Ask the Expert

The best thing you can do for your child? Take care of you

by Julie Burton As a veteran mom of four children, I wrote The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother’s Must-Have Guide to Health and Well-Being not because I instinctively knew how totake good care of myself while caring for my four children. No, that is far from the case. I could barely take a shower during the years when I juggled young children, apart-time job, a husband who traveled almost every week, and all the other responsibilities on my plate. 

I did not thrive during those early years.

Most days I felt like I was gasping for breath as the unrelenting pressures to serve those who needed me continued to grow, and I was losing my ability to “rise to the occasion.” Not only did I not thrive during those years, I fell flat on my face. I wrote in an effort to pull myself back up—to come to peace with the fact that I struggled on a cellular level to figure out how to give my family and work the energy they deserved without losing my sense of self. 

And when I started asking other moms, through online surveys, e-mails, and interviews, nearly 400 moms told me that I wasn’t alone in my conundrum.

As a mom who has battled relentless feelings of guilt and self-doubt, writing on this topic was a way for me to give other mothers something that I wish someone had given me (or that I had given myself)— A permission slip, a message of hope, and a call to action for every mother, wherever she is in her motherhood journey, to stake her self-care claim. Yes, as a mother you are committed to caring for your children for the rest of your life. But—and this is a big but—contrary to many mothers’ instincts, mine included, motherhood does not mean always putting your children’s, or anyone else’s, needs before your own. The first two years of motherhood are especially challenging with sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, shifts in your romantic relationship, and the feeling of being perpetually needed by your child. 

Establishing routine self-care practices during these transitional years is pivotal. This is the time when you need to stay connected with what you need for yourself and try your best to honor those needs.

Meeting your own needs will allow you to be the mother, partner, professional, and friend that you aspire to be. It is also time to realize that you won’t be able to be your best self in every area of your life all the time—and this doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough. You most certainly are, mama. If I could go back and talk to myself when I was a young, stressed-out mom, what’s the one thing I would say to myself above all else? Treat yourself with love, respect, and compassion. In other words, be nice to yourself! Eat well. Move your body. Hug and kiss your husband. Find gratitude. Seek out joy and laughter. Find time to engage in pursuits you love. Nurture your creative spirit. Allow yourself to just say no sometimes. Ask for help—and then ask for more. Oh yeah, and sleep. I wish you the best on your journey through motherhood and in all of your efforts to stay connected with the woman you have always been. If you can do that, you will truly thrive as a multi-faceted mama.       Julie Burton  Julie Burton is an experienced writer specializing in self-care, parenting, and relationships. She earned her master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, is the former editor of Momtalk magazine, and has written for many local and national websites and publications. She blogs at juliebburton.com, is the co-founder of the Twin Cities Writing Studio, and teaches writing and wellness workshops. Julie lives in Minnetonka, MN, with her husband and four children. You can find Julie’s book, The Self-Care Solution, on Amazon http://amzn.to/2qwjduK . It makes a great Mother’s Day gift!   For regular self-care tips and inspiration, follow Julie on her website, Facebook, orTwitter.

April 2017 Ask the Expert

My Favorite Part of Fatherhood:  MY DRIVE: Ed Tuscano

When I was asked if I wanted to write an article for the Santa Rosa Mothers’ Club on my favorite part of fatherhood, I was a bit reluctant. I’m not a writer by any means but when I heard the theme was Resolution Revival something just clicked. I have recently “revived” my own resolution to kick my butt back in shape so this all made sense. My wife and I had a beautiful baby girl a little over a year ago and it's so easy to let exercise fall to the wayside when your wife is pregnant and then having a small child, but I also have an older son and he has been my driving force to get back in fighting shape. We hear all too often “my kids are all the drive that I need,” but I can honestly say I absolutely love working out with my son!

For starters, he was born almost three months early and was only 1 pound 14 ounces. His mom was diagnosed with eclampsia and the first three months of his life were an everyday struggle for him. He had many complications, everything from underdeveloped lungs to a heart murmur. He fought through every obstacle life threw at him and overcame them all. He is still that way and making sure I am as well.

My little stud is almost ten years old now, and is healthy as can be. He is very active and loves to work out with me. I am always looking for ways to show him the importance of living a healthy lifestyle whether it is “clean” eating, exercising or just simply taking care of our body. For example, he is going into his second year of baseball and is well aware that if he wants to become stronger and faster, he is going to have to work for it - meaning practice. This is where the fun begins for me since who does he need to practice with? His dad! I’m the guy who is lucky enough to run drills with this spectacular fighter.

Working out with my son not only allows me to get my workout in, but it also gives me a chance to create a fun yet challenging exercise for the both of us to do together. With our busy and hectic schedules we do not always make it to the gym, but that is when I pull out the deck of poker cards and have some fun. My son gets to pick out two of his favorite exercises and I pick out two. We shuffle the cards up well and do the face value on the card we flip over. We then race against time to see how long it takes us to beat the deck! This is a super simple trick I use to get in my exercise because it really feels like “playing”. Sometimes his favorite exercise is tag and that’s always a fun one.

One of my goals of being a father is not only teaching but also showing my kids how to live a healthy active lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely days when I am absolutely fried and don’t want to do anything but shower and go to sleep but then I pick up my little stud from school and the first thing he asks his, “Dad are we going to the gym tonight?” And just like that, the little devil that was on my shoulder trying to tell me to lay it down gets a front kick to his chest from a handsome almost ten year old and I always reply with a smirk, “You know we can’t have it any other way little man. Let’s go get our sweat on!!”

There are many parts of fatherhood that I love but I have to say “playing” with my kids is my favorite.

SRMC MAGAZINE APRIL 2016