Archive for the 'Mental Fitness' Category

First time Mom’s network in Seattle. What is your Favorite?

Seattle hosts numerous new-parent support networks. See my favorites listed below. How do you connect with other new parents? Share your favorites with others beginning a new adventure– parenting.

Little piggys in the house -- help is on the way. Explore parenting networks

Little piggys in the house -- help is on the way. Join a parenting network!

I might occasionally feel overwhelmed with motherhood, but today is no comparison to when I struggled with those first months of motherhood. On Ellie’s first day of life Tim and I each learned to change a diaper. That’s how ignorant we were.

After my smooth pregnancy, I was taken off guard by how little I could achieve and how my schedule and autonomy disappeared overnight. Even completing simple, mindless tasks like washing dishes seemed a momentous feat. Our first self supportive move was the installation of a dishwasher. Remaining was the problem of emptying it.

Balancing a professional life with being a mom has it’s own special challenges. I found camaraderie and tips from numerous resources listed below.

To the rescue…
PEPS (Program for Parenting Support)
Directly from the website is this description: Since 1983, PEPS has helped new parents to connect and grow. Parents come together each week to share the joys and challenges of parenthood and develop confidence in their own parenting abilities. For many parents, their PEPS Group becomes part of their extended family, a supportive community that lasts a lifetime.
Tim and I still swap babysitting and enjoy an annual camping adventure with our PEPS group. We’ve done this for 6 years and counting. The babies were all born within 2.5 months of each other.

Janet Klinger_ Sisters snuggle a newborn baby brother

A happy parent creates a happy family. Take care of yourself for your kids sake.

First Weeks with Ann Keppler, RN, MN and co-author of Pregnancy, Childbirth, & the Newborn.
Ann is fabulous beyond words. A gentle, generous, intuitive soul, Ann clearly cares for each and every new parent who enters the door. No problem was too small, weird or embarrassing. Ann is brilliantly insightful. She recognizes the worth of one parent sharing with or keenly listening to the experience of another new parent. The class was invaluable for showing me I wasn’t alone. Many of us felt overwhelmed. We shared in discussions regarding reflux, yeast infections, setting limits with grandparents, pet attacks, lack of sleep, soothing a colic baby, sharing resources regarding every medical condition, temperament, and sharing referrals for every service known to parent-kind. At the time I didn’t think I needed any help, just community. I found both. Having a glimpse of the outside world would be reason enough to commit myself to the weekly gatherings. First Weeks was THE most supportive of all my resources.

Neighborhood mother groups are invaluable for parenting discussions from where to find certain supplies or toys to home maintenance referrals. I personally use and love Greenlake Moms and Ballard Moms. I have also listed several other area moms and parents groups. Note some require an email first which selecting the link will indicate.

Seattle Neighborhood Communities for Mothers
Greenlake Moms
Ballard Moms
Belltown Babies
Madrona Moms
Lake Forest Moms
NE Seattle Moms : for Laurelhurst, Bryant, View Ridge, Windermere, Wedgewood, Sandpoint, Ravenna and UDistrict.
Montlake Moms
Mount Baker Parents
Queen Anne Moms
City-wide Communities for Mothers
Seattle Single Moms
Moxie Moms, a fitness and support group.

Janet Klinger _ father and son show love playing piggyback

The joy of daddy and son being silly

Seattle parenting groups to support both Moms and Dads
Capital Hill Parenting
Magnolia Moms and Dads
Seattle Families of Multiples Families with twins and all multiples.
Seattle Chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders

Seattle Single Parents Meet-up Group

Eastside Communities for Mothers
Mothers and More
Eastside Mothers of Multiples
Kirkland Moms
Eastside Attachment Parenting

Rekindling the Adventurous Spirit

Where oh where did those days of traveling to Ecuador or cross country skiing in Yellowstone Park go? In these hectic days of parenthood, I both relish being energetic Ellie’s Mom, and resent the daily responsibilities I’m now faced with– and disappointed in myself for falling down on the job. Right now our fridge interior is barren except for the 5 day old Brazilian black bean soup, last weekends now-cardboard pancakes, and last night’s quinoa pasta leftovers.

Truth be told, the grueling challenge of a “responsible” life goes further back than Ellie. After a scary misdiagnosis with Lupus, I cut back working all waking hours of the day that I wasn’t playing. Until that doctor’s appointment, I felt balanced. Yet the 2 week wait for test results had me reevaluating balance. As my 30’s set in, so did my desire to find that special life-long snuggle guy. Running full boar all waking hours left little time for romance. Scared by the unknown, I felt I would have to give up my full-of-play ways. Sure enough, when I fell in love, I was drawn to the responsible, tenderly adorable, creative, orderly architect, Tim Rohleder. While I thought we had a perfect match, however close, nothing is perfect. Here is a man who puts family first, just as I always dreamed. Tim works hard, loves his clients, bikes to work, takes an equal responsibility for household chores. What more could I want? The answer points to me, not Tim. Janet’s Agenda: supermom, superwife, superphotographer, superathlete, superfriend, supersmart, but subtract “super” and you have a clear idea of how I feel. Not bad, not great. Where is life’s adventure and spontaneity I fell in love with so long ago?

Happily we are able to take 2 annual trips to visit each Tim’s family and my family. Then there’s work related travel. It’s no secret that I relish these work excursions hinting of my old travel ways. Grateful for these work/travel opportunities, today my challenge is to revive self-inspired excursions rather than passively accept them only when clients request. And to somehow get Tim and Ellie to join in the fun.

Modeling an adventuresome yet balanced life to Ellie would be a gift to her, to myself, and to our family team. Onward I struggle for this precarious balance, unwilling to accept my vision only as a dream.

With tickets now booked to Anchorage (June1-7), I’m off to the grocery store… Balance is achieved one day at a time.

A carefree day in Yellowstone Park:
A carefree day in Yellowstone Park

A boy in Ecuador:
A moment in Ecuador

Atacames, Ecuador

Hurry Up and Relax. No friends necessary at Olympus Spa

In the ever-present struggle to regain balance between personal and professional life, life as momma to Ellie and wife to Tim, Thursday night has been carved out as “MY” night. Granted one Thursday each month I’m at an informative PUG meeting, or an educational Woodland Park 3-5s co-op meeting, or occasionally an inspiring Soulumination meeting. Still, 1 to 3 nights each month are for doing as I please. This tiny freedom rejuvenates.

I usually spend that time with friends, so much do I miss being social. Now it’s easiest to build friendships with other working moms who are also motivated to go around Greenlake at 8:30 in the pitch blackness.

But last Thursday, oh my! I had forgotten the sheer pleasure of nestling into the warm sands of Olympus Spa. Blissful, rare relaxation overcomes me as I bake in the mud & jade room, then cool down to warm in the charcoal room. I don’t know the exact purpose of these “earth energy” rooms. Who cares about energy anyway. Give me it’s antithesis!

Then into the mugwort steamroom. Yuck. Slimy on the butt! Might that be why they gave me an extra tiny towel? With towel in place, mind off the slime, my pores couldn’t be happier, my breathing easier. To cool off, into the freezing waterfall pool. Gasp! Then into the hottest of the pools to soak before I have a 50 minute Korean body scrub.

jaderoom.jpg large_6330951295437405930794.jpg waterfall.jpg

1) Mud & Jade room 2) Relaxation lounge with foot message 3) Waterfall pool surrounded by 3 other warm to hot pools.

Why work if you can’t splurge now and then? Use of the spa for a day is $35 in Lynnwood, $30 in Tacoma. The bodyscrub is $65/60 Lynnwood/Tacoma. I’m so happy Tim and I figured out a way to have some time for each of us. I’m ready for another week.

Baby Sweat + Daddy and Mommy Sweat = Puddle of Agressive then Tender Love

Ellie has asthma: diagnosed by desparate attempts to barely inhale air into lungs. Horrified parents “help” while petrifying a previously trusting girl.

In the ER at Children’s Hospital we initially had no idea what was going on. The nurse gave us the face mask to put over Ellie’s nose and mouth and left us alone in the room. Elle struggled with all her might to free herself, pleading with us to help, yet confused that we were the ones forcefully holding her down pushing a scary mask over her mouth and nose. Sweat dripped off all of us. Especially off Tim who was relegated to straight jacket duty. I was in tears sympathizing with Ellie’s fear, confusion and her use of the signs we had been teaching her: STOP! I imagined we were forcing her to inhale something that was painful, or worse, harmful. Without thinking, I donned the mask for a few minutes to relieve my nervousness, and hopefully calm hers. With so many friends and family in the medical field, I’ve heard more than my fair share of “medical mistake” stories.

A fabulous book exists called It’s My Body. It teaches kids to trust their feelings. If uncomfortable, a child is given several ways to express herself. One of them is to put up her hand and, if using words yet, say firmly “Stop!” Together, all of us had been reading this helpful book for 3 or 4 days previous when this first asthma attack put us in the emergency room. That awful day my girl was not practicing her new skill, she was DEMANDING it in only the way I would hope she would, to no avail. Her face reflected devastation that her parents were the non-complying adults. Anguish ridden and feeling distraught, we vowed never again to let the nurse leave before telling us how to administer treatment, then to cope with this breech of trust. Unfortunately, after too many attacks, we’ve honed our skills. Fortunately, we now know more about preventing the attacks in the first place. I’m inhaling now, with great relief. While she has eczema (often the two go together), we haven’t seen asthma for about a year. Our bodies have relaxed, but thankfully not from sheer exhaustion.
I brought my camera because I imagined the worst. Having already had a sister and mother die prematurely, I didn’t want to be without precious images. Still, I didn’t even think of the camera until after the storm subsided.

Whoo Hoo. Date Night Tonight!!!

My sweet Hubby and I are going on a date tonight! Ah, the freedom. Thank you, PEPS. An amazing resource for new parents, PEPS matches families with kids born within months of each other. With similar child development concerns, we’ve learned to rely on each other for support– even now with our kids closing in on 3 years old, and most of us with a second child.
Together, we’ve taken weekend trips to Fort Worden, disco dancing (tomorrow night!), gone bowling, picnicking, snowshoeing and hiking. But mostly I’m grateful for the babysitting support we provide each other.

I don’t know about you, but I like having romance in my life. Thanks PEPS, for my date night tonight.

PEPS has a fun infant/toddler music CD too.


Overwhelmed New Parent is soothed by First Weeks

First Weeks was the best thing I did for myself and my family during those first new-baby months. I know how hard it is for new moms to get out of the house, especially with baby in tow. Still, Ann Keppler is the author of >Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn, and an amazing resource for those within driving distance of Seattle. Working from the Community Birth and Family Center, Ann is able to manage a room of new parents with crying infants and encourage insightful sharing between all of us. Supporting our parenting experiences and answering our many questions, Ann is an incredibly gifted speaker and host. If you somehow manage to get to First Weeks, you won’t be sorry. Even if you can’t manage it, drag yourself. Help is on the horizon.

Who thought the first weeks would be so difficult? I had no idea!