emotional

Pregnancy and Public Transit

by Samantha on June 14, 2015

What has happened to kindness and common courtesy?


Pregnant belly

She was about 8 or 9 months pregnant, belly hanging low, baby about to drop any day. The previous months had clearly taken a toll on her, as her face showed the exhaustion and fatigue required to make a human being. She was physically spent, yet there she stood.

Yes, she was standing. Standing on the 505 streetcar in downtown Toronto, as it abruptly stopped and started in morning rush hour traffic. Had she slept the night before? Unlikely, as anyone who has experienced the final months of pregnancy knows: a good night’s sleep is an ephemeral and fleeting fantasy.

Yet there she stood, while all around her, young, fit and otherwise preoccupied citizens pretended not to see her by burying their heads in their smartphones of choice.

A 20-something man in a crisp suit, clearly headed to his job in the financial sector pretended to sleep, as his eyes closed immediately after viewing the pregnant woman’s swollen belly.

A middle-aged woman played candy crush saga with an intensity and fervour that many of us thought only belonged to a younger generation of gamers, her eyes glued to her retina display screen.

Three teenage girls in private school uniforms giggled amongst themselves, giving nary an eye to the belly that not only protruded into the aisle in front of them, but turgidly languished on the very edges of their personal space. You see, her belly - had it been acknowledged - would have broken up the party, and that wouldn’t have been cool. The latest gossip about that cute guy in class and recap of last night’s TV show was much more important.

This had not been the first time that I had seen such appalling behaviour. Sadly, purposely, ignoring pregnant women while riding public transit has become the norm, not the exception. What has happened to humanity?

I’ve posted many rants and complaints about this on my personal Facebook page and talked to many friends who are mothers themselves. All of them have a similar story to recount about how they have been ignored  while pregnant and riding public transit.

A personal anecdote: during my last and final pregnancy with my twin boys, I could barely walk. I was considered “high-risk” for a few medical reasons which relegated me to bed-rest for most of my pregnancy. On those off days before I was completely immobile, somewhere between my seventh and eighth month of gestation, I needed to use the public transit to get to my doctor’s appointments. Now, let me say that having my third pregnancy and twins, no less, made me huge, much earlier than I would have been, had I been on my first pregnancy. In other words, there was no doubt that I was indeed pregnant.

Yet there I stood.

Their eyes averted, I was ignored, invisible and silently defeated as I struggled to balance so many times on the streetcar, hoping that some kindly person would give me a seat. My elephant-sized ankles continued to swell, my feet ached and my back painfully swayed with each lurch and jolt of the streetcar. Everything hurt, including my feelings.

As the mother of four, and one who has experienced three different pregnancies, I’m sad to say that this experience wasn’t atypical. Sadly, it was the norm, not the exception. And every single woman that I know who has been pregnant has experienced the same. What on earth is going on?

While I don’t profess to have all of the answers, I do believe that our culture of entitlement is a huge factor in this cultural shift. Once upon a time, there was chivalry, then socially accepted norms that included women, about “doing the right thing.” Helping someone who was clearly in need was the norm, not the exception. With the increasing sense of entitlement, exemplified by the “Me Generation” and continuing onward, those in need haven’t had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a fair shake. Whether they’re seniors who are unstable on their feet, the disabled or the aforementioned pregnant woman just looking for a kind soul who will let her have a well-needed seat, the chances of these folks receiving this small kindness grows smaller every day. The lack of focus on others, supported by the technological tools to “zone out” or feign ignorance wherever and whenever possible makes this willful blindness not only possible but probable as well.

Yet, in spite of this trend towards selfishness, I do believe that change is possible. The change starts now with all of us who are raising children with the values that support kindness and compassion. And while we make efforts to effect our childrens’ behaviours in future there are some adults who are in need of an etiquette refresher now.

I am starting a one-woman public awareness campaign as I feel that it needs to be done. As someone who has endured a very difficult twin pregnancy and was on the verge of begging someone to please give me a seat, the time for greater awareness for this reality is long overdue. Clearly, the assumption that everyone riding on the bus/subway/streetcar/[insert transportation mode here] understands that pregnant women should be given a seat is completely wrong. My assumptions - based on the teachings of my parents (thank-you, Mom and Dad) underscored the importance of kindness, but more specifically the need for those of us who are more able, to extend said kindness - and where appropriate, a seat - to those in need. This includes the elderly, the disabled and, of course, pregnant women.

Whenever and wherever you can, please remind those riding the public transit who seem to have forgotten basic courtesy that pregnancy is challenging, difficult and just plain exhausting. If a pregnant woman is standing while able-bodied people are pretending not to see her, be her advocate and ask them to give her a seat. I’ve done it before and have never been told “no,” probably because the shock of being called on their bad behaviour mixed with their embarrassment makes the culprits stand up quicker than one would imagine.

Perhaps making the subject one that is no longer ignored, one where pregnant women don’t have to suffer in silence, will put an end to it once and for all. If anything, making those who are oblivious more aware of their choices and how these choices affect others will affect change, hopefully for the better.

I’ll be tweeting and sharing the hashtag #StandUpForMom and #giveupyourseat on my social media channels to keep the topic top of mind and hope you’re able to share it as well.

Let’s do this.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here.

VIDEO: Stand Up For Mom!


What has been your experience with pregnancy and public transit? Tell me about it in the comments section below.

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Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!

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How to help your child get through the loss of a beloved companion

Boy and turtle

There comes a time when most parents must deal with the inevitable - the death of a beloved family pet. This occurrence is even more painful when the pet is the particular companion of a young child. Your son or daughter likely grew very attached to its turtle, gerbil, cat or dog and now the beloved pet is gone - a harsh reality for a young mind.

When this very real part of childhood occurs, it’s best to be prepared, so that you as the parent are able to calm and comfort your child while they go through the grieving process. While this is a difficult time, it is possible to get through it with your son or daughter understanding and accepting this very real part of life.

Following are five tips for parents on how to help their child manage the death of a pet.

When Your Child’s Pet Dies - Top 5 Tips For Parents

1) Acknowledge the Loss - It hurts. The death of a child’s pet is a painful experience and is one that often comes as a shock to those unaccustomed to the reality of death. As this is likely the first instance in his or her experience of losing something he/she loves, the reality of what has occurred will hit hard. For a child that has lost its animal companion, it can be all-consuming as well as confusing. Recognizing and acknowledging the pain that your son or daughter is experiencing, and providing comfort while they grieve is one of the first steps towards helping your child through this difficult time. Being there and recognizing your child’s feelings will help them get through it.

2) Leave Time For Grief - Just as with people, pets can’t be replaced. Sure, you can get a new dog, cat or gerbil, but a new animal can never take the place of the one that’s died. For this reason, it’s important to take some time for your child to grieve and reflect on the loss of the pet. While the impulse may be there to soothe your child’s pain, don’t jump in and get another pet right away. Kids need to be allowed to mourn the loss of their pet and realize that while their companion can’t be exactly replaced, a new pet can still bring joy - in time.

3) Give it a Proper Send-Off -  The rituals attached to death shouldn’t end with humans. Ceremonies are important, even if they’re small. Whether it’s a fish, a hamster or a larger pet, giving it a proper goodbye will allow your child to understand that the ritual involved is all part of the process and can often help with healing.

4) Talk Honestly About Death - While it’s a difficult time for your child, the death of a beloved companion can also provide parents with the opportunity to talk about the reality that all living things eventually die. Teaching a child that this sad occurrence is a normal part of life may be hard, but it’s an experience that we all have to deal with at some time in our lives. The loss of a pet can open the door to a difficult topic of discussion but one that is needed and necessary. Answering questions about death can give your child a greater understanding about this reality as well as an opportunity to calm his or her fears.

5) Create Memories With Child - “Gone but not forgotten.” While death is a difficult lesson to learn, children can also be taught that the loss of a loved one - pet or otherwise -  doesn’t mean that the loved one will be forgotten. Memories live on, an important lesson to teach your child in the face of their loss. Help them honour their beloved pet by putting together a scrapbook, photo album, or other memento that represents a permanent tribute to their companion.

How have you dealt with the death of a family pet? What additional tips would you provide to parents who are going through this with their children? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Back to Work After Baby - Top 8 Tips For Moms

by Samantha on January 4, 2015

Simple but proven tips for a stress-free return to the workplace





baby mom

The time has come.

You’ve spent precious moments with your bundle of joy but like many situations in life, this, too, must come to an end.

Work beckons.

And as much as you’d like to stay at home just a little while longer, there are bills to pay and mouths to feed.

A return to work after having a baby can be one of the most stressful and emotional times for moms. After carrying your child for nine months, giving birth then being so closely attached to your baby during this special period, the thought of leaving him or her can cause feelings of both sadness and stress. As well, many moms feel guilty about having to make this decision, which often doesn’t make things easier.

Before going back to the outside workforce, you likely have a number of questions swirling through your mind, often with no clear answers. Some of these likely include:

- Who’s going to take care of the baby while I’m at work?

- How much is childcare going to cost?

- Is my baby going to be okay in the care of someone other than me?

 - How am I going to balance work, home and family responsibilities?

All of these questions are valid and normal, as well as important to be answered for both the parent and the child’s well-being.

Rest assured that you will be fine, and so will your child.

That being said,there are a few things to keep in mind and to have in place before you re-enter the workplace. Follow these simple tips and you and your little one will be ready for your return to work:

Back to Work After Baby - Top 8 Tips For Moms

1) Eliminate Guilty Feelings - Before anything, remember: you are doing this in the best interest of your baby and your family. While it’s natural to feel guilty, keep in mind that your return to work is going to allow you to provide your baby with the things that he or she needs, as well as to bring in needed finances to your household. While it may be difficult at first and you may feel guilt as well as a fear of separation anxiety, know that your actions are what’s best for your family, and will ultimately make a positive difference in the quality of life for all of you.

2) Decide on Breast or Bottle - Regardless of your choice, make provisions for how your child will be fed while you’re away. If you’re going to continue breastfeeding, make sure that you’ve made provisions accordingly. This may include either freezing your milk and/or making sure that you have a place to pump when you return to work, as well as a supportive work environment and employer who will accommodate your choice. If you’re going to choose formula, make sure to test the options so that you’re feeling comfortable with the right choice that your baby will drink when you’re at work. You may also want to consider a combination of both, so investigate your options to assure that everything’s in place when you go back to work.

3) Don’t Try To Do Everything - There are only 24 hours in a day and you’re now going to be working outside the home. For these reasons, make a realistic schedule about what you can and can’t get done, and stick to it. Part of your personal sanity will be directly related to knowing that you’ve done everything you can, and everything else will have to wait. You’re doing what needs to be done for your family - working and taking care of your child - and that’s enough.

4) Get Supports in Place At Home - Whether it’s from your partner, friends, neighbours or relatives, knowing that you’ve got things covered off at home will provide you with a huge feeling of relief as you return to the workforce. Help could range anywhere from childcare arrangements for your baby (see below for more details) to more specific help with cooking, cleaning and other household chores. The goal is to make things as stress-free as possible for you as you return to work so take help wherever you can.

5) Line Up Childcare Arrangements - Depending on where you live, childcare can be one of the biggest decisions to make, both from a financial and emotional point of view. In many urban centres, you may need to have lined up childcare for your baby as soon as you became pregnant; in others, there is more flexibility in terms timing and the choice of caregiver. In both instances, it’s important that you (and your partner) are comfortable with the final decision so that when you leave for work, you are also confident that you’re leaving your precious baby in competent and loving hands. Take the time to thoroughly research and check out your options before making this important decision. As well, do a “dry run” with your care provider a few weeks leading up to your return so that your baby, your caregiver and you are comfortable about leaving your child in care as you return to work.

6) Lower Your Expectations - There are only 24 hours in a day and you’ll be working through many of them. For this reason, it’s important to be realistic about what can conceivably achieved during the work week and the weekends as well. Now that you’re back at work, the house may not be as spic and span as you may like, and laundry may remain unfolded for a time. This is okay. There’s only so much you can do. If you’re able to, engage your partner to help out more, or, if finances allow, hire someone to assist with cleaning and other household chores. If this is not possible, lower your expectations of what can realistically be done in the home and focus on the fact that you’re doing the most important thing - taking care of your family by returning to work.

7) Be Clear on Work Responsibilities - This includes hours of employment, flexibility in scheduling if possible, and day-to-day duties. Ideally, it’s best to speak to your boss or supervisor before you set foot in the office or workplace so that you both have a clear understanding and agreement about what is expected when you return. When you’re both on the same page, things will run more smoothly and there will be no surprises - which are the last thing you need now that you’re back at work.

8) Get an Ally or Good Friend at Work - The return to work will be made less stressful if you know that there’s someone there that you can count on for support and a friendly ear. Ideally, it would be someone who can understand and empathize with the demands of being a working parent and in an ideal scenario, it may even be your boss. Either way, knowing that you have someone in the workplace that you can speak to about your transition back to work and its inherent challenges can make a world of difference to your state of mind.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here:

Eight Tips For Moms Going Back to Work Post Baby

Have you recently returned to work after maternity leave? What strategies and tips would you recommend for coping during this transitional time? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

VIDEO: New Mom Tips

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VIDEO: Coping Tips For New Moms

by Samantha on November 8, 2014

Simple advice on new baby care


baby feet

Having a new baby can be a shock. From diapers to spit-up, not to mention the lack of sleep, there are so many things that to consider.

The good news is that there are some simple things that can be done to make the transition to parenting easier.

I wrote about some of these tips here:

New Baby Care - Top 10 Helpful Tips For New Moms

You can also view the Downright Domestic segment on this topic where I provide advice here:

VIDEO: New Mom Tips

Do you have some advice about how to make the transition to parenting easier? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!

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Top 5 Tips to Help You Send Your Child Off to School For the First Time

first day of school

For parents whose kids are entering Kindergarten for the first time, the stakes are high. Not necessarily for the child but oftentimes more so for the parents. Having been home with their son or daughter for a number of years makes the prospect of sending them off to school particularly anxiety-inducing. Though their kids may have gone to selected preschool classes, play groups or similar social situations, Kindergarten signifies “the big leagues.”

For first-time parents, there is often anxiety, fear and stress felt by the prospect being away from their child and relinquishing responsibility to someone other than themselves. The unknown - in this case a classroom, other kids and a new teacher - can feel particularly daunting.

I’ve written about the first day of school before from the perspective of the child but realize that oftentimes, it’s the parents who need some support and encouragement. Below are some simple tips for those who are facing the prospect of sending their child or children off to school for the first time.

Sending Your Child to School For the First Time - Top 5 Tips For Parents

1) Your Kids Will Be Fine - Kids are a lot more resilient than we think. Surprisingly, they often step up to the challenge and thrive when they’re beyond the protective gaze of their parents. Have faith in both your child and the teachers who understand the anxiety felt by both parents and children. They’ve been there before, and know how to support your child in feeling comfortable, safe and ultimately excited about being in school. By the end of the day, they’ll have stories to tell, artwork to show you and introductions to their new friends (to you!) to make.

2) Tears Are Normal - Yes, they may flow at the prospect of leaving you. Take that as a given. Also realize that the tears will stop as soon as your child enters the classroom and sees the whole new world that is opened up to them at school. Art, reading, writing and toys await and you will be but a distant memory (in a good way of course) while your child ventures into the (relatively) grown-up world of Kindergarten.

3) A Blankie or Teddy Goes a Long Way - Yes, you’ve been your child’s security blanket for so long but when they start school, they’ll need something to keep them going during the day. Don’t underestimate the importance of your child having their favourite special item, whether it’s a blanket, sleep toy or doll. Having such an item with them during their first venture into the school environment will make their day so much easier.

4) Independence is a Good Thing - This is a first step for your child towards independence. And while it may be a difficult one for both of you, it’s an important and positive milestone in their life. Being able to separate from their parents is key to gaining a strong sense of ability as well as self-confidence. And as much as it may be difficult to push them out of the proverbial nest, it’s ultimately in their best interest. Today, Kindergarten, tomorrow - the world!

5) Get Educated - Fear of the unknown often adds to our stress and anxiety and sending our kids off into “The Great Unknown” - in this case, school - is no different. Assuage your fears about the first day of school through your own education of what will occur. Just as your child will be learning in the classroom, you too can learn everything you need to know about your child’s curriculum before they begin the formal learning process. Where possible, contact the school, meet and/or speak with your child’s new teacher(s) and familiarize yourself with the class schedule. You’l feel better and more confident about your child’s new adventure once you have all of your questions answered.

Are you feeling stressed about sending your child to school for the first time? Or, do you have any additional tips that can make the transition smoother? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

 Image courtesy of www.chfi.com

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New Baby Care - Top 10 Helpful Tips For New Moms

January 26, 2014

For many of us who have been in the parenting world for a while, it’s tough to remember those days when you were counting down to when your new arrival would enter the world. For new moms-to-be, the stress of having everything “just so,” and being prepared is considerable. Just the thought of having a […]

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My Imaginary Friend

January 15, 2014

When I was a little girl, I had an imaginary friend. It’s name was “Haldico.” I say “it” because Haldico was neither a “he” or a “she.” And I was fine with that. A strange name for an imaginary friend, I realize this now, but it all seemed so normal at the time. As a […]

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The 5 Secrets of Successful Parenting

January 6, 2014

Everyone wants to know the secrets of successful parenting. The role of “Mom” or “Dad” doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Instead, those who are in the trenches are left to their own devices, often to flounder and find their footing as they travel along the parenting road, wondering if they’re doing it right. For […]

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The Top 5 Life Lessons Learned From Nelson Mandela

January 1, 2014

In 2013 we lost Nelson Mandela. A role model, a teacher and an undying supporter of human rights and equality, he was cherished by so many around the world. Regardless of their race, colour or religious affiliation, he united us through not only his words, but his actions and treatment of others. He taught us […]

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CBC RADIO INTERVIEW: Back to School Stress

September 10, 2013

The lazy,  hazy days of summer have passed and the kids have returned to school. It may be “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for parents but for kids, this is not necessarily the case. More often than not, back to school signals the beginning of a very stressful time. Regardless of age or […]

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