Photo by Rachel Hadiashar
"Taking time (for you) is based in self-love, which only enhances self-worth and
self-respect. Being a mother is the most rewarding and demanding aspect of your life. Everyone needs time to fill their own cup.
You are worth it!"
~ Erin Berk
Erin Berk of Creative Therapy for the Heart has 15 years of experience as an Art Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor. She loves working with children, teens and families in Portland. She has a private practice at The Sweet Light Center in Portland.
Erin loves cooking, being creative and just" being" with her 11 year old and her family.
Erin gets real about the barriers moms may face to self-care and shares "art as therapy"
tools to help you let go and turn inward, an amazing way to take time for you.
When I think about self worth and taking care of oneself as a mother, I hear all the voices of so many women that I have talked to over the years. I think of how we can lose our center as a mama, so naturally I think of barriers to finding our way back to center.
Here are some barriers that many women mention can get in the way :
* Time. Often when I speak to moms, they feel as if they can't step away from their household duties. Or maybe they feel guilty from being away at work, and then they need to make dinner, and of course want to spend time with the kids before bedtime.
* Asking for help. Often, it comes down to asking for help and "making a date" with yourself once week, whether that is a run, gym time, movie with a friend, or a bike ride. Single mamas may have to ask for help from trusted friends or family. Or if you can hire a babysitter once a week for a couple of hours or so a childcare swap for a couple for a couple of hours with another mom. The NIKE slogan hits the nail on the head - "Just do it!"
* Feeling selfish. New moms - and moms in general - can feel so overwhelmed with wanting to be with their children that the idea of time away seems selfish. It is not selfish to care for yourself! Repeat!!
* Too tired. Another barrier, is often feeling unmotivated or too tired to care for oneself. Sometimes, in raising our children, we forget to check in with how we are feeling or doing.
Until one day, you wake up in the morning and just feel depleted and overwhelmed.
Again, think about what replenishes your soul? A hot soak at a local soaking Portland pool or a nice long shower or bath, or maybe a chat with a friend?
What replenishes your soul?
~ Erin Berk
If you neglect your own care- and forget to nurture your heart and soul- what will you have left to give to your family? If you take time away (when you are ready), you will feel replenished and renewed and better able to cope with the many demands of being a parent. No matter how old your child is, taking a break is the best self-care you can give yourself and your kids.
Another wonderful way to take time for you is to do some art as therapy. While art therapy is done with a trained therapist to help make meaning out of the therapeutic process and life, art as therapy is something anyone can do.
Here's some art as therapy ideas from Erin:
"Mothering myself to me means...."
"My wish...." and then create a journal entry with pictures, words, or both.
Anything creative that allows
one to tune inward
and lose the sense of time
is a great place to begin.
In our last positive parenting tool,
we talked about the crazy phenomenon
called our children can't hear us.
And how to connect with children
to engage their cooperation.
This week, we're talking about
speaking their language.
There's grown-up talk.
Then there's kid-talk.
Grown-up talk is full of pretty,
but often unnecessary words.
Kid-talk says it like it is.
Verbiage, mini-lectures, subtleties, & niceties
are a waste of words on children,
and can hinder comprehension.
Because it't hard for developing minds
to track and extrapolate
what we want them to do
when's it embedded in a ton of words and topics.
(And those of us with sarcastic tendencies,
let's do our best to leave meanness disguised as humor
out of our parenting.)
What we take for granted as the way
adult brains work and function,
is not a given in children.
Their brains are different in
an amazing state of learning and growth,
which means they don't quite have
the auditory comprehension skills we do.
That doesn't mean our children aren't intelligent.
Or that vocabulary development isn't important.
In fact, I've known a many a 3 year old
who far surpass the adults
in the room with their gift, power, or intelligence.
Rather, it all goes back to children's developing minds.
How do we best support this blossoming
of children's communication
so they can understand us,
and therefore best cooperate with us?
1) Say it clear and simply,
with a calm + confident tone of voice.
2) Use as few words as possible to say what you mean + what you want them to do,
and stick to one topic.
3) Believe your children will do
what you want them to do.
Brain science affirms that your children
are wired to cooperate with you for their survival.
Believe in cooperation, and parenting as the teaching of life skills.
4) Offer help as needed,
breaking the task down into smaller steps
so your children (and you!) can feel successful.
What does this sound like?
Let's say it's time to clean up and go to the store.
In the past/the old way,
we would've said something like this:
"Sweetie, Mommy loves you. It's time to go to the store. Are you excited? You love shopping. Ok.... Um, yes...could you please put on your jacket? Let's see I need to get my bag and my list....Put your toys away, come on go get your jacket. Aren't you ready? Let's go..., let's go....Do you hear me?? Time to go!!"
I'm exaggerating a bit.
But, what exactly is the child supposed to do here?
Can you see how hard it would be as a young mind to pull out the action steps
and make sense of your request?
Even though we started off very nicely,
our temperature rises as our children don't listen to us because they can't understand us.
We can learn effective kid-talk.
Just takes practice.
That paragraph above can become...
"Let's put the toys away,
(getting down on the floor to help)
get your jacket on,
(walking to the door with your child)
and do you want to open the door or do it together?"
50 to 90% of the time,
your children will cooperate.
I have a few friends who got this kid-talk down.
I listen to them with open ears,
remembering how they said what they said
so I can say it like that later.
We're all here to learn from one another.
Also, start listening to the dads in your life.
Fathers are know for directness in their communication.
This clarity and "saying it like it is" helps kids listen better.
Because children's brains are in the very midst of developing linguistically + cognitively.
Directness + Clarity = Comprehension = Cooperation.
Simple, clear, as few words as possible
said calmly and confidently,
believing your child is wired to cooperate with you,
is your golden ticket to cooperation.
Success stories or challenges to share?
Head over to my Facebook page
so we can learn together.
You got this,
when i first meet people
they sometimes say to me
you work with parents
parenting must be easy for you
at one time it was
when my son was little
before all that s-t-r-e-s-s
parenting was easy-n-free
i only saw the best in my son
and we worked through problems +challenges
from our place of strength + goodness
then life happened
and our connection
before my eyes
patience out the window
no longer did i long
to sit on the floor
my days away
i longed for time alone
to get to the other side
stronger than ever
a different day
not like it was when he was a baby
nor like it was for that year
times have changed
better than ever
i do my best to remember
my baby boy
my little bugaboo
is still inside of him
and that mother
who loves unconditionally
is still inside of me
but now he has homework + chores
and i'm called everyday
to be strong for him
compassionate + assertive
to be the mom and the dad at home
to do my best to raise a gentleman
to hold life in Grace
with growth + challenges
under our umbrella of goodness
my phoenix baby
taught me that
every year on his birthday
i give him my gift
more presence + more patience
a commitment to the best of me
to bring out the best in him
in this 7th year of him
the unfolding + the growing
the laughs + the learning
that awesome place of being his teacher + coach
while knowing all along he is my greatest teacher
about 10 years ago
i went to a chinese medicine doctor
the father of acupuncture
a 70 year old man
who'd been practicing acupuncture
for 50 years
i asked him
"dr. cheung, do you ever go on vacation?"
vacation, this is my vacation.
everyday is my vacation.
was his reply
i nodded deeply
for that feeling
on the set
of jerry bell jr.'s
down to earth
in his success + purpose
brings big visions
his awesome crew
getting done up
doing what you love
earlier in the week
before the bliss
of the makeup chair + filming
for this weekend of goodness
my son's 7th birthday
fund-raiser for our new school
recording my videos
to be over
this is my life
my vacation everyday
to keep going
for there's more
around the corner
I'm noticing this trend and
it goes down like this...
You're trying to get out the door.
Your kids aren't getting ready.
You're gonna be late.
you lose it.
Asking turns to...
and before you know it....
at the top of your lungs
from across the room.
And then your children move.
Or maybe not.
Can you relate to this?
There is an interesting phenomenon
going on here called....
Our children can't hear us.
Here's some steps
to be more efficient & effective
in your communication
with your children.
Ready to have your children
jumping out the door in no time?
1. Take 3 deep breaths.
2. Get down at your child’s level.
3. Make eye contact to ensure you have her/his attention.
4. Put a gentle hand on his/her shoulder.
5. Say clearly, assertively, and calmly (positively!)
what it is you are telling/asking.
6. Believe your child will listen to you.
I know you're busy,
but this is worth your time!
Take those extra steps
across the room.
Get down at your child's level.
Calmly and clearly speak to your little one.
Believe your child will listen to you.
And hopefully they do.
Success stories or challenges to share?
Head over to our Facebook page
and let’s hear about it!
You got this,
Do you feel overwhelmed and tired most of the time?
Are you running on empty?
Like you'll never catch up on life and find you again.
There is a crisis of run-down mothers.
The best remedy?
Taking care of you, from the inside out.
You taking care of you, like the precious gem you are.
Here's a spa treatment for your mind, heart, body, & soul from....
Shannon Meade of supportingbalance.org
& Tweak Your Self-Talk
about the art of bringing more love for you into your life with the power of affirmations.
Shannon Meade works with busy mommas who are ready to invite more self love into their lives. She shares how she began teaching women the power of affirmations to change their lives.
Join Shannon's Tweak Your Self Talk group to join a community of women dedicated over at www.facebook.com/groups/tweakyourselftalk
"Self care, as opposed to self improvement,
is the #1 means to creating a life you love."
~ Shannon Meade
For me, as a new mom, I found it really challenging to continue to take care of myself.
I always felt most at peace when everyone in my world was well cared for and happy.
When my second son arrived, I really felt like I was drowning.
I didn't expect to feel that overwhelmed because I'd managed to cope just fine with one kid,
but two was infinitely harder. I couldn't meet everyone's needs, and that's where I was getting my self worth from, since I didn't have any time or energy to meet my own. When I couldn't keep up, that was really threatening for me. I'd completely lost myself in being a mom, and it really felt like there was no way out.
Around the time my second baby was a little over a year old, through my work relationships,
I was offered a challenge to begin doing a series of affirmations in the mirror as part of
my morning routine. I accepted the challenge, and not really being one to give up easily, I persisted.
Even though I often felt sort of ridiculous, saying "I love you" to my reflection in the mirror.
"Creating a life you love
is about striking a balance
the love you send out
into the world
and the love
and energy you pour into yourself.
When those things are not in balance,
we feel overwhelmed."
And over the month that I was really diligent about using these mirror affirmations, I started to sense a shift. It was gradual, but enough to decide to keep going, even when that month was over.
Over the course of a few months:
The crucial thing I realized is that before I really started taking the time to recognize and appreciate myself, I would try to take better care of myself.
But the whole time I was, say at yoga class, or enjoying a massage, or whatever I decided to do when I had the chance to care for me, I felt guilty.
So the benefit of the self care was really shadowed by this sense that in taking care of myself,
I was not taking care of others.
But affirming myself out loud, setting intentions for my days, just learning to get my self worth more from appreciating and accepting myself rather than looking to others for those affirmations, shifted my energy and guilt. And I could see there was actually a positive trend where if I did take time for myself, I actually had much more to give.
One of the affirmations that has been really powerful for me and I suggest moms start with is:
"I am enough."
"I am advocating self acceptance.
So much shifts in our lives when we can accept and love ourselves as we are."
If you'd like to take on a few other affirmations and dig into this process, jump into the free
Tweak Your Self Talk challenge I'm offering for the month of November.
before my mom passed away
spent on the couch
in the time
she'd lay on the couch
i'd get dinner on
listen to her
humming along to music
from back in her day
easy like sunday morning
always loved my mom's hands
easy like sunday morning
i wanted her to feel
as she ended her life
but that song
all about what gets in the way
of us feeling
why in the world would anybody put chains on me
and breaking free
part of all relationships
especially that relationship
hardest thing to do
freedom + easy
for my mom
before she passed
for the rest
from this life
our time to get free
head out into the woods
or the rolling hills
in the country
to be outside
free from chains
from our family
that taste of freedom
so i'd remember it
yearn for it
even if life seemed
to hold me back
i heard her say
about a year
after she passed
it's dead, all of it
let it go
all of it
the way it went down
before she died.
the way she looked
working hard to transition.
numbness of mourning.
knowing she's right
let it go
we even watched frozen
hard to do
from this side of life
it's dead for you, mom
no chains that bind
from that life there
in the struggle
to be free
while still in my life
but i hear you
i get it mama
don't let it
so i change it
into something else
to make the world a better place
easy like sunday morning
through the woods
on a sunday morning
easy like sunday morning
Hi friends, I write from the heart to tell my life story, and the story of those in my neighborhood called life. Research shows that our children's emotional & mental health is contingent upon us parents being able to tell our life story, or "coherent narrative." This is my coherent narrative, my life story in the making, with some of what I love in life too. My goal is to share my life in a way that is real, uplifting & positive- sometimes serious, sometimes fun. In my practice, I inspire parents to empowerment through reclaiming our life stories and learning respectful discipline. My work is my offering to our children- our future. Wishing you all a happy family!