Mama Doc Philosophies

All Articles in the Category ‘Mama Doc Philosophies’

Inspiring Gratitude

Gratitude — appreciating the positive aspects of life — may not be an innate, spontaneous daily emotion to you or your children.  Rather, appreciating what we have is a skill we cultivate, practice, and maintain. There is research that shows gratitude is far more than just a touchy-feely pop-psych term. In fact, people who practice gratitude have less anxiety and depression, better sleep, decreased levels of stress, better outlooks on life and kinder behavior.  Sign me up!

Gratitude is the emotion of friendship   ~  Dr Michael McCollough told the New York Times in 2011

5 Tips For Inspiring Gratitude In Your Family

  • Make lists: Researchers describe making lists as the “classic” intervention to practice gratefulness. Making a list can be as simple as a weekly journal entry where you list that for which you’re thankful. It can be more intensive and involve daily writing and reviewing of lists, too. Regardless, the research shows that keeping these lists is easier than other interventions for improving mood, more likely to turn into a habit, and one that can improve your outlook, mood, and health. I’ve taken to jotting down things I’m thankful for on post-its and sticking them onto the bottom of my computer screen.
  • Plan a visit: Dr Martin Seligman, one of the founders of positive psychology, studies interventions that improve happiness. He suggests planning a gratitude visit. Here’s how: Read full post »

Tiny Little Kisses

I’ve had an enormously stressful week or so. Seriously maxed out in a way I haven’t been in some time — smooooshed if you will. The reason I mention my stress is that I’ve found in the past, like this week, these stressful episodes are often peppered with moments of mindfulness that penetrate into my life and stick. Little reminders of what matters most — they seem to bubble up inconveniently, often during these times, and then form exceptional meaning going forward. I’m certain you know what I mean—I think perhaps its the context or the heightened sense of acuity when trying to balance work and family during stress that brings us to our knees while also serving up reminders to consume life’s essence.

Thankfully there are buoys around us that get us through these stressful episodes. A joke our child makes while running by, a story on the radio that allows us to pause, the simple beauty of a red tree passing into sight on the side of the road. Sometimes when we’re most amped and stressed our lenses on life de-fog in a way where the beauty is just crystal clear.

What I’m talking about is my sudden sense of realizing how the tiny little kisses I give my boys at bedtime may be the most essential routine of my day. I’ve just written about bedtime routines and their importance for children’s health. But yesterday I realized how essential they are for their social emotional wellbeing, too.

Here’s why: Read full post »

Nothing Better

sleepNothing better than watching our children sleep peacefully. Independent of our circumstance there is nothing more settling, or prettier, than a child at peace. A day of happiness and good health or one where a child has battled pain or a fever, one filled with challenges at school or one where we’ve simply had a bad day at work. Doesn’t really matter what’s stirring or what’s not, there is something precious we all discover once we become parents–we can stare at our children endlessly while they rest. It can provide a sense of ease unmatched elsewhere in our lives.

Slipping back into the room to catch a glimpse of our children enjoying a peaceful rest is truly one of life’s greatest gifts.

Years ago an experienced father said to me, “Don’t let a single night go by where the last thing you do before heading off to bed isn’t kissing your kids goodnight one more time.” I took the advice. The ritual has perhaps compounded the obvious truth ~ nothing better than witnessing the beauty of our children at peace. Sleep is such a treasure.

The Lion Dad And Over-Enrolled Kids

photo[1]Someone mentioned recently that I was potentially a Tiger Mom. That’s when I realized we have a Lion Dad situation around here.

So many of us now “co-parent” our children. We share the responsibilities of raising children with our spouse or partner. Although co-parenting usually describes parents separated or divorced who take turns raising children, I think “co-parenting” describes many of us living together while raising children, too. In our home everything from feeding to toilet training, preschool pick-ups to soccer sign-up, and bathing to bedtime routines are divided and diced. The dance is typically elaborate and often it can be very messy. Sometimes it makes no sense how we split the tasks and of course sometimes we mess up– both forgetting something that needs to be done. I often feel like we’re always the last ones signing up for parent conference or preschool home visits–we just aren’t entirely always on top of our game! I know you know what I mean—so many of us divvy up the tasks necessary in raising children these days I’d suggest this co-parenting is just a part of modern parenting. A tango of sorts.

So it’s awkward at times that women, particularly those of us who work outside the home, are the key go-to or point person for outside institutions, families, and sports teams when someone tries to reach in and coordinate with us. I often feel the world is behind the times. Read full post »

Your Phone And Your Life

I love it when I forget my phone. Especially if I’m with the boys. But I admit it’s gotten more complicated for most of us to leave the phone at home. It’s harder and harder to function without our online resources and phone connection to those we love.

Watch the 2-minute video and read the 3 tips for making unplugging a weekly habit (below).

The Pew Research Center confirms that more than 9 out of 10 adults in the US have a cell phone. More than 1/2 of adults (56%) are now using a smartphone and rates for cell phone adoption start at earlier ages. Teens between 12 and 17 are rapidly acquiring cell phones of their own: more than 75% of teens have their own cell and 1/3 of teens have a smartphone in their pocket. We spend more time with our phones than our friends, it seems. Although sometimes we’re just looking at the bus schedule or our work email, The New York Times reported this summer that Facebook claims 40% of Americans are on Facebook every day. Every flipping day! So it’s not surprising perhaps that although I meant to take the month of August primarily offline I was mostly unsuccessful. It wasn’t until August 29th that I officially unplugged from all my inboxes and stayed off all apps and mail for 4 days. Read full post »

Savoring Versus Saving

dock calling me

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning, torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. That makes it hard to plan the day.

E.B. White

It’s an entirely challenging task getting to live this     just     one     life.

E.B. White summarizes the dilemma as well as I can imagine when he describes the tension between wanting to savor and wanting to save. For most of us who are raising children there is a constant tug-o-war in our minds/hearts as we decipher how best to live each day, especially when making choices about how we work. Nothing better than savoring the delight of our children, though, most all of us agree on that. Sure my boys fight and squabble, they ignore me when I ask them to put on their shoes, they leave their room a mess, and they forget to say, “please” in front of Grandma. But not a cell in my body denies this: my boys are simply miraculous. I constantly remain awestruck while in the midst of my family. And yes, just like those ahead of me warn, it does feel as if their childhood is coming at lightening speed.

So as the torrid waves of “work-life-balance” perpetuate, I’m unplugging for a few weeks just as I’ve done the last 2 years.  A true believer that digital-free time is essential,  I’ll use this post to ensure I check-out of the Internet for a bit. After sundown Friday I’ll be off Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn (maybe even Instagram), off the blog, and only sporadically into my email. I’ll still be at clinic and also on KING5 News. The rest of the time I’ll be with my family as we work to live mindfully, enjoy the end of summer, and prep for the onslaught of autumn.

Be well until September. In the meantime here’s some good reading:

The 7-Minute Workout

7-Minute Scientific Workout from The New York Times Magazine

7-Minute Scientific Workout from The New York Times Magazine

Exercise got thrown out the window for me in a routine way after my boys were born. It wasn’t a lack of interest, just a lack of organization of our time. Just now, as my boys get older and more independent, I’m integrating regular exercise back into my life. My experience with malignant melanoma this past year also was a big nudge. Seeing a glimpse of mortality does implore you to stay alive.

That’s why the 7-minute workout saves me. It’s the first no-excuse-not-to workout I’ve ever seen (I know others exist, they’re just not on my dashboard). The best part of discovering the 7-minute workout was the reality that in getting it done I didn’t need any equipment, any large chunk of time, or any childcare. On May 9th, The New York Times published an article that elevated the research article behind this workout and concept. Authors who created the workout hail the benefits of high-intensity-circuit-training (HICT). They say, “HICT is not a new concept, but it is growing in popularity because of its efficiency and practicality for a time-constrained society. The combination of aerobic and resistance training in a high-intensity, limited-rest design can deliver numerous health benefits in much less time than traditional programs. When body weight is used as resistance, it eliminates the limiting factors of access to equipment and facilities.”

This will likely be familiar: the day the article ran 5pm rolled around and I’d yet to exercise. The night was packed as we were headed to the school spring concert. The idea of a 10pm run wasn’t enticing. I’d just read about that 7-minute workout and the authors’ details of benefits including building whole body muscle groups, burning fat, and improving markers of health like insulin resistance. Felt like I had zero excuse.

Read full post »

Day In, Day Out

There happens to be whole, large parts of adult American life that no one talks about in commencement speeches.

It’s the season for commencement speeches. A season I love, I keep a post-it note on my own computer from Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement address. The post-it note is faded and bent, worn and tired. But there’s rarely a day I don’t see it. I see it right now…

Advice at the moment of transitions in our lives is helpful, but rarely sinks past the skin at the moment we hear it. Sometimes it’s upon reflection and maturation that we look back and realize how much we value wisdom we’ve heard. It’s as if advice has to brew. It’s just this past year or so that I’ve really embodied the concept of “Be a willow, not an oak.” That was the message delivered at my older brother’s high school graduation. Clearly it struck me then, enough to remember it, but the advice only got heart-deep this past year, some 20+ years after I first heard it.

This 9-minute snippet from David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College (my beloved Alma Mater) is worth your time. I’ve listened to it three times in three days. I suggest this will change not only your day, but your year. This is the type of parenting advice I love most: it’s marketed as life advice, college-graduate advice, or advice for the young. Yet all the while it’s actually perfect for we frenzied, over-worked, tired, callous-handed parents. The monotony, the hard labor of caring for young children is rarely glamorized and never snags enough attention to make it worthy of a speech. I think David Foster Wallace’s wisdom is profound and on-point.

Read full post »

Home Births: Polarizing Views

baby OLike so many controversial parenting topics, discussing home births brings out dynamic opinions. These controversial topics unfortunately often tear us apart from one another. This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a policy statement on home births that will hopefully help inform. In general, the policy statement identified data confirming it’s safer to have birth in a hospital, but outlined ways to decrease risks for moms and families, midwives, and doulas that want to partner with moms to have their babies at home, as safely as possible.

  • Home births only occur in about 1% of births here in the United States although interest in increasing. Distance from the hospital matters~ if it takes more than 20 minutes to get into a hospital from home, risk of complications including infant mortality are higher. Data shows that home births carry at 2-3 fold higher risk for infant death when compared to hospital births. 
  • The AAP states home births should only be considered if no maternal health problems, if it’s a term baby (after 37 weeks and before 41 weeks gestation), labor started at home spontaneously or as an outpatient, and it’s a single pregnancy that isn’t breech. Having had a previous C-section makes a home birth a no-no in their mind.
  • The AAP recommends having at least 2 people attending the birth with at least one person at the birth who’s sole job is to care for and tend to the baby after the birth. They outline that the baby’s caregiver needs to know how and why to resuscitate a newborn. The team caring for mom and baby need access to consultation with obstetricians and pediatricians and a well-planned way to access the hospital or medical team easily if needed.
  • The AAP says, “Every newborn infant deserves health care that adheres to the standards highlighted in this statement.” Care described includes warming the baby and initial transitions, glucose monitoring, infection monitoring, feeding assessment, jaundice checks, vitamin K shot, Hepatitis B shot, eye infection prevention, hearing screen, newborn blood screen, and follow-up care plans.

I believe we each have the right to make health care decisions that are best for our families. We also must have access to un-biased information on safety. Every single health decision we make is a process where we weigh risks against benefits. Home birth versus hospital birth is no exception.

My disclaimers: I had 2 hospital births which required all sorts of intervention and intensive care—2 C-sections, a bedside resuscitation for my newborn, and a short NICU stay for one of my sons. I would never have wanted to have a home birth after my training in pediatrics. That being said, there were aspects of the hospital care that really upset me. I didn’t have a birth plan, per se. I wanted this: a healthy baby and to survive the delivery without complication. I got both, thank goodness, but it wasn’t perfect. The beginning of motherhood was a challenge for me both times around and in part, I’ve always looked back feeling I should have been a stronger mom in the hospital… Read full post »

Work Trip Kiss

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 10.40.16 AM

Leaving our children for any reason makes our hearts hurt. Fortunately, the technology of our time provides incredible proximity. Tonight I got a kiss from my 4 year-old from 2000+ miles away while in a Google Hangout. Every parent has tricks that allows them to endure working trips or distance from their children created by time or space. FaceTime and Google Hangouts allow me to join books at bedtime and spontaneous conversations on the fly.  Ohhh, thank you 2013…