviews" series--This time with an extra special set of moms.  These mommas also work to support other moms and their families during the transition into new parenthood and beyond.  I'm calling it the "Expert Edition", but I think you'll find that while these women definitely are experts in their work, parenthood has a way of making a beginner out of everybody.  Even experts get surprised by the unexpecte…

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7 Calming Tips for Tantrums & Meltdowns

 

There’s possibly nothing worse than an inconsolable little one in the middle of a meltdown.  It can be heartbreaking and infuriating at the same time.  And if you’re in a public place, it can be downright mortifying at times.

 

For what it’s worth, momma, EVERY mom has these moments.  

 

Babies and toddlers don’t care if you’re a celebrity or are on the phone or have already had a rough day.  So, don’t feel too bad if it happens in public and don't let it make you feel like a bad parent…

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Letting New Parents Off the Hook: Mommas of 2+ Kids Give You Their Best Hacks & Cut You Some Slack!

Being a new mom is an adjustment.  

 

OK, that might be an understatement.  Sometimes, being a new mom is hard, and scary, and nerve-wracking, exhausting, confusing.  Being a new mom can make you question whether you’re even cut out for this.  Whether you’re any good at it.  Why everything in the book isn’t working.  Or, how you surely must be screwing your kid up from the get-go if you don’t do x-y-z right.

 

Let me tell you:  Every single mom has felt this way at some point.  You’re no…

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How to Deal When Your Baby Hates the Car

 

Not all of us win the lottery when it comes to kids and car rides.  Some parents love driving their babies or kids around because they’re guaranteed to knock out during the ride.  Other parents, not so much.  

 

If your baby screams as if they’re being tortured during any drive or if your toddler gets carsick, I know how traumatic it can feel for you, momma.  I have two kids and they are like night and day when it comes to personalities.  Their reactions to car rides….also like night and …

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Travel Tips for Parents with Little Ones

Since it’s generally Spring Break time for many of us this time of year, I thought I’d focus on some thoughts on traveling with little ones and some hacks to make it easier.  Plus, summer is coming, so it can’t hurt to plan ahead for your upcoming summer trips.

 

First of all, I know that traveling with a little one seems daunting, but really, it’s not so bad.  You’ll figure out your own system and your own travel hacks (which I’d love to hear!).

 

And secondly, just do it.  Do it now, w…

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19+ Smartphone Apps that Make Parenting Easier

Like it or not, we live in a technological age.  And, while there are definitely some hazards that come with that, there’s no denying the advantages.  

 

Since many of us use smartphones anyway these days, I thought it might be helpful to compile a list of apps that might make your life as a parent a bit easier. Now, by no means does anyone necessarily need ALL of the apps listed here.  Just pick and choose the ones that suit your lifestyle and discard the rest.  And, hopefully, this at le…

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Dear Momma, Your Priorities are Skewed!

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Dear Momma,

Your priorities are skewed!


Now, honestly, I mean that in the nicest way. Because if you’ve met me before you know that saying something direct and possibly hurtful is not my style.  But I feel like if I don’t tell you, then I can’t continue to sit back and watch you be miserable and continue to let you commiserate.  


Because momma, you are so focused on what isn’t right that you aren’t noticing the positive.


Like the fact that your baby slept through the night.  And it's…

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New Mama Worries, Part 2: How to Know if it's Postpartum Anxiety

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”   - Amit Ray


 

Anxiety sucks.  Anxiety while being a mom really sucks.

 

One of the things I hear from moms is that they often blame themselves if they feel anxious.  As if somehow they are failing as a mom, a partner, a person if they experience anxiety and motherhood at the same time.  Maybe they just weren't cut out for this job.

 

But NO!  That's so not true.  The truth is that you do love your swee…

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New Mama Worries, Part 1: What's Normal & How to Get Past Your Anxieties

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”   

- Elizabeth Stone

 

One of the most common concerns I hear from moms both in my practice and in my personal life is the constant worry they feel since bringing their baby home.  For many, it starts during pregnancy.  

 

And, on the one hand, worry makes a lot of sense.  We have been entrusted with the fullest of responsibilities--creating and raising a lif…

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Where to Meet Your Mom Tribe (And, how to actually meet them!)

One of the biggest challenges I hear from moms is how difficult it is to find mom friends.  Some even liken it to going out to a bar and hitting on someone, hoping that they like you and want to start hanging out.   That doesn't always have the best memories associated with it, does it?  

 

The fear of rejection is real.  And the effort it takes to meet new people can feel daunting or even draining for some of us.

 

And with all the new demands on our lives as moms after these new little…

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4 Ways to Feel Intimacy When You're All Touched Out

Whether you are pregnant, have a new baby or even an older child, we moms all can feel touched out at certain times in our parenting adventure.  I especially hear about this from breastfeeding moms.


If you’ve already been there, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.  The baby wants to do nothing but nurse.  Or be rocked in your old rocking chair.  Or will only sleep if she’s lying on your chest.  The toddler wants to be picked up all the time.  Your child is having a clingy phase or…

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Sex After Baby: What's Normal?

“When will we have a sex life again after the baby is born?  And will it be any good?”

 

I hear this a lot from expecting parents, both with the couples I work with and in Facebook groups online.  I’d venture to guess there are plenty more that are wondering the same things, but haven’t been brave enough to ask.  Every new or expecting parent wants to know what’s normal.

 

The answer is there is no normal per se.   

 

(Of course, if you like numbers, you can get statistics here and some …

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Quick + Essential: Why Oils Are A Busy Mom's Best Friend (Plus, a Bonus Download!)

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about stress and the brain.  In it, I talk about the limbic system (our “reptilian brain” that controls our emotions) and the five main ways to impact its response to stress.  

 

Of those five ways--aromatics, breath, nature, nervous system and energy work--the fastest way to invoke calm in the limbic part of our brain is by literally following our noses.  This is effective because the olfactory nerve--the part of our anatomy that correlates to our sense of …

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Need a Time-Out? Try a Meditation App! (I've reviewed them for you!)


When you think of meditation, what do you imagine?  

If I had to guess, I bet you’re picturing something like this:


Sure, looks ideal, right? 

But in a mom’s reality, it probably looks more like this:



Or, it might look even more like this.

That’s totally OK!  We need to let go of that perfect image of zen and realize that we can find a little moment of peace anywhere as long as we know how to do it.


There are so many different ways that you can find some calm in your daily…

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7 Things All Moms Should Know About The Brain to Get Control Over Their Stress

There is nothing quite like motherhood to make you feel like you’ve lost control or that you’ve met your limit, right?  Often times, motherhood can feel joyful, meaningful, boring, stressful, exhausting….all in one day.  

 

I think ideally we’d all like to feel more joy and meaning than stress and exhaustion though.  And, thankfully, there are actual things you can do to make sure you feel more ease and can enjoy the positives more. 

 

In order to understand how to use calming tools for …

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10 Tips to Tame Your Busy-ness

 

Let’s face it, if you’re a mom, YOU ARE BUSY.  It’s just a fact of modern life.  

And, I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you:  The bad news is you’ll always be busy (at least until you’re empty-nesters, I’m afraid!).  But, the good news is there are definitely ways you can simplify and streamline your beautifully chaotic, messy, imperfect life.

 

And because you’re so busy, I’m going to get right down to it.  

 

Here are my top 10 tips for taming your busy-ness:

 

 

1.  …

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Top 3 Books for Expecting Parents


Isn’t it crazy just how much we need to do, think about, and plan for when we are expecting a baby?  It is an amazing time, but it is also a life-altering, world-changing event.


If you are an expectant parent you are probably already inundated with books, research on the best products, and get loads of unsolicited advice.  (And if you're not yet, just wait....)


There are a million books (ok, maybe not a million, but an overwhelming amount) out there for expecting and new parents.  Preg…

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New Year's Reflections: What we're actually accomplishing when we're not meeting our expectations.

New-Year-Self-Reflection

I recently read another blog by a friend, colleague, and brilliant business coach, Jo Muirhead.  In it, she talks about reflecting on the past year.  As I read it, my most immediate thought was that I had accomplished nothing over the year.  I had big goals that went unmet.  

 

And then one of the questions jumped out at me and honestly, brought tears to my eyes:  “What were you doing?”

 

Last January, I had big goals.  I planned to launch an online course, start some new workshops, and …

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Get Mom What She Really Wants: 12 Gift Ideas to Make Her Life Easier

In case you are in the dark about this, let me let you in on a little secret:  moms are busy people.  There are probably all kinds of great gift ideas that might be more romantic or luxurious than the ones I'm about to recommend, but if you really care about making a mom feel truly happier, lighter and supported, I think these are some ideas worth considering. 

 

And before we go any further, let me preface by saying that unless otherwise mentioned, I am in no way affiliated with any company…

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The Challenges of Practicing Self-Care as a Parent: A Q&A with Catherine O'Brien LMFT on PsychCentral

Ah, self-care.  This is something that takes constant work to master. (Does anyone ever really "master" it?)  Sometimes I'm great at it.  Other times, not so much.  And when I fall out of the habit, I have to bring my attention back to it (sometimes after my husband calls me out on it!) and work it back into my routine. 

 

If you haven't already noticed that our roles and methods as parents are constantly changing, you will soon enough.  Babies and kids are great at keeping us on our toes!…

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