Category Archives: You

Does another mum need your help? It’s not always black and white…

Before I became a mum, I didn’t think I knew anyone who’d suffered from postnatal depression.

Now I see lots of people (mums and dads) who, whether they’ve had a diagnosis or not, seem to have one or more of the symptoms.

We’ve probably all experienced at least one of them at some stage, including;

  • Sleep disturbance unrelated to baby’s sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Crying – feeling sad and crying without apparent reason OR feeling like you want to cry but can’t
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed, out of control, unable to cope
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Negative obsessive thoughts
  • Fear of being alone OR withdrawing from family and friends
  • Memory difficulties and loss of concentration
  • Feeling guilty and inadequate
  • Loss of confidence and self-esteem

It’s not my place to diagnose anyone, but I do think being a mum increases your awareness of how tough the job can be.

Isn’t it odd that one of the most joyful experiences in life can be so damn difficult? It really is one of life’s great mysteries.

It’s post-natal depression awareness week, and the experts want us to know that it’s not always black and white.  Given most of us have bad days, there is a grey area where it’s hard to know whether you, or someone around you, need help.

PANDA (the Post and Ante Natal Depression Association) is the only specialist national organisation that raises community awareness of depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after birth (perinatal period); and provides support services to families to assist in their recovery.

Since having Miss Three, I have often wondered about friends and acquaintances who may be experiencing symptoms of postnatal depression.

I believe that too often we discount what mums are experiencing because ‘being a new mum is hard’ and ‘sleep deprivation is normal’.  Of course these are true, but they also make detecting and addressing depression a lot harder if you think whatever’s happening to you is normal.  If you’re also given the impression that everyone else has the same experience as you but seems to ‘cope’ better than you do, that makes seeking help a lot harder.

It’s tempting to barge right in and ask mums who are having a tough time how they feel and whether they need specific help, but sometimes the person isn’t a close friend so I’ve adopted a more subtle approach.  I often ask them how much help they have around them, and how they think they are coping.  Usually they know that something is wrong but they aren’t sure what it is, or what can be done about it.

I’ve suggested they mention how tough they’re finding it to an expert – and asked how they feel about talking to their GP or baby clinic.

Twice now, these people have made contact with me later to tell me that they did indeed mention it to an expert, who has referred them to services and they now seem much better, happier and more rested and are  enjoying motherhood significantly more.

I am very relieved, and couldn’t be happier for them.

Have you – or someone you know – ever  needed help?

Did you say something, or were you too worried?

Kirsten

If you are concerned that you are suffering from post natal depression, the  National Perinatal Depression Helpline 1300 726 306 which provides counseling and support to those living with depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after the birth of a baby. Operates 9-7pm Monday to Friday (EST)

Disclosure: PANDA invited me to a very lovely dinner in Sydney to discuss and learn about post-natal depression awareness week.   Thanks to them and the other bloggers for a lovely night out and all the great work they all do helping new mums.

There’s a lot of other good stuff from the blogosphere around on this at the moment.  Some great links are below.

Good Golly Miss Holly

Life On The Hill

Random Ramblings of a Stay At Home Mum

Denise Whelan.  Life’s Stories 

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Five ways working mums can take better care of their mental health

Guest post from Leilah Nelson.

Following the birth of my first child my greatest fear was suffering from depression. And being a psychologist I was always quick to self- diagnose!

My family and friends were my lifeline and since then I have never taken my mental health for granted and neither should you.  Yet statistics show that many of us might be ignoring the symptoms.

Of the two most common mental illnesses – depression and anxiety, women will experience them both in higher rates than men.

One in five women will experience depression while one in three will experience anxiety.

While genetics plays a part is determining your risk, others contributors include chronic health conditions, personality factors and stressful life events. Life events that can create major stressors are pregnancy, motherhood, menopause, and caring for elderly or unwell family members.

Women are at increased risk of experiencing depression during pregnancy and post child birth for up to a year. Nearly 10% of pregnant women will experience antenatal depression (during pregnancy) increasing to 16% experiencing postnatal depression in the 3 months post birth.

Working mums, while busy caring for others,  must be careful not to dismiss the signs and ignore the symptoms of mental health problems.

My tips for maintaining good emotional health while working and caring for your family:

  1. Cut your TO DO LIST in half. By reducing the daily tasks we expect ourselves to complete we can reduce our stress. Stress is a symptom of anxiety and depression. It can also be a catalyst for many physical related health problems. Remember your brain is an organ too and deserves care and attention.
  2. Maintain your SOCIAL NETWORKS, especially mothers group and playgroup. Consider the girls night out as sacred. Women, generally speaking, enjoy social communication, be it chatting with girlfriends or going to the movies or theatre. These exchanges allow us time to express our worries and fears and to reach out for support from the group.  Statistics show that you are less likely to suffer from depression if you have a strong social network to rely on.
  3. Prioritise YOUR TIME to do things that MAKE YOU HAPPY. Basically give yourself the permission and the freedom to do things you enjoy, FOR YOURSELF. Working mums are quick to prioritise the needs of their children, their partners, the housework, etc.  and often leave little or no time for themselves . Include regular EXERCISE into your routine. Maintaining exercise has been proven in reducing the affects of mental health.
  4. Take SHORTCUTS and don’t feel GUILTY about it. Often Mums feel pressure to be wife, chef, housemaid, cleaner, nanny, teacher, in short order. We can’t be all things but we can find more efficient ways of doing things (for me that involves employing a cleaner once a fortnight!) Finding a Work/Life BALANCE can help reduce our risk for mental illness.
  5. Don’t be AFRAID to SEEK HELP. GPs are becoming better trained at diagnosing mental health problems and quicker at referring to counselling services. Medicare will rebate up to 10 sessions with a counsellor if referred by your GP under the banner of mental health. Some employers have an employee assistance program (EAP) with free access to telephone or face-to-face counselling. A lot can be done to improve your mental health through life style changes but for some the answer is medical intervention. Simplified, anti-depressants assist with bringing a chemical balance back to the brain which then allows for counselling to be affective.

For further information on mental health, I have found the following sources useful:

-beyondblue 1300 224 636 (beyondblue.org.au)

-Lifeline  13 11 14 (lifeline.org.au)

-SANE 1800 187 263 (sane.org.au)

-Australian Psychological Society Referral line 1800 333 497 (psychology.org.au/findapsychologist)

Leilah Nelson

Thanks to Beyond Blue for references

Good news. Healthy mums mean healthy kids.

A new study today has found that if mums are healthy, kids are too.

Not exactly rocket science but the key findings, reported here in the Daily Telegraph, are:

For each hour mum increases her physical activity, their child’s play time increases by 16 minutes a day.

But if mum adds an hour of screen time, their child’s sedentary viewing expands by eight minutes, the study found.

..Mum’s screen time was “the only factor significantly associated with their child’s screen time”.

So now we have no excuse for not getting out for that walk!

When I had to do a lot of physiotherapy after a second painful  knee operation last year, I learned that, despite being busy like all working mums, it actually was possible to find time for exercise.   I had additional motivation because I was facing a permanent limp unless I actually did my thirty minutes every single day, but it was a great lesson to learn.

I’ve slipped back a bit since then but I found new ways of exercising I hadn’t considered before.  The best one was to do lunges and push ups on playground equipment.  You need to manage it so you can see enough to race over and stop your kids from waving that stick around or jumping off something and breaking a leg, and it feels a little silly at first, but it does actually allow you to do two things at the same time.  I also try and catch up with friends for a walk and coffee at the end, rather than just a coffee, or to meet with children at the beach or playground with a ball so I can get a little incidental exercise.  Chasing a three year old on soft sand gets your heart rate up!

Does this study make sense to you?  Do you have time to exercise, and do you think it influences your children?

Kirsten

Ok, so 50 Shades is mummy porn. But why do we love it? Guest post from Leilah Nelson

Fifty Shades of Grey – the latest in mummy porn – has spawned an underground female movement that would make suffragettes blush.

Its erotic subject matter has resulted in secretive whisperings, conspiratorial winks and guarded discussions in elevators and female toilets worldwide. I practically inhaled its shocking BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) content. Short of offering my husband a contract with a non-disclosure clause, I was addicted and read the entire trilogy, despite its apparent lack of literary style.

The novel has captured the attention of the female populous with Oprah, no doubt, bringing out a TV special soon enough. It has encouraged a host of parodies such as 50 Shades of Mt Druitt (a take on “bogan” sexapades),  50 Sheds of Grey on Twitter (with the tag line “erotica for the not so modern male”) and notably the Saturday Night Live spoof advertised by Amazon, celebrating mother’s day. “Why not surprise your mother with a gift from Amazon? Get her what she really wants – 50 Shades of Grey on kindle!!”  Implied is the notion that nobody knows what mum is reading if its on kindle. It begs the question then whether 50 Shades has now become synonymous with “mummy porn”?

The truth is mummy porn or as I like to call it, romance literature, has existed long before E.L. James, author of 50 Shades, introduced us to the Red Room of Pain. Mills & Boon, the founders of romance literature, recently celebrated their centenary, confirming their position at the top of fiction publishing with 200 million sales each year. Statistically, a M&B novel is purchased in the UK every 7 seconds. The success of romance literature seems to be defined by formulaic storylines with stereotypical characters. The novels themselves cost little or nothing to purchase and are readily accessible, notably in supermarkets or newsagents. 50 Shades definitely follows that tried and tested formula but computer technology has allowed it to be download to ipad, iphones and kindle resulting in a phenomenal rise of e-sales. Not to mention the author herself designed the very discreet book covers. Combined, it provides anonymity for the average reader in train carriages, shopping aisles and medical waiting rooms worldwide. But what does this say about the average romance reader?

The theory that men watch porn, while women read romance novels is supported by Ogi Ogas article The online world of female desires.  She points out that woman and men differ in their preferred forms of erotica. Men find a two minute porn video sufficient whereas women seek their erotica in lengthy romance novels, complex narratives that ultimately, besides the sex, takes hours to dissect and resolve. Interestingly Ogas states that statistically the number of woman romance readers almost equals the number of male online porn viewers. But why does 50 Shades separate the mummies from the girls?

50 shades is romantic fiction and erotic literature. Maybe it’s the latter, that sleep deprived, vomited on, time-impoverished mothers have been secretly craving. Maybe all my childfree girlfriends are living the life of Anastasia Steele and therefore have no need to fantasise about it? Readers via online forums, have credited the book for improving both their sex lives and broadening their sexual education. And no doubt, in the process pushed up the sales of ropes, whips and computer cable cords!

Social media is abuzz about the novel and most definitely in love with Mr Grey. He’s the new Mr Darcy, but darker and richer. He’s the new Edward, but older and let’s face it…alive! There is talk of movie deals, Tv series, sequels. Hmm…but what is an accurate representation of the 50 Shades demographic?

A Sydney radio talk show recently invited women in their mid to late 30’s, with fewer than five sexual partners to contact the program. Surprisingly their phone lines were inundated with women who had even less than 3 sexual partners, most agreeing they did not regret being more promiscuous. Suffice to say, the hosts were very surprised. My theory is that the shy, 30 something woman defines the niche market in e-romances. Ogas notes that the Web has allowed women to not only access e-romances, but provides a forum in which to interact, discuss and post their own amateur writings. The online romance market is booming!

But why is it that mothers, of all age brackets, were the target audience of Amazon advertising?   Mothers… who are now blushing 50 shades while exploring the confronting lifestyle of BDSM!!  Why mothers specifically?

I need answers. Have sent husband to hardware store for some natural fibre rope…

Leilah

Have you read 50 shades?  Do you know why it’s popular?

 

Marketing for Moms: Mother’s Day Is the Second Most Popular Gifting Holiday

Wow, Mother’s Day is big business! Do you have your Mother’s Day plans sorted? Do you get a rest on Mother’s Day? Or do you spend it looking after your own mum or mum in law?

The Lipstick Economy

You can be late with our birthday present, but don’t fool around on Mother’s Day.  Research from Unity Marketing shows that Mother’s Day is ranked the second most popular gifting holiday after Christmas.  It’s estimated that consumers will be spending $18.6 billion for someone special on Mother’s Day. Individual consumers expect to spend an average $152.52 on the holiday compared to $140.73 in 2011.

NRF reports that of the 86.5% celebrating Mother’s Day this year, nearly 65% will shop for their mom or stepmom, while others will buy gifts for their wife (22.4%), daughter (10.5%), grandmother (8.2%), sister (8.4%), friend (7.6%) or godmother (2.1%).

And here is another bit of good news for Moms:  Chocolate and other consumables are some of the most popular and fastest growing categories for Mother’s Day gifts.  What’s not growing?  Greeting cards are seeing a bit of a decline, even though NRF reports that 83%…

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Life as a Role Model

Mum.  Wife.  Daughter.  Manager.  Colleague.  Friend.

Most of us have lots of titles.

I am starting to realise another one I hadn’t yet included.  Role Model.

My daughter has just turned three.  Yes, it’s a delightful age. We’re just starting to experience her increasing ability to express herself, her burgeoning personality and she’s making her own friends for the first time.

She’s also learning a lot about the world around her.  She’s decided she must be married to her friend Oliver because most of the other people in her life come in heterosexual couples.  (Sorry about that friends whose families come in different shapes and sizes – we must have you over more often!)

She’s also assumed that my last name is the same as my husbands because hers is. (Umm, nope.)

I am also being asked to share any clothes she’d like to wear to play Working.

Playing Working means picking up my handbag, putting one of her father’s ties around her shoulders, and putting on a pair of my shoes.  She then picks up her keys and heads to the front door.

This is life as Miss 3 knows it.

It’s also the age when you start to wonder what she’ll be good at later in life;   whether she’s clever, what her strengths are.  Her language and emotional intelligence seem good, so maybe she’ll be a psychologist.  She seems a tad clumsy, so probably won’t be a professional tennis player.

I’m not too concerned about any of these, but I do want her to have confidence, friends and to always feel that she is loved.

And I am starting to realise how important it is for me to be a good role model to help these things happen.

When I go to the gym in the morning, I’m showing her that exercise is  important to me.  That I value being healthy and it makes me feel good. (I still love a cuddle in bed on the non-gym mornings though!)

When I go to work, I am showing her that women can be mummies and have a job too.  When I take a work phone call outside work hours, as frustrating as it is for both of us, I am showing her that other people value me, that my advice and support is needed by others.

When I have coffee with a friend, I am showing her I’m an individual with my own needs and preferences, just like her.

When Daddy and I go out for an evening, I’m showing her that Daddy and I have a relationship that is not always about her.  We go to dinner as a family too, but each of us makes time for a relationship one on one.

Until recently, all of these things made me feel guilty and torn between my roles as Mum and Worker  – and Working Mum was all I could be.

Accepting my job as a Role Model has not only relieved my guilt about two roles, but has created a bit more space for Wife, Daughter and Friend as well.

Kirsten

Do you see your life as a series of different roles for you to play?

Do you feel torn between them?