Simplify Your Morning Routine with a BB Cream

dr jart

What would you say if you found out you could take care of your moisturizer, skin treatment, sunscreen, and makeup all at one time? You could hit the snooze button an extra time or two thanks to no longer needing to apply a product, wait for it to soak in, then apply another, and another. It’d also help keep your bathroom counter clear of extra products, and you could keep all the special serums and creams tucked away for days when you have more time and really want to pamper yourself. The solution to your morning makeup (and skin care) dilemma is called BB Cream, or Blemish Balm.

Not all BB Creams work the same way. Not all of them offer the same coverage or same amount of SPF, so if you can visit a Sephora or department store where you can get your hands on samples, do that. You may have to go through a few different kinds to find the one that offers just what you need and makes your skin look as close to flawless as a do-it-all product can. A few to check out include:

Boscia: This comes in only one color for now, but a bronzer BB Cream from this line will be on the market soon. It has SPF 27 as well as antioxidants, and the coverage is opaque for a BB cream, similar to light-to-medium coverage foundation. All skin tones are supposed to be able to wear it, but those with very fair skin may find it a bit too orange. ($38, Sephora)

Urban Decay Naked: This is another single-shade product meant to meld with most skin tones. It has SPF 20 and it’s designed to minimize pores, wrinkles, and redness instantly. If you use it on a daily or almost-daily basis over the course of eight weeks, your skin should look lifted and firmer. ($34, UrbanDecay.com)

Maybelline Dream Fresh: This doesn’t actually offer much in the way of skin treatments or coverage, but if your skin is nearly flawless anyway and you’re just looking to even out your skin tone a bit and add moisture and SPF (SPF 30), it’s worth a look. The texture is silky, it’s inexpensive (around $8), and can be found at most drugstores and Ulta. Another perk is the fact that it comes in five shades that will give your skin a healthy glow.

Dr. Jart +: This line has consistently received fantastic reviews from beauty product junkies, and some argue that these are the closest to the original Korean BB Creams you could possibly get in the United States. There are several to choose from, such as Renewalist (SPF 40), Black Label Detox (SPF 25), Water Fuse (SPF 25), and Premium (SPF 45). If it’s difficult to choose the perfect one for your skin and you’re not near a Sephora where you can give them a try, there’s a set with .5 oz of each of the four at Sephora.com for $34.

Clinique Age Defense BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30: Clinique is well-known for its skin care line, so the addition of a BB cream to the line should be no surprise. This one’s $37 at Clinique counters and Sephora, and it comes in three shades. Some reviewers feel that it’s too heavy, while others say it doesn’t offer enough coverage and they use it as a primer for their regular makeup. If you tend to love Clinique’s products, at least give this one a whirl at the counter to see how the formula feels on your skin.

BB creams can be the ultimate time savers, or if you’d prefer, they can be an extra step in your normal routine. Use them as a multi-functioning product in the mornings or use them as a foundation primer in conjunction with your normal moisturizers and serums. The important thing is to sample as many as possible in order to find your skin’s perfect match. You may never go back to the complicated morning routine again.

 

Fayetteville Nurse Wins Battle Against Colon Cancer

Beth Phillips carries the torch for cancer survivors

Beth Phillips carries the torch for cancer survivors

Fayetteville resident Beth Phillips, RN, was only 47 when she was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer, making her three years younger at the age of diagnosis than the recommended age to start colonoscopy screenings.

“People assume when they hear the words, ‘colon cancer’ that it is a disease that only affects older adults,” said Phillips. “That is not the case. There are people right here in our community who were diagnosed in their forties and even younger, including myself.”

Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Every year, an estimated 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 people die from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I don’t know if there’s a word for what I had felt, but it was totally unexpected,” said Phillips. “As a nurse, I knew my prognosis was not great. However, I thought: I’m not a statistic, I’m a person and I’m going to fight this any way that I can. One step at a time is all you can do.”

To get better, Phillips had to undergo a colon resection, complete hysterectomy, pelvic radiation, 24 rounds of chemo, a liver resection and removal of right kidney, ureter and part of her bladder. Phillips now shows no evidence of the disease, runs a colorectal cancer support group and encourages others to get screened.

“The inconvenience of a colonoscopy is nothing compared to the treatment of stage four colon cancer,” said Phillips, who spent her 25th wedding anniversary in the hospital. “Colon cancer should not be a taboo topic. Talk about it with family and friends. Find out if you have a family history and urge others to get screened.”

According to the CDC, 60 percent of deaths from colon cancer could be avoided if everyone who is 50 years or older would be screened regularly.

“Many people have precancerous polyps or even colorectal cancer and don’t know because it doesn’t always cause symptoms,” said Jonathan Bender, M.D., medical director of the Piedmont Fayette Hospital Cancer Center. “It is important for those 50 years and older to be screened regularly and those with a family history to start screenings at an even younger age.”

Phillips, who had no family history of the disease, says life has changed since she was diagnosed in 2007.

Diet plays a big role in fighting colon cancer, Beth says.

“It was hard to adjust to my ‘new normal,’” said Phillips. “I don’t have as much energy now and I eat differently.  Diet plays a huge role in colon cancer recurrence and so, eating right is a must.”

Phillips, who holds a master’s degree in counseling, started a support group with Cancer Wellness at Piedmont Fayette about a year and a half ago. The group, which has grown to about 20 members in attendance, meets every first Monday of the month at Piedmont Fayette Hospital.

Cancer Wellness at Piedmont Fayette offers other free services and programs to anyone affected by cancer at any phase in the cancer journey. Professionally-led programs include education, relaxation and stress reduction, movement and exercise, expressive arts, meditation, support groups, individual nutritional and psychological counseling, cooking demos and social events.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer may include blood in the stool, stomach pain, aches or cramps that don’t go away and weight loss for no apparent reason. These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. Those experiencing symptoms should consult a doctor.

For more information about colorectal cancer or Cancer Wellness at Piedmont Fayette, visit piedmontcancer.org.

 

Beth Phillips with husband, Chip, and children, Corey, Claire and Chad

Take Financial Steps Before Walking Down the Aisle

couple finances

Even before the ceremony, an engaged couple should take time to sit down and get serious about finances. Newlyweds need to take control of their finances or else the walk down the aisle will only lead to a rocky financial future.

In a marriage, it’s important for newlyweds to realize that they are making a financial commitment as well as an emotional commitment. Couples need to have the conversation sooner rather than later, so they can develop healthy personal financial habits together.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers the following advice for newlyweds planning their financial future together:

  • Let Financial Skeletons Out of the Closet. After marriage, any personal debt becomes “our debt.” It is important to sit down early when marriage is being discussed to discover what outstanding obligations exist on both sides. These could include car loans, school loans and credit card debt. Review your credit reports to get a better idea what both people are bringing to the marriage.
  • Build a Budget. After you’ve gotten a grasp on your debt, it’s time to build a monthly budget. Look at your monthly bills to create a realistic picture of how you spend. Discuss your long term goals—such as buying a house or car and having kids. Figure out how much money to set aside each month to reach those goals.
  • Designate a Driver But Travel Together. In order to avoid confusion, one person should be assigned to pay the bills every month. This doesn’t mean that the other person takes a back seat role in managing the finances. Have a discussion at least every month about your financial progress in order map your path and nip in the bud any bad spending habits.
  • Plan for Emergencies. Many young couples fail to save money to get them through hard times such as health problems and unexpected unemployment. Experts recommend you set aside three to six months of salary in a rainy day fund—ideally an interest-bearing account that can be easily accessed.
  • Save for the Future. Retirement may seem like a long way off to newlyweds, but setting aside money now means reaping big rewards later on. Take advantage of both employers’ retirement matching programs—if available—or set up individual retirement accounts.
  • Make a Vow to Be Savvy Consumers. Many families have had their life savings decimated after becoming a victim to fraud or identity theft. Check out BBB’s website to find trustworthy businesses, get educated on the red flags of fraud and learn how to protect your identity.

Courtesy of the Better Business Bureau

Your Post-Baby Bloom: 9 Resolutions for Renewal

mom and baby

Your Post-Baby Bloom: Nine Spring Resolutions for Renewing and Refreshing Yourself

If the winter winds have been howling outside (while your baby is howling inside), you might be experiencing a touch of the winter blues. After several weeks or months of caring for your new arrival, it’s easy to become stuck in a rut of wearing warm, baggy clothes and staying indoors. And as you contemplate the coming arrival of spring (it’s just around the corner!), you may feel like you are coming out of hibernation, a little sluggish and sleepy-eyed, wondering how to get into the swing of things again.

Princess Ivana Pignatelli Aragona Cortes knows how you feel. Realizing that you exist as an individual can come as a shock as you gradually emerge from “newborn fog,” and focusing on personal renewal as you move into life as a mom can feel like a bridge too far.

“As you spend so much of your time and energy taking care of a baby—and possibly other children—the idea of starting a new phase for yourself can feel overwhelming,” acknowledges Ivana, who is a featured blogger at Modern Mom, founder of Princess Ivana—The Modern Princess, and coauthor of the upcoming book A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year. “Don’t get hung up on the idea of major overhaul; take small steps instead. Little changes can make a surprisingly big impact. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s important to feel good about yourself, because that’s what will make you the best mother.”

Ivana points out that spring, which is naturally a time of growth, change, and renewal, is a wonderful time to start freshening yourself up.

“Start to plan some spring resolutions,” she recommends. “For me, they make more sense than New Year’s resolutions because springtime is what really feels like the new year. With more hours of sunlight, warmer weather, and vibrant colors to brighten your days, you’ll naturally feel more energized and motivated to refresh yourself and re-enter the world, baby in tow.”

Here are nine of Ivana’s spring resolutions that will help make your winter doldrums a thing of the past while you begin to blossom as a mom:

Take a step (or two, or three, or more!) toward change. If you’re disappointed to see that last spring’s wardrobe doesn’t quite fit the way you want, don’t worry: You’re normal. Most of us tend to put on winter weight in general. (Did you know that you actually need more calories to keep warm in colder weather?) And with a new baby, your body was bound to change shape regardless of the temperature.

“Instead of vowing to start a huge new exercise routine, which, of course, you don’t have time for, I suggest developing a new attitude instead,” Ivana shares. “First, accentuate the positives! Look into the mirror and say, ‘Hey, you’re looking pretty good for the end of the winter.’ Then, start burning calories in baby steps. Promise yourself a ten-minute routine in the mornings; maybe a simple, fun dance DVD that gets you moving for the day. As you build up stamina, you may want to lengthen your routine. And if time is in short supply, remember, a ten-minute workout is better than none.

“You might also try to find ways to work out with your kids,” she continues. “With warmer weather and sunny days ahead, load up the stroller and hit the local park or walking trail. Find a mommy-and-me yoga class, or have older and more mobile little ones do the dance DVD with you. Whatever you choose, take plenty of moments to honor your progress with a big ‘Way to go!’”

Spring clean your closet. (And be sure to include a dose of color therapy!) If you’ve recently had a baby, then you may be living in wardrobe limbo. The clothes from last spring don’t fit the way they should (and might not be suited to nursing anyway!), but you’re sick of wearing the drapey, frumpy winter clothes that have been hiding the leftover baby weight. What better time than now to “spring clean” your closet? Take an inventory of what you have, what doesn’t work for you anymore, and what you’d like to purchase. Clean out any pieces that you know you won’t wear anymore, even after you’ve reached a goal weight—like that skimpy number you wore on your honeymoon five years ago. Start thinking about ways to reinvent the pieces you keep.

“It’s perfectly okay to go out and buy some new pieces that actually fit you now,” Ivana assures. “Don’t spend the entire spring and summer season in clothes that don’t fit or don’t make you feel good just because you are ‘waiting to lose the weight.’ Invest in some fun new accessories and shoes to spice up existing basics. Trust me; when your clothes fit and you feel put together, you’ll feel more energized and refreshed.

“As you’re punching up your wardrobe with new pieces, bear in mind that colors affect our moods,” Ivana adds. “Whether we had babies or not, most of us have spent the past several months covered up head-to-toe in heavy grays, blacks, and browns. Chances are, you’re more than ready to turn to vibrant high-energy colors like pinks, greens, yellows, oranges, and blues for an instant boost. So try out a new color that makes you pop. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Go for a simple t-shirt, new lip color, or nail polish.”

Get outside and play. Admit it: After short days, cold temperatures, and the need for your schedule to revolve around a newborn, you’re more than ready to leave your house. As soon as possible, take advantage of the warmer weather and longer daylight hours to reconnect with your body.

“Go for walks,” Ivana urges. “Spend more time at the playground with your children. Act like French moms, who have their own playtime on the benches talking with each other, while their kids run wild and are forced to fend for themselves. Amazingly, this works! (For more on laissez-faire parenting, see my blog at http://www.modernmom.com/blogs/princess-ivana-pignatelli/laissez-faire-parenting.) And remember, in addition to the benefits of getting your body moving, you’ll also be absorbing more vitamin D from the sun. It can help regulate your immune system, boost your mood, and more.”

Try something new you’ve always wanted to do. Whether it’s trying out a dance class or yoga, exploring a new park, or just giving yourself permission to do something you want to do (like hiring a sitter and getting a massage!), put your own desires first every once in awhile. “If you try something new and don’t like it, drop it and find something that’s more your speed,” Ivana comments. “Enjoyment—of life, of yourself, of your surroundings—is the key to springtime renewal.”

Eat more fresh foods. With a new baby at home (and all the work, irregular hours, and exhaustion that entails), you’ve probably been in survival mode this winter. While there’s nothing wrong with eating take-out and casseroles brought over by family and friends as you adjust to the new normal, now’s a great time to freshen up your diet with healthier choices. Remember, good nutrition affects mood, energy, and beauty.

“Take advantage of the spring harvest with delicious beauty foods like asparagus, strawberries, and cherries,” Ivana recommends. “Asparagus is known as the ultimate detox vegetable. Strawberries are high in vitamin C, which produces collagen and prevents wrinkles. Cherries are considered both a brain and beauty food, with some of the highest levels of antioxidants of all fruits.

“In general, you might consider planting a small herb container garden so that you’ll have fresh seasonings all summer long,” Ivana says. “Spend a Saturday morning enjoying the spring weather with your new little family as you stroll through a local farmers’ market. And remember, becoming healthier doesn’t have to mean a total diet overhaul. Integrating new, fresh ingredients a little at a time can make a big difference!”

Laugh and reconnect. If you’ve been cooped up all winter with a newborn at home (and/or stuck inside with kids as you try to avoid cold and flu season!), then it may be time to reconnect with friends. Try to make a weekly or monthly date with your girlfriends—and keep it.

“We moms tend to be overly obligatory to responsibility, and under-obligatory to fun,” Ivana observes. “But without a good dose of fun and laughter, life gets dull, and so do we. Moms, we owe it to ourselves to book fun into our busy schedules.”

Make regular dates for mama maintenance. With a newborn at home or little ones taking up most of your schedule, it’s easy to let your own needs fall by the wayside—and before you know it, you wake up one day and hardly recognize the frazzled, frumpy woman staring back at you in the mirror!

“Take some time to catch up on appointments for yourself,” Ivana suggests. “It doesn’t have to be an all-out spa day. (Although if that falls within the limits of your time and budget, I say go for it!) Get your hair trimmed and your color touched up. Get a manicure and pedicure. Schedule a facial or a massage. Even a trip to the dentist for your bi-annual cleaning can work wonders when it comes to feeling refreshed, energized, and more like you again.”

Renew your vow to drink more water. If you’ve traded your daily water intake for coffee and caffeine (and who can blame you?), then it may be time to make a conscious effort to work water back into your daily routine. H2O is good for your skin, muscles, and energy levels, and it can even marginally help your weight-loss efforts. (Of course, the real benefits come from replacing sugary beverages with water.) And if you’re breastfeeding, it’s worth noting that staying hydrated is a great way to maintain or even increase your supply of milk.

“Yes, drinking the recommended eight glasses a day is much easier said than done,” Ivana admits. “Again, baby steps are the way to go! You might start by drinking water after every caffeinated beverage, for example. Or gulp a whole glass each time you brush your teeth! Over time, these habits will become hardwired into your routine.”

Spark up a spring fling (with your spouse!). If the last few months have revolved around feeding schedules, diaper duty, and discussions of who got up with the baby last, then it’s likely that the new roles of “mom” and “dad” have put your other roles as “wife,” “husband,” or “partner” on the back burner. Now’s the time to reconnect with your significant other and refresh your love. After all, your romance is the foundation on which your growing family is built, and it’s in everyone’s best interests for your relationship to remain strong, healthy, and exciting.

“If you’re not quite ready to leave your little one with a sitter for date night, set up a candlelight dinner at home, or better yet, take the baby monitor outside for a sunset picnic in the backyard,” Ivana says. “Buy a new dress that makes you feel sexy. Leave your man a love note in his briefcase. More than anything, make a conscious effort to talk about something that doesn’t have to do with the new baby (as hard as that may be!).”

“As the flowers and trees outside your window begin to bloom in the upcoming weeks, make every effort to join them,” Ivana concludes. “When you commit to tackling one small spring resolution at a time, you’ll be well on your way to blooming—both as an individual and as a mom—after welcoming your baby.”

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About Princess Ivana: Ivana is the author of the upcoming book A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year, which was cowritten with her mother, Magdalene Smith, and her sister, Marisa Smith. Their blog, Princess Ivana—The Modern Princess, is a blend of humor, practical advice, and lifestyle tips on the essentials. Ivana is also a featured blogger on Modern Mom. For more information, please visit www.princessivana.com.

Heart Health Matters: An Interview with Dr. Bukola Olubi

Dr. Bukola Olubi

Dr. Bukola Olubi is a cardiologist at Piedmont Fayette,who graciously allowed us to interview her in honor of heart health month.

Dr. Bukola Olubi

 

Q.         Why did you choose to go into Cardiology?

A.         As a medical student, cardiology appealed to me. I was absolutely fascinated with everything related to the heart.

 

Q.         What do you like most about your job?

A.         I love being able to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s extremely rewarding. But it goes both ways in that the people I work with and the patients I interact with on a daily basis also make a difference in my life. The wealth of knowledge that they impart on me through their various experiences is priceless.

 

Q.         What is heart disease and why should we be concerned?

A.         Heart disease is an umbrella term for any type of disorder that affects the heart. There are several different forms of heart disease. These include conditions that can affect:

  • Blood flow to the heart: A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually by a clot.
  • Disease of the heart muscle. Congestive heart failure can occur when the heart muscle is too weak or too stiff.
  • Heart rhythm problems. This occurs when the heart beats to fast, slow or irregularly. This may result in the need for a pacemaker or defibrillator.
  • Heart valve problems. A valve replacement/repair may be required if a valve is diseased or infected.

It is important to be concerned about heart disease because if it is left untreated or undiagnosed, many heart conditions can lead to disability and premature death. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

 

Q.         What are the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack?

A.         The typical signs of a heart attack include chest pain, pressure and a feeling of fullness and squeezing that lasts more than a few minutes or comes and goes. Atypical signs include pain, discomfort or numbness in one or both arms, back, jaw or even between the shoulder blades. Other warning signs include shortness of breath, heartburn, nausea, lightheadedness and cold sweats. Symptoms to watch out for especially in women is feeling fatigued—sometimes for days or weeks before a heart attack occurs. Women may also have heart flutters or lose their appetite.

 

Q.         What should you do if you experience any of the warning signs?

A.         If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention. Early recognition of warning signs is critical to reducing the chance of death from heart disease, since interventions are most effective within the first several hours after a heart attack.

 

Q.         Are heart attacks the only heart condition we should be worried about?

A.         No, there are several different forms of heart disease. Other common types of heart diseases include congestive heart failure, heart rhythm problems like atrial fibrillation (commonly called AFib), infection and diseases of the heart valves, just to mention a few. Nearly five million people in the United States are currently living with congestive heart failure.

 

Q.         Aside from maintaining a proper diet and exercising regularly, are there any other recommendations you have for our readers to help keep a heart healthy?

A.         Aside from maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen, I recommend being aware of your family history and your numbers. Make sure to keep your cholesterol in check and see your doctor regularly. Also, it’s a good idea to avoid excessive alcohol intake. If you are man, you should not exceed more than two glasses a day. Women should have no more than one.

Other good measures include:

  • Ensure you maintain adequate blood pressure
  • Don’t smoke and avoid tobacco exposure
  • Optimize blood sugar control
  • Follow your doctor’s orders for taking medications
  • Have your cholesterol levels checked regularly starting at age 20

Dr. Olubi specializes in clinical cardiology. A graduate of Saba University School of Medicine in the Nertherlands Antilles, she completed her residency at Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, where she was chief resident and received the Outstanding Senior Resident Award. Following her residency, Dr. Olubi completed a fellowship in cardiology at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois, where she was chief fellow.

She is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and its subspecialty Board of Cardiovascular Disease. A member of the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association, Dr. Olubi has a particular interest in women’s health. When she is not working, she enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her husband, daughter and son.

A Healthy Heart is a Happy Heart

woman relaxing

February is American Heart Month. Do yourself a favor and incorporate these simplified ways of doing everyday tasks to save energy for active recreational activities that keep your heart healthy.

UTILIZE BODY MECHANICS. One of the easiest ways to save energy is to use your body correctly. This means distributing work over several sets of muscles and using the stronger ones whenever possible. By doing this, you are bound to have fewer accidents and less energy will be consumed, leaving you feeling “fresher” at the end of each day.

PACE YOURSELF. Find a rhythmic, relaxed way of doing things and you may accomplish more than you thought you could. Also, don’t procrastinate. Allowing enough time to do complete tasks means you won’t be rushing to the finish line at the last minute. Pace yourself, walk slowly with good breathing control and you’ll notice a definite decrease in stress levels as well. Stress management is a key component to heart health.

BE AT PEACE. Control of mind can be more difficult to achieve than control of the body but it is well worth the effort. Train yourself to accept things you cannot change and you will have more energy to change the things you can control.

SIMPLIFY WORK. Plan ahead as much as possible to minimize stress. Balance your work week by spreading out the heavy tasks and adding some of the lighter tasks in between. Make a schedule daily and allow for short rest periods between activities throughout the day to reset your mind. Organize the equipment at your work station and throw away things you do not use.

When tackling individual tasks, break down the operation into steps and figure out the most efficient way of accomplishing the task. Do them in the same way each time as repetition will make you more proficient and save time and energy. When you work more efficiently, you reduce the strain on your heart and cardiovascular system. Plus, you’ll minimize fatigue, shortness of breath and back pain, prevent injury and increase you energy level.

BREATHE EASY Slow, deep breathing is relaxing and helps slow and smooth out boy motion. Avoid taking short, jerky breaths or holding the breath when using the arms or when in a hurry. Slow deep breathing uses more of your lungs and gets more oxygen into your blood.

Once you master these tips, use that extra energy at the end of the day to engage in heart healthy activities like walking instead of watching TV.

 

Lisa Chaphe is an occupational therapist at Piedmont Fayette Hospital with 24 years of experience. She has lived in Fayette County for 11 years with her husband and two children, who are now in high school.

 

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Caring for the Caregiver

senior care

Being a caregiver for someone with a serious illness or chronic condition isn’t easy. There are a multitude of demands on your time, energy, and resources (and in the privacy of your own mind, you might even amend that to too many). Between doctors’ appointments, dispensing medication, helping the ill person complete daily tasks, managing the ill person’s household, providing meals, and more, it’s all too easy to feel overburdened, overstressed, and overwhelmed.

That’s why Walter St. John, Ed.D., says it’s so important for caregivers to develop healthy and habitual coping mechanisms.

“Even when the ill person is someone whom you love deeply, such as a spouse or parent, being a caregiver puts you under a tremendous amount of mental, emotional, and often physical stress,” points out St. John, author of Solace: How Caregivers and Others Can Relate, Listen, and Respond Effectively to a Chronically Ill Person. “And it’s not always possible to, as the popular saying goes, ‘keep calm and carry on’ while avoiding negative repercussions.”

As a result of the constant stress they’re under, caregivers often suffer from fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, a lowered immune system, and much more.

“Because they are so focused on meeting the needs of another individual, it’s common for caregivers to put their own well-being on the back burner,” St. John explains. “But in the end, ignoring your own needs, wants, frustrations, and health has a negative effect on you and on the ill person. It’s very important for you to be aware of what your mind, body, and emotions are telling you, and to have coping mechanisms in place to help you manage stress and maintain your sanity while still meeting the needs of the ill person.”

Here, St. John shares ten healthy ways for caregivers to effectively cope with stress:

Have realistic expectations for yourself. When many people take on caregiving roles, they have unrealistic expectations regarding how much they’ll be able to do, what their relationship with the ill person will be like, what type of attitude they’ll have, and so much more. And when reality doesn’t match these ideals, negativity, conflict, stress, and disappointment can result.

According to St. John, that’s why it’s so important not to set your self-expectations too high.

“First of all, learn to accept what you cannot change and focus only on the things that you can change,” he advises. “Also, realize that you cannot give what you do not have, so know your mental and physical limits, and be aware of your personal limitations regarding your availability to care for the ill person. You must know when to step back to recharge your energy batteries; in fact, setting healthy boundaries is best for you and for your ill loved one. Just be sure to explain your time and availability limitations to the person for whom you are caring in order to avoid misunderstandings.”

Obtain advice on caregiving from experienced caregivers. The good news is, you’re not alone. Others have been where you are today, and even if your situations don’t match exactly, they can still share valuable advice and insight on your new role.

“There are so many sources of help and guidance to which you can reach out,” points out St. John. “They include, but are certainly not limited to: friends or relatives who have acted as caregivers, the ill person’s medical team (e.g., doctors and nurses), clergy, social workers specializing in caregiving, and nursing home professional staff. Furthermore, there may be caregiver support groups in your area, and they can certainly be found online. I promise, it’s much better to learn various coping techniques in advance from experienced caregivers, rather than learning them the hard way through trial and error.”

Accept that as a caregiver, you need help. One person cannot do it all, especially in an intensive caregiving situation; in fact, you should try to have at least two other people to help you. With that in mind, tell your family and friends what you need and how they can assist you as soon as possible. Be sure to explain the level of commitment required as well as the accompanying time demands in order to secure their full support and understanding.

“I suggest writing down the kinds of help you will require and giving copies to the appropriate people,” says St. John. “And in addition to providing these general guidelines, don’t hesitate to ask for help with specific tasks or responsibilities whenever you need it. Especially if you foresee yourself and your ‘team’ of helpers becoming stretched thin, consider taking the ill person to a daycare center several times a week. Remember, there is no shame—and a lot of good sense—in sharing the caregiving duties and responsibilities as much as is possible and practical.”

Control the caregiving situation, rather than letting it control you. Even though you have volunteered to take care of someone else’s needs, you are not at the mercy of or under the complete control of the ill person. Rather, you have the right and responsibility to make yourself understood; to ensure that your own needs are being met; to protect yourself from excessive stress, physical and mental strain, and even abuse.

“In other words, you don’t have to passively ‘take’ everything the ill person and others involved might throw at you,” explains St. John. “Yes, there will be some non-negotiables (for instance, medication might need to be taken at a certain time each day no matter what), but other aspects of your responsibilities and routine will be up for negotiation. Be proactive, rather than reactive, by securing agreement on ground rules of conduct when your caregiving begins.”

Make every effort to still live your own life. When some individuals become caregivers, they consciously or unconsciously push the “pause” button on their own lives. They may stop spending time with their own friends and family, cease to participate in hobbies and activities, and completely rearrange their schedules in order to best care for the ill person. When you allow your entire life to revolve around your ill loved one, your mental health, physical health, relationships, and more can suffer.

“Do your best to balance your previous life activities and routines with the newer demands of caregiving,” recommends St. John. “Never forget that you still have your own life to live. Be empathetic with the ill person regarding his or her personal problems (i.e., those that don’t relate to his or her health, medical care, and immediate needs), but refrain from making these problems your own. You can’t—and shouldn’t—own the ill person’s problems. This is not only impossible, but unhealthy.”

Insist on some private time each day. Time to yourself may suddenly become a luxury. Many caregivers find that there are more than enough tasks to keep them busy throughout every waking moment of the day. But for the sake of your own mental, emotional, and even physical health, it’s crucial that you set aside time to take care of your own needs and desires.

Keep mentally and physically fit. The truth is, you’ll be best equipped for the responsibilities and demands of caregiving if you maintain your mental and physical health. (If you don’t, expect to deal with issues ranging from a lowered immune system to depression!) Here are some of St. John’s suggestions:

Eat balanced, nutritious, stress-free meals at about the same time each day.

  • Get adequate sleep on a regular basis.
  • Take several brief rest periods daily.
  • See your doctor promptly when you need to.
  • Schedule periodic medical examinations.
  • Beware of too much self-medication (e.g., taking tranquilizers).
  • Get lots of exercise regularly.

Learn to say no. If you’re around someone who’s ill, demands will be made of you. That’s normal. Especially if you’re a caregiver, you’re agreeing to do things the sick person can’t handle himself. It’s crucial to understand, though, that you can’t say yes to everything. While you may be the “healthy one,” you still have physical and mental limits. And when you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll end up stretching yourself too thin, and perhaps even harming yourself or the ill person.

“It is much better to respond with a responsible no as opposed to an irresponsible yes,” says St. John. “It especially does not mean that you are weak or selfish. Just be sure to deliver your response with love. Explain your reasons and reaffirm how much you care for the ill person.”

Encourage the ill person to do as many things for himself or herself as he or she can without overdoing it.
In all but the most extreme cases, he or she will still be able to complete some tasks on his or her own. Try to identify what your loved one can handle without becoming overwhelmed and exhausted (some examples might include paying bills, folding laundry while seated, and sorting medication), and then encourage him or her to take on these jobs.

“You’ll be helping both the ill person and yourself,” says St. John. “There’s no need to tax yourself with unnecessary effort; chances are, you have enough on your plate to begin with. Meanwhile, the ill person will still feel in control of his or her own life. In general, a good attitude to have is: I’m willing to help you as little or as much as you want me to, but I won’t do things for you that you prefer to do for yourself.”

Know ahead of time what to say or do when your patience becomes exhausted. There’s no doubt about it: Caregiving is stressful. Some days you may become frustrated because the ill person is angry and rude (when this happens, keep in mind that seriously ill people have a lot to feel upset about!); other days, the constant demands of caregiving might weigh heavily enough that you reach the end of your rope. On such occasions, do what is necessary to remain cool and collected, even if you have to pause for a few seconds or leave the room. You can’t always control the ill person’s behavior, but you can control your own response.

“When you’re out of patience, it is best to simply say, ‘I’m sorry—I need to leave now, but I’ll be back later,’” shares St. John. “This approach is preferable to your remaining on the scene and showing anger or, worse yet, saying something in the heat of the moment that you’ll regret later.”

“The bottom line is, you need to take care of yourself first if you want to effectively care for the ill person,” St. John concludes. “Sacrificing yourself unnecessarily doesn’t do anyone any good. And remember, it’s okay—and encouraged!—to spend time on yourself.”

 

About the Author: Dr. Walter St. John is a retired college professor and administrator who lives with his wife in Old Town, Maine. He has hands-on experience with disabled veterans, multihandicapped youth, and Special Olympics participants, and he has written widely in the field of communications.

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How to Combine Discounts to Save a Bundle

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I recently found myself plagued with the decision to replace an expensive appliance: the refrigerator. The existing one just wasn’t cutting it anymore but I knew this big-ticket buy would make a serious dent in our bank account.

When the time came to pull the trigger on this pricey purchase, I took on the challenge of finding as many ways to save without sacrificing quality and style. In the end, I saved approximately 17 percent and am extremely pleased with the look, features and price of our new refrigerator.

With Labor Day sales behind us, you may think your opportunity for saving on an appliance has passed. However, big bucks can still be achieved by following these tips.

1. Research, research, research.
With so many brands, models, sizes and features to choose from, shopping for refrigerators can get confusing. Prices range anywhere from $400 to thousands of dollars, so evaluate the layout of your kitchen to determine the optimal size of refrigerator for your home. Then, research which model and features are most important to you — do you prefer top or bottom mount, side-by-side or french-door styles? If you’re unsure what I am talking about, then it’s time to do some homework!

2. Price Out Big Box Stores.
Now that you have an idea of what refrigerator is best for your home and family, price it out at big-box stores like Sears, Lowe’s, Best Buy and The Home Depot. Purchasing at such retailers gives you the greatest chance to score discounts and get free delivery and installation. To avoid driving around town, compare prices online first using a site like PriceGrabber. Some retailers may offer to price-match a competitor’s lower offer, so use your research as leverage in the negotiation.

3. Don’t Forget Removal.
Just as important as it is to find out about delivery and installation costs, you need to inquire about removal of the old appliance too. Some retailers may offer the service for a fee while others may include it in the price. Ask before buying or try to negotiate a discounted or complimentary rate with the sales associate.

4. Gift Yourself.
Gift cards are not only great gifts for friends, they’re great gifts for you, too! Once you determine from which retailer you’re buying the refrigerator, check GiftCardGranny.com to find the highest discounted gift card for that store. Purchase as many gift cards as you can to cover the estimated cost of the new appliance. You can score discount gift cards of up to 10-percent off the face value, meaning you score an automatic 10-percent off your purchase.

5. Match It.
Matching coupons with sales can drive the price of any purchase down further, but finding those deals and staying up on the retailer’s latest offers can seem daunting. To make it simple, sign up to receive retailers’ e-newsletters or follow them on Facebook or Twitter for updates on upcoming promotions or exclusive discounts. Don’t forget to check your physical mailbox, either; I found a coupon for $25 off at Lowe’s and waited until my coveted appliance went on sale for an additional 10-percent off. Yeah!

6. Know The Best Time to Buy.
As I mentioned previously, research is essential for making a smart buying decision. However, making an informed purchase is based not only on sales and coupons, but also in knowing when to shop for the best price on a certain item. The Best Time to Buy Guide on FreeShipping.org breaks down purchases by month, while Decide.com provides you with a one-click recommendation on whether to buy or wait.

7. Review Your Order.
With a stack of coupons and discount gift cards, the tally of savings can get confusing. Be patient with the cashier but make sure he or she doesn’t miss a discount by thoroughly reviewing your receipt. Hold on to remaining gift cards to put toward the balance of a future purchase, or sell them for some cash back.

Photo credit: akeg.

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Maisie Knowles is a working mother of two with three-year’s experience writing on parenting and partner issues. She co-founded Kinoli Inc. with her husband in 2005 and currently spends most of her time at home with her two young girls. For more information, visit MaisieKnowles.com.

Squeaky Clean Tips to Simplify Your Laundry Routine

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(Family Features) If it seems that you can never quite diminish the size of your laundry pile, you’re not alone. Laundry is a part of everyday life and the more people in your household, the bigger the pile and the more often you need to wash. Designate one place in your home to be the laundry zone and sort through these time-saving tips to make your laundry routine faster and easier, leaving you with more time to do the things you love.

De-clutter and reorganize. Clear some space from your shelves to give yourself more room to work in the laundry room. Get rid of old containers, trash and even those stray socks missing their pair. Place a small basket or tray near the washer for collecting small items and loose change found in pockets. This prevents clutter as well as accidents in the wash. Larger baskets labeled delicates, lights and darks help to keep clothes easily sorted and off of the floor.

Essentials at-the-ready. Keep frequently used items easily accessible by placing them on a shelf designed to fit on top of your washing machine. Store smaller items in stackable baskets or bins so they aren’t in the way. Make sure your detergent is placed high enough so that little hands can’t grab it, but within reach for older kids to take over their own laundry chores.

Get rid of hassle and bulk. Save yourself from the trouble of heavy bottles and messy spills. Choose a multi-purpose detergent that comes pre-measured, like Arm & Hammer(tm) Plus OxiClean(tm) Crystal Burst Power Paks. Just toss one in the washer with your laundry and go.

Sort and go. Give everyone in the family their own small mesh laundry bag for items that tend to get lost and mixed-up such as socks and underwear. Collect the bags and throw them in the washer and dryer together so that everything stays sorted.

Prep for final steps. Save time from ironing by pulling clothes directly from the dryer after the cycle is complete. Keep a stack of hangers nearby to hang clothes immediately for a wrinkle-free wardrobe. Designate an area of nearby countertop or a table to make folding and organizing clothes out of the dryer quicker.

 

For more ways to simplify your laundry routine, check out www.armandhammer.com.

19 Strategies for Replenishing Your Emotional Energy

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You’re a modern woman…which means you’re barely surviving. You work yourself to the bone for ever-diminishing returns, thanks to the rising cost of everything from gas to food to health insurance. Meanwhile, you serve as cook, maid, shrink, tutor, and handyman at home. When life’s little “emergencies” crop up—a broken water heater, a toothache, a parent-teacher conference to discuss your son’s recent homework boycott—well, those land on your plate, too. No wonder you feel you’re one permission slip away from a complete breakdown!

Women should not accept this state of stressed-out existence and call it living, insists Vickie Milazzo. You can lead a successful life and cultivate a wellspring of energy that will renew your mind, body, and soul every day—but first you’ve got to give yourself a break.

“Today’s woman has taken on an extreme life crammed to overflowing with commitments and responsibility,” observes Milazzo, author of the New York Times bestseller, Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman. “It’s not possible to stretch yourself to the breaking point every day and not break.

“You wouldn’t expect a battery to keep going forever without recharging it, and you shouldn’t expect it of yourself either,” she adds. “Women need to learn to revitalize their minds, bodies, emotions, and spirits frequently, so that they’ll have abundant energy whenever they need it.”

Read on for 19 strategies that every woman can use to replenish her emotional energy:

1. Get away. Take one day off with no responsibilities like Melissa, who assigns Saturday child-care duty to her husband, sends him and the kids to the zoo or park, and enjoys a renewal day.

2. Take a virtual vacation. Women are sensual creatures. We enjoy rich fabrics, exotic fragrances, music, dance, and art. Indulging in the occasional sensory banquet is second only to an actual getaway. Blanche enjoys vacations in her bathtub with candles, bath oil, a glass of wine, and her favorite CD. Maybe you’d prefer to lounge in your backyard or hammock with a favorite beverage or to curl up in bed with a deliciously light book.

3. Hug a tree…or an iceberg! Getting off the grid is not always an easy thing to do. (You don’t just hop onto the 5:15 train to Bhutan.) Still, make it a goal at least once a year to get far away, into something so different that it forces you out of your regular relaxation routine into one that entirely disconnects you from day-to-day life. Many people find that nature and wildlife provide two of the most powerful tools for relaxation in the world.

4. Renew with music. Play music that energizes or relaxes you, depending upon what’s called for. Choose classical pieces for intense projects and rock and roll for cooking, household chores, or packing suitcases. At night, play slow music to unwind and relax.

5. Choose happiness. The fact is, happiness is not only contagious to others, it’s contagious to ourselves. You may not always wake up happy, but wherever you are physically or emotionally, try to focus on the part of the experience that is good. Life will always throw us curveballs, fastballs, and, just when you think you know what’s coming next, the occasional change-up. Being happy to the core helps us hit them back—no matter how fast they are or how many come our way. Think of the woman who refused to move out of the drama of a negative experience. For two weeks she dwelled on something that was easily solved in three minutes. How many opportunities did she miss during those two weeks because she chose to grouse? Decide every day that nothing will get in the way of choosing happiness.

6. Monitor your intimate companions. Nothing drains energy faster than negative thinking. Your thoughts do control your life; in fact, they are your most intimate companions. When you notice that you’re wasting energy thinking negatively about someone or something, remind yourself that you’re only attacking and harming yourself with such thoughts. This is not to say that you can—or should—ignore your feelings or reality. But when you learn to control your thoughts, you touch new places of feeling that are even more real.

7. Turn off the critic. Do you find that your inner “critical voice” rears its head way too often? For instance, you might wonder, Is it me or was that secretary less friendly than usual? Did I do something? Or perhaps you walk into your house and, in an instant, zero in on everything that’s wrong: the messy kitchen, the scratched coffee table, the pile of bills waiting on the counter. However, allowing this inner critic to be your dominant communication style will negatively impact you, your family, and anyone else you encounter. Instead, try to intentionally notice and comment on the good things to fuel your success energy.

8. Be nice and watch how nice people will be in return. There is an economy of emotion with niceness. Few things will give you more energy than the rewards of being nice. Likewise, nothing will drain your emotional energy faster than not playing nice with others.

9. Dump toxic clutter. Because you have important familial, professional, and social commitments, it’s important to eliminate toxic or emotionally draining relationships and other social clutter, just as you dump the mess that accumulates on your desk. This gives you time for relationships that matter—husband, family, and best friends. Likewise, guard what enters your mind. For example, it’s important to be aware of the world around you, but there’s no need to listen to negative news stories 24/7. Remember, each minute is a precious gift, so always strive to keep your energies within your “circle of influence.”

10. Detach. Why put your own precious emotional energy into someone or something else that doesn’t provide a positive return? Detach from emotional unrest that doesn’t serve a purpose in your life and feel the increase in your own positive energy charge.

11. Lighten up. It’s tempting to behave as though everything you do is intensely important. But unless you let go of some of that intensity, you’ll be emotionally exhausted. When you find yourself making mountains out of molehills, ask yourself, “In one year, will this be significant?” Lighten up. If you push, you get resistance. Be less serious about the outcome of the little things.

12. Learn a new language. As soon as you label something “bad,” you limit your ability to have fun. Milazzo used to “hate” the cold, and then one day in Iceland a woman told her, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” Since then she has explored the Canadian Rockies, the Antarctic, the Arctic, trekked the Everest and Annapurna sides of Nepal, and stood among prayer flags on a 13,000-foot high mountain pass looking across Bhutan’s Haa Valley and the Himalayas into Tibet…and she loved it, because she brought the right gear. When you substitute the right mental gear for the word “hate,” you will be amazed at how much emotional energy you gain. Take all such negative words down a notch in mind and voice, and notice how differently you feel.

13. Let it go. Do you suffer from dissatisfaction and frustration? Do you find yourself whining and complaining instead of acting on your passionate vision? Try letting it all go and see the difference that it makes in your day. Appreciate what you have. When frustration happens, take a breath and let it go.

14. Enjoy the moment. How often do you hear or say, “Thank God it’s Friday”? Do we want to enjoy only two days out of seven? Why not “Thank God it’s today”? If you are living for the weekend, you aren’t living. You can’t repeat a day or even an hour or minute. You’ll never get that time back. Treat every moment as a precious gift.

15. Practice gratitude. For happy people, gratitude seems to outweigh desire. For unhappy people, it’s about want, want, want, with little gratitude in return. Now, there’s nothing wrong with desire, because desires fire your passionate vision. But gratitude must always be greater. Otherwise, you’ll never be satisfied or happy. Acknowledge daily three things you’re grateful for, small or large, and express gratitude to others as well.

16. Accept yourself as you are. How often do we let the comparison game rob us of joy? If you’re five-feet-two-inches tall, with sturdy ankles, you’ll never grow into a lithe five-feet-seven-inches. The fact is, some things we can change and others we can’t. Let the things you can’t change about yourself go.

17. Find the fun. Fun is healing, and laughter keeps us sane. Laughter raises T-cell counts, relaxes blood vessels, eases muscle tension, and reduces psychological stress, which enhances learning. Laughter can happen when you least expect it…if you let it.

18. Create your own party. Growing up in New Orleans taught Milazzo that you can have a party anywhere—at your house, in your mind, or, as her father says while chowing down on a good muffaletta, in your mouth. Embrace life with energy and joy. Wherever you go physically, emotionally, or mentally, take the party with you.

19. Eat dessert first. Sometimes we treat renewal like a dessert we have to earn by eating our vegetables. Mardi Gras taught Milazzo to celebrate before the hard work. Prior to the sacrifice of Lent, the city of New Orleans would party hearty for two weeks. So feast before you fast, and eat dessert first.

 

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About the Author:

Vickie Milazzo, RN, MSN, JD, is the author of the New York Times bestseller Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman (Wiley, 2011). From a shotgun house in New Orleans to owner of a $16-million business, Milazzo shares the innovative success strategies that earned her a place on the Inc. list of Top 10 Entrepreneurs and Inc. Top 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies in America.

 

The Art of Saying No

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By Dr. Travis Bradberry
John Gailbraith’s housekeeper was a whiz when it came to saying no. One day in 1965 the noted economist was taking a nap when President Lyndon Johnson called his home. “He’s taking a nap and has left strict orders not to be disturbed,” his housekeeper told the President. Johnson replied, “Well, I’m the President. Wake him up.” Her response? A simple: “I’m sorry, Mr. President, but I work for Mr. Galbraith, not for you.” Then she hung up.

Research from the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Saying no is indeed a major challenge for most people. Anyone who suffers from the stress that comes from over commitment can get help themselves by following these simple strategies for saying no.

1. Find your yes

Before you can become good at saying no, you have to know what you’re saying yes to when you’re saying no. You see every opportunity that you pass with a no is really saying yes to something else—something that you’d prefer to do or something more important to you in the long run. You can’t hope to say no when the pressure is on until you know for sure what you really want. When you’re feeling pressure to say yes and acquiescence feels easier than taking a stand, just think of your yes. If joining the PTA fundraising committee means spending even less time with your children, focusing your attention on this fact will embolden you to say no and keep your priorities straight.

2. Sleep on it

Even if you feel like saying yes (and certainly if you’re having doubts), ask for a day to think about it before providing an answer. It’s going to be much easier to say no once you’ve had time to consider all of your commitments and whether the item in question is a realistic addition to your schedule. This will also give you a chance to come up with the best way to say no.

3. Sandwich the no between two yeses

Sandwiching a no between two yeses ensures that your no will be more palatable. It’s also a great way to explain that to which you are already committed. For example, if your boss asks you to work on the
weekend, but you have family commitments you cannot break, explain these commitments to your boss (the first yes), how that prevents you from coming in on the weekend (the no), and finish by confirming your commitment to the company and your work (the final yes) by asking if there are other ways you can contribute that don’t require you to come in that weekend.

4. Make sure you’re actually saying “no”

Make no mistake about it, no is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, you need to avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Using limp phrases instead of saying no will often be considered a yes. Pulling this off requires a certain degree of emotional intelligence (EQ). When it’s time to say no, just say no!

5. Be prepared to repeat yourself

If you say no and the other party pushes back, the best thing you can do is repeat yourself. This is much easier to do when you recognize beforehand that it is often necessary. In some cases, you may have to
repeat yourself more than once. If you offered any explanation with your original response, you can repeat this explanation or just say no again. Don’t back yourself into a corner by trying to explain  yourself further. It is your right to say no to any request, and you’ll often need to be firm in order to have your intentions understood.

Putting These Strategies to Work

Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill these commitments. Saying no can certainly open doors; for example, when John Galbraith woke up from his nap, the first thing President Johnson wanted to know was the identity of the woman who told him no. After he found out, Johnson said, “I want her working for me.”

 

 

About the Author: Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the cofounder of TalentSmart (http://www.TalentSmart.com), the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence (EQ) tests, emotional intelligence (EQ) training, and emotional intelligence (EQ) certification, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies.

I’m a New Mom… Now What?

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By Rachel Jones

When I walked into my house for the first time with my new bundle, I felt like I was stepping into someone else’s world. My husband set down the car seat carrying our new son and I looked around the room wondering what I should do. For the next few minutes I wandered from the living room, to the kitchen, to my bedroom, and back. Should I watch some TV? Do some laundry? Eat something? Take a nap? Where should the baby go? In his crib? The swing? Should I hold him? Feed him? I honestly don’t know what I did for the rest of that day, and the rest of that week is pretty much a blur as well. I do remember thinking that my life was never going to be the same!

Now, I am a seasoned mom to a six month old, jolly little boy. Seasoned…..right. I probably wouldn’t use that word to describe myself just yet, but I do feel like I know so much more than I did the day we brought our little guy home. I think back to the first few weeks at home and realize that I had to learn how to be a mom just like everyone else does—by being a mom. Most of what you read/hear/study before the birth of your child goes right out the window when you actually bring the child home. There is no way anyone can prepare you for everything it takes to care for a new baby. So, what I am about to say might not stick until you bring your little one home, but remember these two pieces of advice.

First, you need to take care of yourself! This is not your first instinct as a new mom. You want to focus all of your energy on that new little one, but to do that to the best of your ability; you need to be taken care of first. So, if someone offers you any kind of ‘help,’ be it bringing you a meal, watching your little one while you nap, or even staying with you for a few days, take them up on their offer! And if no one offers, ask for help. When I am tired, I have a much shorter fuse with my son and husband; I am just not myself. Having a child made me realize the value of a nap. Six months into motherhood, I still try to fit a nap in here and there.

I also recommend finding a group of likeminded women. Today, the internet allows us to connect in ways that our grandmothers never thought possible. Meetup.com is a great website that allows you to search for social groups according to your location. There are also local moms clubs and church groups that can all be found through searches online. When I became pregnant with Eli, my friend Maggie and I decided to start writing about our experiences as moms. We started Peach State Moms Blog as a way to give local moms a place to ‘meet’ online, and then meet in real life. We now have six local mammas contributing to our blog regularly. We are hosting monthly playgroups and coming soon—Mamma’s Night Out! Time spent with other women who know what I am going through has been important in helping me make a (mostly) smooth transition into motherhood.

Six months ago, I went through the biggest change of my life. I walked into my house and had to figure out how to navigate this world while taking care of a new life. Every day has its challenges, but with the support of a great group of local moms and my family, and by taking some “me time,” I know I can tackle this journey of motherhood, and you can too!

 

 

New Mom Resources

Websites:
www.babycenter.com – Joining a birth club connects you to moms who have children the same age as yours.
http://www.askdrsears.com – Info about nutrition, vaccinations, parenting, and more
https://lllofga.org – Georgia’s La Leche League website.
http://kellymom.com – Great breastfeeding resource

Books:
Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic
Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff