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Mom | Orthodontist | Business Professional https://www.mommydds.com Creating smiles at work and home Tue, 09 Aug 2016 08:00:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.17 Avoid this Mistake https://www.mommydds.com/avoid-this-mistake/ https://www.mommydds.com/avoid-this-mistake/#respond Tue, 09 Aug 2016 08:00:24 +0000 http://www.mommydds.com/?p=642 I recently had a conversation with a new grad about her current job situation.  She was incredibly unhappy and even though she was trying, it was just not working out.  When we were discussing the details of her contract, I was stunned at the things she agreed to.  Not only was the daily rate ridiculously […]

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I recently had a conversation with a new grad about her current job situation.  She was incredibly unhappy and even though she was trying, it was just not working out.  When we were discussing the details of her contract, I was stunned at the things she agreed to.  Not only was the daily rate ridiculously low, every provision was written heavily in favor of the employer.  I asked her why she would sign such a document and her answer was that she was desperate and there were no other job opportunities available.

That statement brought me back to my last year of residency.  I graduated in a much better job market than today, but I remember that feeling when there was only one job available in the area I was looking.  That feeling was desperation.  Just as the resident I mentioned above, I let desperation make all my decisions.  When my gut told me not to continue negotiations with this particular doc, desperation told me I had no other options.  When my husband asked me if we should hire an attorney to review the paperwork, desperation lashed out at him.  Desperation is the enemy.  Desperation does not make good decisions.  Desperation led me and most likely this young doc into extended litigation that cost more money than I care to admit.  But, I can tell you that the emotional toll on myself and my husband was a much higher price.

Times are tough – I get it.  But that doesn’t mean you are forced to make bad decisions.  There are better alternatives out there.  I realize you may not get everything you want.  You might not get to practice in the city you’ve always dreamed of, or you might not be paid the salary you thought you would.  But, you have the greatest gift imaginable – women’s intuition.  Listen to that inner voice and crush desperation.  You will make better choices in the long run.

Don't make a mistake that will cause you pain later

Don’t make a mistake that will cause you pain later

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Something Important Before You Sign that Contract https://www.mommydds.com/something-important-sign-contract/ https://www.mommydds.com/something-important-sign-contract/#respond Tue, 02 Aug 2016 15:03:36 +0000 http://www.mommydds.com/?p=638 Disclaimer:  I’m not a lawyer or accountant, so please contact your specialists for any clarification on this topic.   I talk with Docs all the time.  Now that I’ve started this group, I am in contact with all kinds of people in different stages of their careers and it’s really fun.  When I look in […]

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Disclaimer:  I’m not a lawyer or accountant, so please contact your specialists for any clarification on this topic.

 

I talk with Docs all the time.  Now that I’ve started this group, I am in contact with all kinds of people in different stages of their careers and it’s really fun.  When I look in the mirror, the not so flawless face reflecting back at me represents someone in the middle.  I’ve been out of school for 12 years and have an established practice.  But, it’s not so established that I don’t clearly remember the early days and the struggles.  I think this perspective gives me an appreciation for the positions of both the new doc and the older doc.  So, as a completely neutral party in the middle of my career, I wanted to explain to you the difference between an employee and an independent contractor.  This was explained to me as a resident, but I am finding more and more people have blurred the lines between the two and it can be sticky for both sides if things aren’t completely clear.

From the IRS (directly from www.irs.gov):

Definition of an employee:

“Under common-law rules, anyone who performs services for you is your employee if you can control what will be done and how it will be done. This is so even when you give the employee freedom of action. What matters is that you have the right to control the details of how the services are performed.”

Definition of an independent contractor:

“People such as doctors, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, accountants, contractors, subcontractors, public stenographers, or auctioneers who are in an independent trade, business, or profession in which they offer their services to the general public are generally independent contractors. However, whether these people are independent contractors or employees depends on the facts in each case. The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done. The earnings of a person who is working as an independent contractor are subject to Self-Employment Tax.”

Clear as mud right?  Here’s some more from the IRS (directly from www.irs.gov)

“Facts that provide evidence of the degree of control and independence fall into three categories:

1.Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job?

2. Financial: Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (these include things like how worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)

3. Type of Relationship: Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (i.e. pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business?

Businesses must weigh all these factors when determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Some factors may indicate that the worker is an employee, while other factors indicate that the worker is an independent contractor. There is no “magic” or set number of factors that “makes” the worker an employee or an independent contractor, and no one factor stands alone in making this determination. Also, factors which are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in another.

The keys are to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control, and finally, to document each of the factors used in coming up with the determination.”

 

Things to consider as the young doc:

  • Is the hiring doc supplying all the materials, equipment to practice?
  • Does the hiring doc have control over bracket type, method of practice etc.?
  • Who collects the fees?
  • Who dictates the fees?
  • Who determines what insurances you participate with?
  • How are you being paid (percentage as rent or per diem)?
  • If this relationship terminates, how is it handled?

 

Things to consider as the hiring doc:

  • All of the above plus taxes are higher with an employee
  • If the young doc is an independent contractor – who “owns” the patients (this can become a legal nightmare)
  • Major tax penalties if the young doc is found to be an actual employee, not an independent contractor

 

Clearly, it is in the hiring docs best financial interest to have independent contractors.  That being said, it is not always legal and is not always in the best interest of the young doc.  If the associate is set up as independent contractor and it is done in a legal way, the young doc may have claim to the patients if she decides to leave the practice.

So both the young doc and the hiring doc need to hire separate attorneys to review the documents and to clarify their rights.  Only then, can a healthy, long lasting business relationship thrive.

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Honesty Makes You a Bitch https://www.mommydds.com/honesty-makes-bitch/ https://www.mommydds.com/honesty-makes-bitch/#comments Wed, 13 Jul 2016 15:59:54 +0000 http://www.mommydds.com/?p=634 Now that I’ve been practicing for 12 years and I’ve formed the Women in Orthodontics Study Group, I get frequent messages from residents and new grads trying to find their way in the world.  I guess that means I’m old, but I have been through a hell of a lot in those 12 short years […]

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Now that I’ve been practicing for 12 years and I’ve formed the Women in Orthodontics Study Group, I get frequent messages from residents and new grads trying to find their way in the world.  I guess that means I’m old, but I have been through a hell of a lot in those 12 short years of practice.  I’ve started two practices from scratch and bought a couple existing practices.  I’ve been totally ripped off by lying, cheating people (including some in our profession).  I’ve made the right choices that have paid off in a big way.  The more of these experiences I have, the more I realize there is still so much to learn.

Some of my negative experiences made my life a living hell.  I would never wish those experiences on anyone.  I want people to be happy and I want them to succeed.  So when people ask me for advice, I am usually pretty honest.  Unfortunately for me, this honesty may not be what they want to hear.  So instead of realizing that my frank response comes from a place of goodness in my heart, they get mad and call me a bitch – or at least think I am one.

Let me give you an example (this has happened twice recently):

New grad or soon to be new grad approaches me about opening a scratch practice in a saturated, metropolitan area.  They want advice on how to succeed.  I explain that they are choosing the hardest path possible in the area of orthodontics and that life would be much easier if they could find a location that was better suited for a new practice.  They ignore me and continue with the questions.  I explain again:

  1. The right location will allow you to work less and make more.  If you find the right area you can do almost everything else wrong and you will succeed.
  2. If you open in an extremely saturated market, you can do everything perfectly and still fall on your face.

Conversation ends and the person calls me a bitch – or thinks it.  Or worse, opens up down the street and starts telling people I told the person not to move to Phoenix because I didn’t want the competition (ugh).

Once again, my advice comes from a caring place in my heart.  Read this excerpt from a doc in Northern California:

“When I started my second office I worked like my hair was on fire; I campaigned as if I was running for public office.  I scheduled lunches daily with every dentist in a ten mile radius.  I did direct mail, television commercials and radio spots.  I held Invisalign days and patient appreciation events.  We did street fairs and farmer’s markets.  I had an advertisement at the local movie theater 30 seconds before the picture would start.  I advertised on shopping carts, placed flyers under windshield wipers, offered free iPods.  And the universe responded with a resounding “meh”.  No one cared………..Life was a bucket of shit with a barbed wire handle.”

Why would I encourage people to follow the same path?  I wouldn’t, but I’ve started to learn that you can’t help someone who won’t listen.  I was the same way as a resident.  I knew it all – or at least more than that person trying to help me.  I was special.  My situation was different.  I wouldn’t make those kinds of mistakes.  I was the exception to the rule.  Until I wasn’t.

So, I’ve resolved to just ignore my gut instinct to tell people the truth and just respond with, “That’s awesome.  You are going to do great.”  Otherwise, I’m just a bitch.

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E-mail Lifehack https://www.mommydds.com/e-mail-lifehack/ https://www.mommydds.com/e-mail-lifehack/#respond Mon, 11 Jul 2016 17:21:33 +0000 http://www.mommydds.com/?p=630 I may be late to the game here, but I maintained a single email address for all my communications for many years after I opened my practice.  I thought it made my life simple and clean by organizing my emails into various folders in a single account.  My husband had various accounts, and they just […]

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I may be late to the game here, but I maintained a single email address for all my communications for many years after I opened my practice.  I thought it made my life simple and clean by organizing my emails into various folders in a single account.  My husband had various accounts, and they just seemed like too much to keep track of.  This changed for me when our children required their own email addresses.  My husband didn’t want to give them a generic account and wanted a little more control over screening what they were sending and receiving.  So, he created a family domain and assigned emails through that (I don’t know how.  I don’t know the details, so don’t ask me).  He automatically assigned me a new email under the family domain.  Instantly, I had two email accounts whether I liked it or not.  After swearing that I would never use it, I reevaluated the situation and took it as an opportunity to reorganize my online life.  It’s been a fantastic change and has saved me quite a bit of time.  Here’s what I do now.

1. Personal account

This is my most guarded account.  I am very hesitant to give anyone this address.  This account is for family and close friends only.  If there is a message pending in this account, you know I will read it.  Because there is only important information coming to this account, it is not super active.  I may not get any messages on it all day, but when something pops up it gets my immediate attention.

2. Work account

This is pretty self-explanatory.  Anything work related goes here.  I am more open with this account and it is given to dentists and patients who want to contact me.  This email is second on my list when it comes to urgency.  If there is a message, I will get to it in a day or two.

3. Spam account

This is my favorite account, because it gave me the freedom to share my email address with anyone.  These days you need to provide an email for everything.  I do a lot of online shopping and they need to send receipts and shipping information.  But then you know you will get all their sales and specials sent to you forever.  I even have my organized dentistry emails here (sorry AAO – you have my spam account).  Although they may send emails that have some importance, they also seem to share our emails with vendors.  I don’t want the vendor emails, so AAO is spam.  Anyways, when I see messages in this account, I know that 99% of them aren’t important and I only check it once a day to clear it out.

Some may read this and think it’s overkill considering every email has areas with folders and filters for sorting this stuff.  Multiple accounts are easier for me because I can look at my phone to see if there is an important message based on the account it is in.  If my personal account has zero messages and my spam has 31, I can be assured that there is nothing urgent and I can move on with life without opening anything.  I welcome your comments, but be forewarned, they may go to my spam account!

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Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff https://www.mommydds.com/dont-sweat-small-stuff/ https://www.mommydds.com/dont-sweat-small-stuff/#respond Tue, 05 Jul 2016 14:59:41 +0000 http://www.mommydds.com/?p=625 It’s an intense process to become an orthodontist and certain personality types tend endure the experience better than others.  Those of us who have made it through are typically very hard working and tend to be perfectionists.  Although these traits have served us well in our academics, they also tend to hinder our business growth […]

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It’s an intense process to become an orthodontist and certain personality types tend endure the experience better than others.  Those of us who have made it through are typically very hard working and tend to be perfectionists.  Although these traits have served us well in our academics, they also tend to hinder our business growth with an undue amount of time spent on small things that really don’t matter in the long run.  Here are a few things to think about when you are making business and policy decisions for your office.

1. Focus on the big picture

Where do you want your practice in 10 years and how are you going to get there?  Is it possible a short term loss is going to result in a long term gain?  Is this thing you are worrying about going to matter to you in 10 years?  For example:  There was a post on the Ortho 101 group about charging staff of referring dentists the cost of the braces.  If you focus on the small, then you are going to be really upset about the fact that a ton of staff from a local office are “taking advantage” of you by getting braces at no cost.  This is money out the door and if you are a new practice, you probably don’t have money to spare.  If you focus on the big picture, you realize that these costs are negligible and that you may get much, much more goodwill from an office that has an entire staff wearing your braces – even if the doc doesn’t actively refer to you.  Early in your practice, the cost may seem important.  Ten years from now, you won’t even remember the cost but you will remember all the new patients that came to your office.  So the next time you are worrying about something happening in your office, don’t think small.  Take the big picture perspective and make the decision from there.  You shouldn’t let smallness dictate your decision making.

2.  Plan for the 99%

I’m pretty sure I need to give Ben Burris credit for this one.  This way of thinking has really changed my perspective when I’m thinking about my practice.  When developing policies for your office, they should be geared toward the most common situations.  Yes, there are going to be exceptions to the rule, but if you focus on the exceptions you will never get anything done.  For example:  You want all of your deband appointments to be during school hours.  Make the policy.  Don’t worry about your friend’s neighbor who has a child in a special school that handcuffs the children to their desks until 4PM.

You can also think about your business decisions in this way.  Is this a 99% problem that I need to solve or is it a 1%?  There are so many people who waste time focusing on the 1%.  For example:  You lost one patient to another orthodontist because you charge for a CBCT and he doesn’t.  Do you change your policy based on one or two people?  No!  But, how many of you have lamented over what you can change when one person chooses another office over you?  I know I have.  Make changes when you see a pattern that is causing problems or losses in your office and don’t worry so much about the little things.

3.  Deal with the 1% as it comes

You can’t ignore those 1% problems, so address them as they come.  Sometimes you will need to make exceptions to the rule.  Sometimes you will need to adjust your financial policies.  Exceptions happen.  Deal with them, move on and don’t lose any sleep.  Good office policies and good business decisions can remain in place even in the presence of exceptions.

So, when you are completely stressed over something happening in your office make sure to check yourself and don’t sweat the small stuff.

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You are Probably Working Too Much https://www.mommydds.com/probably-working-much/ https://www.mommydds.com/probably-working-much/#comments Mon, 20 Jun 2016 17:22:21 +0000 http://www.mommydds.com/?p=621 Matt and I opened our first office from scratch in 2006.  Our dream was to work together in a single location, two doctor practice in my hometown.  We built out a 4500 square foot office with room for 8 chairs (3 of which we had installed).  It was twice the size of our home.  Reflecting […]

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Matt and I opened our first office from scratch in 2006.  Our dream was to work together in a single location, two doctor practice in my hometown.  We built out a 4500 square foot office with room for 8 chairs (3 of which we had installed).  It was twice the size of our home.  Reflecting back, I can honestly tell you that we were very naïve about many things.  One of my biggest misconceptions was thinking that I needed to be present in the office all day, every day.  From day one, we set daily hours from 7AM-5PM.  I continued to worry about not being convenient enough, so we adjusted one day to close at 6PM.  When I think about it now, it was really ridiculous.  We were open 40 hours a week and had only a handful of people to see.

Not knowing any better, both of us showed every day.  We were lucky enough to always have a patient or two on the schedule, but most of the time we were just finding things to keep us occupied.  I used to eat my lunch in the waiting room and watch soap operas. Matt spent a lot of time working on systems we would use in the future or researching how we could grow the practice.  I learned how to file insurance claims and compiled an employee and OSHA manual.  Fast forward 5 years later.  We had two locations and a third child.  I was working three days a week and Matt was working 4-5 days a week to “make up” for my absence.  We were growing and lucky to be surviving the great recession.  Fast forward 2 more years and Matt was feeling overworked.  He loved the clinical practice of orthodontics, but wasn’t getting the behind the scenes work done as well as he would have liked.  As we all know, seeing patients is just one part of the job.  His struggles with lack of completion of administrative duties stemmed from constant interruption by team members needing him to do something or even worse –  just wanting to chat.  We also noticed a scheduling problem that is very common in our profession – our days were busy in the morning and later afternoon and the middle of the day was pretty quiet.

Matt wanted to consolidate our days.  I was firmly against the proposition.  I continued to feel that we needed to be available all the time for our patients.  He took a long time convincing me that we were working harder, not smarter.  To further his argument, Matt devised a schedule where we were each working 3 days a week and each of our offices would have patient days 2 days a week (we now have 3 offices).  Patient days were just that – full days of seeing patients and they would get our complete attention.  Non-patient days were not days off.  The offices remained open for emergencies, phone calls etc.  But those are the days where we got all of the necessary work done to grow our practice.

My husband would be more than happy to report that I was wrong.  The new schedule works like a charm.  Through creative templating, new patients can be seen within a week, prime appointments are not always full and our days are much more consistently busy – although not perfect.  Patients haven’t complained, because we are there to meet their needs.  I’m just no longer there watching soap operas.  Matt “working” less has resulted in huge growth for our practice.  Adding more non-patient days is one of the most valuable thing we have ever done.  In the office, we are running smoother and smarter.

So I urge you to do a little self-reflection.  Is your constant presence in the clinic actually hindering the growth of your practice?

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What Are Your Fears? https://www.mommydds.com/what-are-your-fears/ https://www.mommydds.com/what-are-your-fears/#respond Mon, 13 Jun 2016 16:17:09 +0000 http://www.mommydds.com/?p=615 I recently attended a women’s business conference and we spent about an hour on the topic of fear.  The take away message was –  just do it, even if you are afraid.  After a few days, I began to think more and more about fear.  Specifically reflecting on what I was afraid of when it […]

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I recently attended a women’s business conference and we spent about an hour on the topic of fear.  The take away message was –  just do it, even if you are afraid.  After a few days, I began to think more and more about fear.  Specifically reflecting on what I was afraid of when it comes to my practice.  As I pondered this question, I realized there was quite a bit.  There isn’t enough time to jump into the depths of my consciousness and evaluate all of my fears, so here are three that I think many women orthodontists share:

Fear of perception

This is one I have suffered from since childhood.  Why do I care what people think so much?  I waste countless hours of my time worrying about how I will be perceived.  The worst part of this affliction is that most of the people I worry about are not my friends and family.  I don’t know them, and sometimes I don’t care to know them.  I don’t like this part of me and I’ve been trying to improve.  I’m particularly inspired by my daughter and husband who have never cared what others thought and are much happier for it.

Now obviously, I want my business to have a positive public perception.  But, my decisions need to be made thinking about the community and not just what a few people think.  If the decision is better for the business and the community, who cares if a few people don’t like what I am doing?

Fear of standing out

It’s so much easier to blend in with the crowd in life and in business.  As orthodontists, we tend to run our businesses like all the other orthodontists.  We use the same marketing strategies and post the same stuff on Facebook.  Some offices actually actively look to copy one another.  But I hear all the time that we want to stand out from the others.  So why don’t we?  I think we may also fear that if the spotlight shines on us, negative things will come with that attention.  Criticism and jealously are rampant in our profession, especially with those who are doing things differently than ourselves.  I would suggest that we learn to stand proudly in the spotlight.  Ignore the chatter from the peanut gallery.  Who cares if a competitor doesn’t like what we are doing?  When was the last time they referred you any business?

Fear of failure

What if the decision I make doesn’t work out?  What if I lose money?  And once again – how will that make me look?  There are articles galore about how modern children are less prepared for life because we don’t allow them to fail.  But, we don’t want to fail either.  It sucks, plain and simple.  But, there is so much to gain from failure.  I’ve experienced failures where I thought the world would end.  It was painful and scary.  But, I survived and learned incredible lessons in the process.  Your business will not grow if you don’t take risks and sometimes you will fail.  Get comfortable with the idea and know that even the best fail some of the time.  I am confident that if you’ve never failed, you’ve never taken a risk that can make you great.

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Believe in Your Fees https://www.mommydds.com/believe-in-your-fees/ https://www.mommydds.com/believe-in-your-fees/#respond Wed, 08 Jun 2016 19:36:51 +0000 http://www.mommydds.com/?p=611 We took a last minute trip to Knotts Berry Farm for my son’s birthday a few weekends ago.  He was finally tall enough (barely) to ride all the rollercoasters in the park.  Because this was a birthday celebration, we wanted to make it memorable and special for him.  We were having a great time with […]

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We took a last minute trip to Knotts Berry Farm for my son’s birthday a few weekends ago.  He was finally tall enough (barely) to ride all the rollercoasters in the park.  Because this was a birthday celebration, we wanted to make it memorable and special for him.  We were having a great time with all the thrill rides and my son felt really grown up.  Too busy to stop for a real lunch, we decided to buy ice cream and bottled water for a quick refuel.  We easily found a cart with various treats and beverages.  The prices for all the items were clearly marked on the cart and we all picked out our snacks.  This is probably an appropriate moment to mention that we are amusement park veterans.  We go to Disneyland every single year.  Because this wasn’t our first rodeo, we knew this little snack was going to cost a fortune.  The cashier asked us if we were yearly pass holders and we answered no.  She gave us a look of pity and then stated, “I’m sorry, but this is going to be really expensive.”  Matt and I looked at each other in disbelief and I knew we were both thinking the same thing.  If she worked for us, she would be fired.  We paid the $45 and went on our way.

This little experience stuck with me all day.  As women, we tend to be sorry for everything.  I am as guilty of this as the rest of us.  But, we should not be sorry for our fees.  Although you may believe amusement parks may charge outrageous amounts for food, we charge a fair fee for our service.  We should not be sorry, because we are providing a great service to our patients.  If you feel like you do sub-optimal work, then maybe you should charge less.  But, if you feel you are providing high quality work in a personalized environment with great results, believe in yourself and believe in your fee.  If you don’t, patients will sense it and wonder what you are hiding.

Another lesson learned from this experience is listen to what your team is saying when they think you aren’t listening.  Do they believe in your fee?  Are they apologetic about retainer replacements?  Does your TC shy away from the dollar amount when she presents the case?  Are your TCs always asking you to discount?  If you see and hear these things, then you aren’t doing a good job of showing the value of your service to the people you are with every day.  You need to find a way to show your team the value of the service you are providing to your patients.  You may need to incorporate this into your team meetings.  Present them with some amazing before and after pictures.  Have people share stories of patients where you changed someone’s life.  If they don’t believe in you, who will?

This ice cream was expensive!

This ice cream was expensive!

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You might want to unsubscribe https://www.mommydds.com/might-want-unsubscribe/ https://www.mommydds.com/might-want-unsubscribe/#respond Tue, 07 Jun 2016 17:39:52 +0000 http://www.mommydds.com/?p=529 This blog will become active again and you may want to unsubscribe because the content is going to be completely different.  Please contact me with any questions.

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This blog will become active again and you may want to unsubscribe because the content is going to be completely different.  Please contact me with any questions.

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What Every New Mom Should Know https://www.mommydds.com/what-every-new-mom-should-know/ https://www.mommydds.com/what-every-new-mom-should-know/#comments Mon, 07 Oct 2013 03:08:20 +0000 http://www.mommydds.com/?p=503 It seems to be baby season in Arizona as I’ve attended quite a few showers in recent months. Ten years ago these were common events on my agenda, but as time has passed these gatherings are being replaced with birthday parties, recitals and graduations.  Wisdom supposedly comes with my increased age and child rearing experience.  […]

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It seems to be baby season in Arizona as I’ve attended quite a few showers in recent months. Ten years ago these were common events on my agenda, but as time has passed these gatherings are being replaced with birthday parties, recitals and graduations.  Wisdom supposedly comes with my increased age and child rearing experience.  I feel like my “wisdom” is giving me and a much different view of babies and motherhood in general.  Maybe it’s because I’m in the trenches, and the idea of a newborn makes me feel tired rather than excited.  Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mother.  But, I’m living the reality of raising three kids and it’s not all pretty – and most of the time I don’t look pretty doing it.

At one of these parties, we were supposed to write a piece of advice for the new mom to cherish as she anticipates the arrival of her bundle of joy.  This seems to be a fairly standard tradition and one that causes me an incredible amount of stress.  First of all, they always seem to place these tables right at the entrance.  You are trying to get oriented, your hands are filled with an awkwardly shaped gift, and you want to scope out the guests to see if your friends have arrived.  Instead, you are handed a piece of paper and a pen (no erasing and no mistakes) and are told to be “inspirational”. The worst is when they are placing these in a scrapbook or frame for a keepsake.  That’s a tremendous amount of pressure to say the right thing that will inspire the new mom and to come up with something original.  I also don’t want that kid to read it when they are an adult and think, “Couldn’t she come up with something better to say?  That’s not really thoughtful.  Check it out, she even misspelled a word!”  Sometimes I think if I can’t be inspirational, then maybe I can come up with something really witty.  I’ve never really been known for my sharp wit, but maybe in that moment I could channel the late great Johnny Carson and come up with something that would make them laugh.  The spirits have yet to cooperate, so I usually end up writing something sweet and from the heart.  After writing one of my inspirational tidbits, I felt a little empty. To be completely honest, my advice was pretty useless.  I noticed many others struggling to come up with things.  Many were on their mobile devices looking for bible verses and song lyrics that would inspire.  Here was some of the stuff they came up with:

Psalm 127:3
Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.

1 Samuel 1:27–28
“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.”

These are all beautiful sentiments, but are no use when you are changing your first explosive diaper or your child projectile vomited on you right as you were going to leave for work.

What she really needs to hear is the stuff nobody will say.  So here it is – the stuff I think every expecting mom needs to hear.

 

It’s OK to Be Overwhelmed

You aren’t going to know what to do all the time.  Just because you gave birth, it doesn’t mean you automatically know everything about being a mother.  And even if you are the “Type A” person who memorized all the books about childrearing, this little angel will throw you some curve balls (and then pee all over you).  Sometimes even when you know what to do, you might be too exhausted to do it.  Almost every mother I know can pinpoint a moment where everything seemed to come crashing down and she was completely overwhelmed.  And at that moment she has thought, “I’m not sure I can do this.”  For some, it can be the moment this tiny life is placed in your arms.  For others, it’s 2 AM and the kid just won’t stop screaming.  Repeat this when the time comes – “It’s perfectly normal to feel this way.  I am not a bad mom.  I am not alone and I will get through this.”

Please Have Someone Help You

When you have that feeling of being totally overwhelmed, when the baby won’t stop nursing and your nipples feel like they are going to fall off, the dishes are piling up, the laundry isn’t done and you haven’t slept for 24 hours – you need help.  Ask someone, hire someone, trade someone – just get someone to help you.  I’ve heard many mothers say, “I should be able to do all this by myself.”  No, you shouldn’t.  Why do you think families lived in multi-generational households for so long?  There was always someone there to help with the baby and to keep the household running.  And on the same note, when someone offers to help, take them up on it.  The only time you are allowed to refuse help is when you know that person’s “help” involves holding the baby so you can clean the house, cook dinner and do laundry.  You can refuse their help or better yet, redirect them to the tasks that really need to get done.

Get Over The Superwoman Complex – Fast

We all know her, that woman with the four perfect kids.  The kids are always wearing matching clothes and their hair is neat and combed.  Her house is impeccable and there is usually a plate of homemade (usually organic) cookies on the kitchen island and her dinners are created with fresh vegetables grown in her backyard garden.  She is thin and always dressed more stylishly than you were even before children.  She’s highly educated, well read, works outside and inside the home and does charity work.  She nursed all her kids for over a year and made all their baby food from scratch.  You envy her and hate her at the same time.  You aim to be like her.

STOP!  You are not her, so don’t try or you will lead yourself into great despair and disappointment.  This is not a realistic goal.  As I have met more of these women in my life, I can let you in on a little secret – it’s a ruse.  Everything may look perfect, but there are things (some quite important ones in fact) that are slipping through the cracks.  It may not be obvious to you, but their lives are not what you think.  Do not run yourself ragged trying to live up to this fantasy.  There will be days when you never change out of your pajamas and the only thing you will accomplish is feeding and changing the baby.  We all have those days and just making it through should be considered a success.  We are all human and we can’t do it all perfectly all the time.

It’s OK to Want Some Alone Time

You love your children and you are completely devoted to them.  That doesn’t mean that you need to spend every waking second with them.  No matter how deeply you love your children, they are going to drive you crazy sometimes.  You are going to lose your temper and you may feel like you are losing your mind.  If possible, this is the time to take a little break.  Even if it means locking yourself in the bathroom for 10 minutes (just ignore those little hands at the bottom of the door).

Ideally, you need a couple hours or even a day to remember the person you were before you had children.  Go to lunch with your friends or see a movie that has sex, swearing and adult themes.  Get a massage or go for a run.  Have dinner with your significant other and remind each other why you fell in love.  Time alone is time to recharge your batteries.  You should not feel guilty about being away.  In the long run, this will make you a better parent.

Pinterest is not reality

Pinterest is a great tool to find recipes, decorating tips, party ideas etc.  Many women look at this website and begin to feel inferior.  They begin to imagine all good moms make these beautiful meals and plan these elaborate birthday parties with the most imaginative crafts.  You need to look at Pinterest in a different way.  There is an awesome mom out there (just like you) who took a lot of time to make this amazing thing (food, party, craft etc.).  She’s done many things like this before and they didn’t turn out well.  In some cases they were complete disasters.  But, this time everything went right.  In fact, it went so well that she grabbed a camera and took multiple pictures and posted it on Pinterest.  Pinterest is the exception – not the rule.  Very few people would log on to a website and post their epic fails.  Although I bet there would be a lot of people out there who would enjoy looking at that.

Do Not Expect to Lose the Weight Immediately

Yes, I am aware that Heidi Klum was in a Victoria’s Secret fashion show a mere 6 weeks after giving birth to her fourth child.  For the remaining 99.99999999999999999% of us, it takes more time.  Don’t expect to walk out of the hospital in your favorite pair of skinny jeans.  The Dutchess of Cambridge was applauded for wearing a dress that didn’t try to hide the “post baby bump” 24 hours after giving birth to Prince George.  Maybe I’m just a simpleton, but I really didn’t see her dress as her grand statement to all new moms out there.  She probably picked something that she knew would fit but didn’t look too much like maternity clothes.  Let’s be honest, we pretty much want to burn the maternity wardrobe at the end of pregnancy.  But, she did show new moms that the majority of people leave the hospital 8-10 pounds lighter, but we still look pregnant.  It’s going to take some time to lose the weight.  Don’t rush it.  It’s not healthy for you or your baby.  It will come off as long as you are eating healthfully and aren’t leading a sedentary life.  Nursing does help, but the experts seem to say that it takes up to 9 months to get the weight off (it did take that long to put it on).   For me, I was able to fit into some of my pre-pregnancy pants after 6 weeks (they probably didn’t look that good but once you can button that top button – it’s a victory).  Three months later, things are getting closer to normal.  Even though the scale may have a similar number to your pre-pregnancy weight, your body will have shifted around and things may not fit the same.  Welcome to your post pregnancy body.  Embrace it – your body just did something amazing.

If You Feel Depressed – Tell Someone

Post partum depression is real and it can be much more serious than the “baby blues”.  If you feel depressed or have any thoughts of hurting yourself or your child – seek help immediately.  Please know that there is nothing to be ashamed of and there is help out there.

So Here’s the Inspirational Stuff

Words cannot express the amount of love and joy you will experience when this child enters the world.  Even though parenthood isn’t always easy, it will be the best part of your life.  Enjoy every moment.

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