Category: <span>Relationships</span>

Surviving the first few weeks and months as a new mother

If you are in the first few weeks or months after the arrival of your first baby, please read on! Many new mothers (and fathers) are SO hard on themselves, feel completely overwhelmed, and don’t know where to start.  Here are a few thoughts to get you started:


Remember (for the birth mother), you are still recovering for a while following the birth. You will feel uncomfortable and different – your body has just gone through something incredible. Don’t try to spring back, and you’re not meant to right away!


Accept any and all caretaking – whether that’s by your own mother, your spouse, or a friend. Be specific on what kind of support would help if you know what that is; maybe it’s meals, maybe it’s 20 minutes of watching your baby so that you can have a shower.  If you’d had major knee surgery, you would probably let people help you, right? The same idea applies here.


Make sleep (although usually disjointed) a priority – naps may become not only your new best friend but also your lifeline. The dishes can wait. And remember in the early days, your nights are your days and your days are your nights (that’s your baby will think at least!) I repeat – daytime naps will be key for many new mothers.


Spring for convenience when you need it in those early days. Be it hiring someone to come and clean, buying takeout occasionally, or if you are at your wit’s end with regards to sleep and you need to enlist a sleep consultant, don’t be afraid to admit defeat! This is not the time for ego 😊


Know that you won’t feel like you know what you’re doing for a while. But your instincts will come, trust those and when you don’t know what to do, your best guess is going to have to do. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Let the guessing game begin!


On the above note, lower your expectations for yourself during this time. And then lower them again! This isn’t permanent, it’s survival.


At the beginning, limit visitors to only your closest friends and family. Schedule these visits as brief and staggered at the beginning and open things up as you develop a bit of a routine.


Reach out if you need to.  I change my mind, don’t wait until you NEED to. Just do it. This could be as simple as sending a text to a friend. Many people tend to stay away because they don’t want to intrude or do not know that you are having a hard time.


Give yourself (and your partner) a big pat on the back for what you’ve accomplished.  So keep the compliments flowing and be generous with forgiveness!


Know that it’s very common for couples to see A LOT more conflict during this transition. It’s such a hard time for any relationship. So don’t panic, but do what you can to limit destructive behaviour on your end. Just remember the big picture and know that it will get easier with time, as you both find your way through (and start to get more sleep!). If there are damaging dynamics happening, take ownership, and then try a different way.

If this last one sounds all-too-familiar, click here to learn about my online course:  New Parents Relationship SOS.

This is the shortcut for getting your relationship back on track!

Waiting for baby

Tips for the Mother-to-be on THRIVING into parenthood

Maybe you’re in your final trimester or even the last few weeks of pregnancy, and suddenly it hits you: I AM ABOUT TO HAVE A BABY. 

Read on for the top tips on how to mentally prepare!

Try to not worry too much about having all of the baby ‘stuff’.  Get the essentials to make you feel prepared.  It usually helps to talk to friends or other moms about what they couldn’t live without.  But know that if you really need something, you can always go get it or have it delivered within days.  I needed cute crib sheets to feel ready.  You may need a giant stuffed giraffe for the nursery.  To each their own! 


Declutter.  With the arrival of a new family member right around the corner, now is the perfect time to get rid of unwanted clothes or clutter.


Treat yourself to some self-care that will probably be neglected for the next year or so!  Get a haircut, a massage, go to the dentist, or sit at the beach and read a book.  Whatever you consider self-care – stock up now!


Sleep in.  Eat well.  Call your friends.


Reflect on what you are expecting this time will be like.  Journal or talk to your friends who are already mothers about what it was like for them.  Everyone’s journey is so unique – but hearing others’ stories helps us to keep our own expectations realistic.


Finally, dive into deep conversations with your partner.  For example:

    1. What are you anxious about? 

    2. What is our postpartum plan?  

    3. Are our finances in order? 

    4. Who is going to help in the early days, and for how long?

    5. What are our expectations of ourselves? And each other?

    6. Knowing our strengths and challenges as a couple, where might we do well in this adjustment? 

    7. Where might we struggle?

I know these conversations aren’t necessarily as fun as picking out baby names, but they are SO SO important! AND you will find that if you make them a priority, you feel so much more prepared.  So much relationship conflict comes down to differing expectations and not communicating well about your vision as you enter this next chapter.  So talk about things NOW!


Want to learn more about how to set your relationship up for success into motherhood? 

Click here to learn about my online course for expectant parents: Babyproof your Relationship! 

Reclaiming a Meaningful Pregnancy during a Pandemic

“My baby shower has been canceled, our trip is not going to happen, and all of our exciting pre-baby plans thrown out the window.”


“My husband just lost his job – now I’m worried about our financial stability.”


“What if my friends and family can’t come to visit us when our baby arrives?”


“We both are so stressed and moody… but I feel like we are not connecting, and it’s scary to think about how we will cope with a new baby.”


“People are dying all around the world… what right do I have to complain about morning sickness or low energy?”


“I’m exhausted, working more than ever and feeling hardly any connection to my baby right now… and then feeling guilty about it.”


“I’m worried about what kind of world my baby is going to be born into.”


Do any of these sound familiar?

I’m hearing over and over from my pregnant clients the multiple ripple effects that this pandemic is having in many parts of their life.  Maybe for you this means increasing day-to-day stress and uncertainty, or causing financial concerns, worries over your health and the health of your baby, as well as adding pressure to relationships.  

We can’t help but minimize our losses

And yet there’s also a common theme of bookending any complaints with “but I’m sure lots of other people have it way worse”.  And so begins the process of squashing down our emotions because they don’t feel fair, significant, or justifiable.

But let’s face it, we as humans like to make plans, set goals, and arrive at a destination.  Preferably one that we had planned. We also have expectations that may sound unimportant to others, but carry personal meaning for us.

I couldn’t type fast enough to write the list above – there are SO many examples because the changes, adjustments, and losses are far-reaching.  Everything from the seemingly small inconvenience, such as a canceled social event – to much bigger existential questions about what the future looks like – they all are worth naming, talking to your partner about, and grieving. 

Don’t rush to find a silver lining

And despite what many well-intending friends and family will do – which is to often go straight to the silver lining, or convince you that everything is going to be ok – I am here to do something different.  To encourage you to have a good cry (or laugh) about how your world has been shaken up, at a time when you may feel at your most vulnerable. And how your hopes and dreams for your pregnancy are feeling far out of reach.  From this place – and only from this place – can you truly process the impact of the pandemic and be able to move through it in an emotionally constructive way. 

“…have a good cry (or laugh) about how your world has been shaken up, at a time when you may feel at your most vulnerable; how your hopes and dreams for your pregnancy are feeling far out of reach.  From this place – and only from this place – can you truly move through this is an emotionally constructive way.”

4 Steps to Reclaiming Meaning in your Pregnancy

1)  As described above, name the losses you are grieving. 

  • Make a list or use a journal
    • This includes everything from small inconveniences, to the total shakeups
  • What are those things that are most upsetting to you?
  • Which has had the greatest impact?

 2)  Check-in on your values. 

  • How do you want to show up in the face of this adversity?
  • What are realistic expectations of yourself and your partner through all of this?
  • Through all of this, what have you learned about what matters or doesn’t matter?
  • What lessons do you want to carry into the next chapter?

 3)  Find & create moments of connection with your body and your baby.

  • This could be a daily ritual, for example before bed, where you have some quiet time to connect, reflect, and tune into your body
  • What do you notice? What do you feel?
  • Or simply paying more attention, in the moment, to simple pleasures – be they food, sunshine, a friend’s voice, or a funny movie

3)  Allow yourself to think about the future.

  • Yes, there is bound to be some uncertainty, and you may not have all of the answers about what the next several months or years may look like
  • But even in crisis, you are entitled to think about the future and all of the new hopes you have for your child and family
  • Ask yourself:
    • What am I most excited about?
    • How do I imagine explaining this time to my child?
    • What do I want to remember about it?

4)  Finally, spend some time on problem-solving and taking control.

  • What can you control right now in your pregnancy? 
  • What will make you feel even a little bit more excited about your pregnancy? 
  • Have you considered a ‘virtual’ baby-shower (if that’s important to you?)
  • What do you need from your partner right now?  This could be something as simple as carving out time with your partner to connect with your baby and find a moment of normalcy.  

A final note… a strong relationship IS within your control with my Online Course for expectant parents

We often forget to take the time to nurture and strengthen the most important part – the partnership.  By feeling more confident in our relationship, we can be the best possible parents to our new babies and ENJOY this incredible time so much more.  We can grow closer to our spouse instead of disconnecting or drifting apart.

To learn more and see a free preview of my online course, click here: Babyproof your Relationship Online Course

Adjusting to Parenthood

It’s been a year since I have entered into the world of parenthood.  It’s been one of the most stressful and emotional periods – filled with huge highs and lows.  During this time, I’ve seen new parts of myself and my partner that I haven’t known before (good and bad!).

This precious time with our babies has also forced me to really appreciate the challenges that many of the clients I work with face as they adjust to being new parents.  The sleepless nights.  The changes to your identity and your body.  The huge time pressures and responsibility.  And of course, new dynamics in your relationship.  These are just a few of the MANY challenges.  But does it HAVE to be so hard?

Online Preparation Course for Expectant Parents

I am on a mission to help more expectant parents learn the tools they need to help their relationship thrive during this time.  Recognizing that face-to-face counselling isn’t for everybody,  I’ve designed a self-paced, affordable option, delivering the same information I teach to couples in my office.

I’m really excited to announce the launch of my online course: “Baby-proof Your Relationship” – to help people PREPARE their relationship for the arrival of a baby.  As expectant parents, we get so caught in the practical things we need.  The crib, the stroller, the change table.

A Strong Relationship is Best for your Baby

We often forget to take the time to nurture and strengthen the most important part – the partnership.  By feeling more confident in our relationship, we can be the best possible parents to our new babies and ENJOY this incredible time so much more.  We can grow closer to our spouse instead of disconnecting or drifting apart.

To learn more about this course go to: www.counsellorruth.thinkific.com

7 Truths about Commitment

As the leaves begin to fall and the chill sets into the air, I am reminded that another summer wedding season has drawn to a close.  In the spirit of celebrating committed relationships, I enlisted the help of anonymous participants (ages 25-40) to complete a survey on marriage and commitment.  On today’s blog, I share 7 Truths about Commitment, inspired by their responses as well as my experiences with clients.  A big thank you to all who contributed.

1. Commitment means more than saying ‘I do’

Weddings are an excellent opportunity for couples to celebrate their love and also vocalize their intentions in front of friends and family – who they want to be as a partner as well as what they cherish in the other.

It’s been said over and over, but I’ll repeat it here, that a wedding is a day and a marriage is a lifetime.  Practically, I believe this to mean that true commitment has to be demonstrated on an ongoing basis, and not just when things are going well.  This may be small gestures like thanking your partner, showing appreciation, and apologizing first, or it could be more significant moments such as buying a home together, supporting your partner through a difficult time, and making efforts to integrate into each other’s families.

Read more

What is Your “Love Language”?

You may have heard your friends talk about it at a dinner party.  Or you may have seen it written in a relationship column somewhere.  Love Languages – what’s it all about?

This concept comes from the influential work of Dr. Gary Chapman and his book, The 5 Love Languages, which has become a staple in the world of couples counselling (and has since been extended to other relationships as well).  According to Dr. Chapman, one of the main issues between couples stems from our tendency to speak different ‘Love Languages’ than our partner.

 

The 5 Love Languages

Let me explain.  According to this theory, there are five Love Languages, or ways that we communicate love.  Most of us have one or two that for us, best indicate a gesture of love.  These include:  acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts, words of affirmation, and physical touch, and although they are distinct categories, how they are defined are quite personal.  To give you a better understand of how they are different, below are some examples:

Read more

Rebuilding after an Affair

An affair is one of the most difficult situations a relationship may face.  It almost always involves feelings of hurt, betrayal, and violation of trust to one or both parties.  After an affair is disclosed or discovered, couples are left to determine what is left of their relationship.  They must decide whether to pick up the pieces and rebuild, or begin the process of separating and moving beyond the pain. Read more

Surviving the first few weeks and months as a new mother

If you are in the first few weeks or months after the arrival of your first baby, please read on! Many new mothers (and fathers) …

Waiting for baby

Tips for the Mother-to-be on THRIVING into parenthood

Maybe you’re in your final trimester or even the last few weeks of pregnancy, and suddenly it hits you: I AM ABOUT …

Reclaiming a Meaningful Pregnancy during a Pandemic

“My baby shower has been canceled, our trip is not going to happen, and all of our exciting pre-baby plans thrown out the …