Tag Archives: motherhood

Best 5 real strategies to be more calm and less stressed as a parent


I was recently asked by a mom on Facebook for strategies to be more calm and less stressed as a parent. As a parent of twin boys and an older girl all under 5 years old, she is rightfully feeling overwhelmed!!!

So in my reply to her, it occurred to me that there are five real strategies that have made my life so much better (not that things are perfect ALL the time, we still have those days where several days attack me at the same time!):

  1. My default answer is ‘yes’ to any offer of help. Even if I can do it perfectly well myself, it saves me energy and gives me capacity.
  2. I learned how to ask for help myself and not wait to be offered some. And often, it’s not on an exchange basis – I can’t help them directly, but it’s clear that I would help someone else in the future when I get the chance. 
  3. I get the kids to do as much as they can at their age to help – and it’s surprising what they can do – my 18 month old could unload the dishwasher! (yes, there was a broken plate or two at the beginning, but they really learn fast). 
  4. The one book that helped me hugely was “How to behave so your kids would too…” – see previous blog about main messages http://blog.mybesthelper.com/2012/12/10/secrets-of-a-child-whisperer/
  5. Last but not least, asking other parents for advice helps.. all kind of tips and tricks that make their lives better. I have accumulated tons of these over the years! 

And, what strategies have helped you? Namaste!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, Mother of three, CEO myBestHelper


Parenting is a serious (and funny) business!

Great quote from our Pinterest page…

Parenting is serious business, but one must not take it too seriously, and the occasional poke on what we do and say helps. We love books like Paul Reiser’s Couplehood, followed by Familyhood, then Babyhood – so many great moments that transcend specifics and tap into universal experiences we all share.

I recently came across a video series on Youtube that did a great job of capturing the experience of parenting a toddler – the sweetness and tenderness balanced with the “I can’t believe what is happening” and “Now, what do I do?”. “Conversations with my 2yr old” went viral on Youtube this summer with 9 million views and no wonder why!  – it’s smart, and real, and – really really funny.

The idea is hilarious: real conversations a dad has with his two-year old daughter, with a grown man reenacting the daughter’s role. Superbly delivered and edited, these 2-3 min webisodes are irresistible.

If you are not hooked from episode one, email me or comment here – I have not found a person yet who initially is a bit skeptical about the concept, then watches a video in the series and just raves about it.

Beyond the fun, why the series works is that it helps capture an authentic moment from both the perspective of the parent and the child. We have all lived these moments, and now we know we are not the only ones!

Please share – what parent blogs and sites make you laugh?

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, Mother of three, CEO myBestHelper


I must learn to love the fool in me

I must learn to love the Fool

On some days, when life is far from the perfection we had imagined, when things breakdown, delays pile up and unexpected tasks overwhelm, it’s good to consider how this can be a good thing. Messy is not the opposite of happy, hurried is not the opposite of success.

Our own expectations often trip us up. On days when we are too busy to even think properly, we expect somehow that our abilities will remain unaffected and that everything movie-like will work according to the plan. So – answer honestly – how many days in the last month has your day gone exactly the way you expected it? Most people are at 30 to 50% of happiness with how their day evolved. So if that is true why are we setting us up with false expectations that only lead to disappointments?

A different way is needed. We need to adjust our attitudes so a certain minimum standard and consider all other achievements of the day as bonus. For example, a day is super successful if 1) you wake up on time, 2) manage to find breakfast food and coffee and 3) have the right clothes to wear for the occasion. At this point, a pause to celebrate success would be appropriate – 100% achieved already! Everything else that is good that happens that day becomes additional points beyond that – you can get 120% or 150% or even more than 200%!!!

And – anytime you get frustrated with your far from 10 out of 10 performance – either embrace your inner Fool the way Dr. Rubin recommends in this quote, or consider what advice you would give in the exact same situation if this were not you, but someone you loved – like your sister, brother or your child. Or how you would react if someone else said to a person you love the things you are thinking about your performance and constantly saying to yourself.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, mother of three, CEO and Co-founder myBestHelper

Q & A: Is it safe to drink coffee while pregnant?


This is one of the most frequent questions women ask at the beginning of pregnancy: It’s clear that smoking and alcohol are to be stopped, but what about coffee?

Motherisk  is a program ran out of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and helps answer such questions for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. They recently reviewed available evidence on the thorny question of coffee consumption.

While it’s not exactly clear if there is a direct link when higher amounts are consumed, all evidence shows that at levels of less than 300mg/day (1-2 cups of coffee) there is no increased risk to becoming or staying pregnant, nor to the baby itself. There was neither neurodevelopmental impact nor disrupted sleep patterns in babies of moms who stayed below that level of daily intake. Just be careful as coffee made by a barista can contain almost twice the caffeine of a home-made cup.

So what about that Mother and Child Norwegian study published earlier this year and reprinted by newspapers, alarmingly indicating that the coffee even in small amounts can cause low birth weight and prolonged labor? They did follow almost 60,000 women over 10 years and isolated coffee’s impact from other harms such as tobacco and alcohol. That said they showed that “women whose caffeine intake was 100mg a day (equivalent to ~1 cup) had birth weights of 21 to 28g less than babies of women who didn’t have as much“. If you consider that the North American average is 3.4 kg and most term babies are typically in the range of 2.7–4.6 kg, this difference has no meaning. Nor is the longer pregnancy term that was reported in the papers of any significance – unless you think that 5 to 8 hours longer matter over the 40 weeks of being pregnant! They do have some interesting insights otherwise, so worth a look if you are curious about immunity and autism for example.

Tea has about one third of the caffeine content of coffee and so do cola type drinks.  Decaf coffee has the same amount as hot chocolate – both have about 1/30th of the amount of caffeine contained in a cup of coffee. The thing to consider with decaf coffee and diet colas is the unknown safety of the chemicals used to decaffeinate the coffee or the substances used as replacement for sugar. You should however definitely AVOID sweeteners that contain saccharin and cyclamates such as Sweet ’N Low and Sugar Twin.

And what about herbal teas? While clearly caffeine free, not much has been done to study the safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding of any substances they may contain.  No government body regulates teas and supplements either, so you don’t know what kinds of contaminants may be present. Some have known medicinal properties, such as St John’s wort.

It is generally considered to be safe to have 2-3 cups per day of the following teas: citrus peel, ginger, lemon balm, linden flower, orange peel and rose hip (note: linden flower is not safe if you have a heart problem). Some herbal teas however, such as chamomile for example, while soothing and perceived as harmless are known to be UNSAFE for expecting mothers. Ginger tea seems to be safe as although data on safety of ginger is lacking up to 1000 mg of ginger is taken through normal diet in some cultures, so the recommended dose is up to 1000 mg per day. It can help with nausea and vomiting. You can search the Motherisk website http://www.motherisk.org for specific information or send them a question.

And of course if you have ANY questions, be sure to check with your healthcare providers. If they give you any attitude about you asking many questions, the advice I give to all my patients is “Ask away: It’s your body and your baby, and if something bad happens that you wanted to ask about and did not, it will be hard to forgive yourself! Part of our work is not just to diagnose, but also to help you figure our whether something you are concerned is a problem or not.”

The second most common question I get after I answer the first one above is what did I do when I was pregnant and breastfeeding? “Yes” to small amounts of coffee, black, green or ginger tea. Personally, chose a “No” to decaf, artificial sweeteners or other herbal teas. And of course, as recommended – a definite “No” to smoking and alcohol.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, mother of three, CEO and Co-founder myBestHelper

What kind of a parent are you?

This poem touched my heart and my mind – I hope you like it too!

From our Pinterest board on crafts for kids

What kind of a parent are you? (~Author Unknown~)

“I got two A’s,” the small boy cried.
His voice was filled with glee.
His father very bluntly asked,
“Why didn’t you get three?”

“Mom, I’ve got the dishes done,”
The girl called from the door.
Her mother very calmly said,
“Did you sweep the floor?”

“I’ve mowed the grass,” the tall boy said,
“And put the mower away.”
His father asked him, with a shrug,
“Did you clean off the clay?”

The children in the house next
door seem happy and content.
The same thing happened over there,
And this is how it went:

“I got two A’s,” 
the small boy cried,
His voice was filled with glee.
His father very proudly said,
“That’s great, I’m glad you told me.”

“Mom, I’ve got the dishes done,”
The girl called from the door.
Her mother smiled and softly said,
“Each day I love you more.”

“I’ve mowed the grass,” the tall boy said,
“And put the mower away.”
His father answered with much joy,
“You’ve made my day happy.”

Children deserve a little praise
For tasks they’re asked to do.
If they’re to lead a happy life,
So much depends on you.

A reminder and a thank you

Alex’s comment: I have always liked this blog but the last two posts have been just beyond marvelous. One is a poem to motherhood. The second is a poem to the community of people who come together to support parents through the peaks and valleys of the journey. Good enough parenting is hard to pull off, mostly because of the crazy pressures we self assign to us.

Today, my third child – a toddler screamed as if in mortal danger as I was leaving her at Buddings – a place she normally loves. What happened? She grew up and suddenly became more aware of separation. Or maybe we had just spent an awesome holiday together and she did not want to separate from mom. One will not know, except experience with the older two made me know that she will quickly settle down especially if I firmly and lovingly said goodbye and did not prolong the agony by attempting to reason or calm her down.
Indeed, back two hours later, she greeted me with a smile and proud “I did not cry mommy“. And then started crying, as she didn’t wanted to leave Buddings! Sigh…

But back to the point I wanted to make – I spent the two hours with a divide between my head and heart – the former fully convinced that she was OK, the latter shaking with worry about her. Elizabeth Stone said “Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” – all I can say is “So true!”.

So here is to posts like Kiran’s (the re-blog above) that comfort us on this rollercoaster experience. Virtual hug to all moms (and sincere kudos to all sitters, nannies, ECE profs and teachers who help guide our kids through these experiences)!!!!

friendship quote

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, mother of three CEO and Co-founder myBestHelper

Mummy Says...

This terrifying, roller-coaster that is motherhood has taken me on a wild ride this week. I’ve been living in The Haze (that place where sleep-deprived parents hang out but don’t notice each other because they’re so tired), there’s been the curve ball thrown that was my son getting bitten at daycare, and there’s been the general craziness of life with 2 under 20 months.

But, dearest friends, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons, you have reminded me this week that it is not a wild ride that must be experienced alone. Motherhood, you reminded me, is hard on us all. So thank you to those of you who have laughed with me, cried with me, commiserated with me, advised me when I asked and supported me when I didn’t.

Motherhood is hard, it is bloody hard and tiring and exhausting and it fills you with fear and and worry and self-doubt…

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