A note from Felicity:

Listen up!

Parents of atypical kids and kids of atypical parents!

I am thrilled to introduce the WTF community to Dr. Rita Eichenstein, a rock star in the world of pediatric neuropsychological assessments, which is fancy wording for diagnosing the relationship between brain health and behavior in children. Which means, when you have a kid with developmental differences (like I do!), and have Rita in your corner, you’ve grabbed the gold ring. After 15 minutes of sitting in her office, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. Rita has the intuition of a crystal ball reader and the intellect of a scientist. She “got” my kid and knew just how to help her AND ME.

Rita just published a book, Not What I Expected: Help and Hope for Parents of Atypical Children which sits on my nightstand now with Post-it Notes stuck all over it. But this is not just a book about atypical kids themselves, but how best to parent them and take care of YOURSELF on the journey.

I asked Rita if she would share her genius and charm with us at WTF and she said, “yes!” It’s great to have a specialist who believes that the gifts of parenting come in packages you least expect. And that Good Parenting doesn’t come in perfection, but in compassion and understanding, both for yourself and your kid. 

It is such a relief to hear from an expert that doesn’t sound like a clinician, but like a caring friend.

And to give you a taste of her book, here is a really wonderful, practical excerpt from Not What I Expected, called, “Your Self-Care Menu.” 

You can learn more about Dr. Rita from her website.

Welcome Rita!

Enjoy WTF,

Love, Flicka

When counseling parents, I help them assemble a customized “self-care menu.” The idea is that you brainstorm activities that appeal to you and give them a try in whatever amount you like. You may choose an “appetizer” portion in case you only have fifteen minutes, a “main course” that gives you a larger dose of relief or relaxation, or a “dessert” that you use as reward for a particularly rough day. If you are a full-time working parent, this applies to you as well. In addition to wearing two hats, the home hat and the office hat, you deserve to find some space you can call your own. What would it look like for you?

In putting together your personal self-care menu, you will want to think about your life before you became a parent. What got you out of bed each morning? What was your joy, your favorite hobby, your dream activity? What nourishes your soul, even momentarily? Everyone has interests that can be powerfully healing. Look back and recall the activities that were the most fun or meaningful. Was it laughter and wine with friends? Taking your dog to obedience class? Going to concerts? Cooking a great meal? Playing softball? Repairing bicycles? Playing your guitar? Zumba class? Reading a great novel? Or just having some solitude? Customize the items on your self-help menu so that even reading your list will give you a little lift. Here are the categories that the parents I work with have found to be most helpful.

Connect with Nature

The Japanese have a phrase for the healing effects of nature: shrinrin-yoku or “forest bathing.” Something as simple as taking a walk outside, breathing in the air, and appreciating the wind in the trees can be restorative.

Move Your Body

Look for a physical activity you really enjoy and might even come to crave – riding your bike, dancing, walking, hiking, playing volleyball, boxing. Many people find that it’s more fun if you do this activity with a friend or partner. A great many people practice yoga and there is research to support the treatment of depression with specific types of yoga, although you might find ballroom dancing to be more to your liking.

Master Just One Thing at a Time and Then Celebrate It!

If you learn to master just one thing – that has nothing to do with your child – it can restore your sense of power. It does not matter what this one thing is; it can be anything from learning to knit to running a marathon. A side benefit to mastering just one thing is that competence at one thing leads to great competence in other areas of your life. By mastering that one thing, you prove to yourself that you are still learning, growing, becoming.

Find a Special Place for Yourself Outside the Home

All parents should be able to get away from the house and the role of mom or dad, and have a place where they can feel a glimmer of their old selves. Maybe you need solitude and can locate a special meditative spot in a forest or park near your home. Maybe you enjoy your local health club, where you can work out and also connect with other people who aren’t necessarily parents. Being outside of your home at a place that is not work related, even for a short burst of time, is invigorating.

Join a Group – Support or Otherwise

Joining or forming a support group comprised of other parents of atypical kids is an excellent way to share experiences and reduce your feelings of isolation. Learning form others about what has helped them will show you that there are more paths toward hopefulness than you may have imagined. If you feel the need for a community of people who are not parents, where you can share other interests, that is every bit as legitimate as a support group.

Make Date Night a Top Priority (with Your Partner or Your Friends)

Before you became a parent, you had dates with your partner or your friends. It’s time to revive that enjoyable custom.

Help Someone Else

You might think you are burned out with helping, seeing as you are already a caretaker for your child. But I’ve found in talking to many families that the one thing they are most grateful for is the opportunity to give back. It may seem like a terrible thought to ask you to give even more than you are giving, but the funny thing is, seeing people (or animals) in terrible situations that are different from your own can trigger some positive, meaningful feelings inside of you.

Reprinted from Not What I Expected by Rita Eichenstein, PhD, by arrangement with Perigee, a member of the Penguin Publishing Group, a Penguin Random House Company, Copyright © 2015 by Rita Eichenstein.

Rita will be speaking and signing copies of her book in Los Angeles at The Grove’s Barnes and Noble today, April 22 at 7pm.

When you’re parents of newborns, it doesn’t take long for sleep deprivation to set in.  If you’re lucky, you have a spouse that will share nighttime duties with you so you can get a few moments of shut-eye, but it’s really just never enough.

People tell you: “You better sleep now, because you won’t when the baby comes!”  Is it me, or is that one of the most ridiculous things to say to people?  Can you really stock up on sleep? If I normally need 7 hours of sleep and for a week sleep for 8 hours, does that mean I have an extra night of sleep in my super, special, sleep hoard somewhere?  Because if that’s the case, I should have at least a good week still from all the 13-14 hours I slept every day in the summers as a teenager.

My husband and I were really, really lucky that our twins started sleeping through the night at 3 months old.  I know a lot of people who have 1 and 2 year olds that still wake up once a night.  Ours do, too, occasionally, but unless they are blood-curdling, obviously sick and dying screams, we lie in bed and wait for them to get over it and fall back asleep.  It’s the rare occasion we have to go and rescue them.

Since about October, I think it is, I have reverted back to being a 3 month old baby, and rarely sleep through the night.  We have no idea why.  I’m on a bunch of medicine for various things, and I have a cough that seems to wake me up a lot.  I’ve tried lots of things to ensure I sleep well: alcohol, muscle relaxers, perfectly timed migraine medicine, reading, and staying up until I hit that moment where I’m ready to sleep.  Still, in the past 2 months, I think I’ve slept through the night 5 times.

One thing I haven’t tried more than once is having my husband rub my back until I fall asleep.  Ahem, until I fall asleep.  You reading this, honey?  I’ll give you a cookie!  In his defense, it takes me awhile to fall asleep that way, ’cause it’s nice and he and I stay up way too late.  How can you not, when Netflix has movies like “Bitchslap” and “Hobo with a Shotgun”?

Occasionally, I do sleep through the night, and it’s a big deal in the morning.  I wake up and exclaim like a proud toddler who used the potty for the second time in a row: “Honey, I slept through the night!”  He always give me his cute little grin and says: “You did? Good job, baby!”

I’m waiting for him to bring me home a sticker chart any day now.

This post was originally featured on Carrie’s blog

Looking for drinks for a summer party? Or planning on handing your kids off and drinking by yourself on the front porch? Great idea, either way. Transport yourself to West Egg and pretend its the 1920s with these five cocktails inspired by the inimitable Great Gatsby.

1.) Mint Julep

Great Gatsby Inspired Cocktails

We couldn’t kick this list off with any other drink. Obviously this is Daisy’s old standby and a perfectly icy, fresh classic.  Say it with us: ahhhh…

2.) French 75

Great Gatsby Inspired Cocktails

This drink looks super classy which obviously makes it a great fit. A creative cocktail made with champagne AND bourbon? Count us in!

3.) Tuxedo #2

Great Gatsby Inspired Cocktails

There’s nothing more appropriate for a big, extravagant party than a tuxedo. Trade in your martini for one of these and keep it classy!

4.) The Bees Knees

Great Gatsby Inspired Cocktails

(photo via)

Not only is this drink named after one of our favorite 1920s expressions, but it’s made with honey and lemon which automatically makes it amazing. It’s like it was made for summer!

5.) 12-Mile Limit

Great Gatsby Inspired Cocktails

The 12 Mile Limit is named after a prohibition law so naturally you’ll feel really sneaky drinking it. Or something.

How’s a grilled cocktail with vodka and lemonade sound? What about a grilled peach bellini? Well, if you’re at all sane you’re probably ready for the recipes right about now:

Ingredients – Peach Bellini

grilled peaches
brown sugar
champagne

Ingredients – Vodka Lemonade

Simple syrup
grilled lemons
vodka

 

After being mauled by little fingers all day, sometimes you just need to be rubbed the right way. You know how your husband sweetly offers to give you a massage, slides his hands across your back for a few minutes and falls asleep?

That’s the wrong way.

Do yourself a favor, forget about getting dinner on the table tonight, and get yourself on a table for one of these treatments instead:

1. Body scrub.

Yes, in the hands of a professional, your skin can be as soft and sweet as your baby’s. Try the Hacienda Retreat at The Fairmont Princess and mark my words – you will never again scold your kids for playing with their food after delighting in the lovely sensation of being dusted with yellow corn, kneaded with lime zest, spearmint and lemon and swaddled like an infant to let it all marinate. This exfoliating/moisturizing/massage treatment left me feeling like mush, and I even took home some of the yummy products to bring me back to this happy place whenever I need to relax.

2. Pedicure.

Can you imagine having your feet lovingly tended to for 80 minutes? For moms who can barely sit down for five seconds without someone needing something from them, the Hot Stone & Honey Pedicure at Miraval is a transformative experience. Hot stones melt away tension, and yummy scrubs, gels and oils rejuvenate your calves, ankles and toes. You then get to choose one of the gorgeous Deborah Lippman polishes which will make you smile every time you look down at your feet – even if it’s because one of the kids has stepped on them.

3. Massage.

Moms know there is nothing more special than being kneaded. For a really unique treatment, the Holistic Massage at the Phoenician blends three techniques of your choice for a totally different and custom experience. Try combining hot stone, deep pressure and Reiki to literally give you back your energy. It awakens both your mind and body, and completely renews your spirit. I can’t tell you exactly why it all works – Reiki is fascinating to me – but it does! It’s simply invigorating.

4. Exfoliation.

Sometimes you just have to strip away the top layer to get to the good stuff. Proving that everything we tell our kids isn’t necessarily true, the Sticks and Stones treatment at La Costa will not break your bones – it will actually soothe them. Hot stones send healing heat deep into your muscles, then your skin is polished with a bamboo scrub until it’s oh-so-smooth and a rich, herbal lotion is massaged into your body. You’ll be ready to face the rest of your busy day, but won’t be able to stop admiring your silky

5. Aromatherapy.

Exchange the daily smells that make up your life – dirty diapers, wet dogs, leftovers sitting in the fridge – for the heavenly scents of mint, tangerine, cardamom, lemon blossom wafting over you throughout the Hamman Experience at Hotel Valley Ho. This signature treatment cleanses, mists, exfoliates, massages and moisturizes. As a mom, you’ll appreciate the multi-tasking and, more luxuriously, the multi-basking.