Summer in Maine can be likened to the joy and light that comes with pregnancy and parenting. The anticipation of things to come, planning, surprises, unexpected pleasures and unscripted moments of the unique period of early parenthood are found within these thawed and blooming months.  We live in a place ripe with outdoor beauty and accessible nature and from an infant’s tiny toes touching the salty waves to a new walker’s wobbly steps on a forest path, the summer sun is sure to lay the foundation for some memorable moments.

However, summer can also bring a new host of worries and concerns for parents. Water safety, sunblock, bug spray, overheating, summer travel, and this year, in particular, a very present emphasis on tick safety. Both professionally and personally, I have heard countless concerns about how to balance safety and fun, as well as many comments such as “I should just keep the baby indoors,” or “I am too scared of the woods this year, we will stick to the playground.”

A few tips for finding that balance:

  1. Acknowledge to yourself how you are feeling without judgment. Self-criticism will distract from the primary emotion you are experiencing and make it harder to address. Simply accept and acknowledge that we are all hard-wired to experience emotion and sometimes this experience is uncomfortable, difficult, or can require further support.
  2. Ask yourself “Is this a fact or a fear?”
  3. Look for evidence to support/refute your worry thought. For example, what evidence is there that something bad is going to happen? How likely is it to happen? Are there alternative things that may happen? What evidence supports that it will not happen?
  4. Think about ways you would handle a situation you are concerned about should it arise-worried about your baby being off of a routine due to summer travel? How will you handle their fussiness? Feel empowered by the knowledge that you have the skills to address your child’s needs, or know how to acquire them. Reassure yourself of this fact regularly and take to time to notice when you do handle something effectively, building your parenting self-esteem.
  5. Become informed about ways to reduce risk, put healthy routines in place, and then move forward with confidence that you have addressed the issue. For example, talk to your doctor about effective ways to prevent tick bites, how to perform a tick check and what to do if you find a tick on your child-versus feeling overwhelmed by fear of tick borne illness.
  6. Engage in some imagery, relaxation, breathing or visualization exercises and return to your fearful thought when you are closer to baseline and reconsider. See the link below for some scripts to do this.
  7. Find a support system and be honest about your fears. Most likely, you will find relief in the knowledge that your experience is common. Use your community as a resource for tips and ideas. Looking for a community? Come to Birth Roots! When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.

Some additional thoughts about parenting fears:
Fear can be an informer, guiding us to know when something doesn’t feel right, alerting us to danger, letting us know a boundary has been crossed, urging us to use caution in an otherwise concerning situation, prompting us to become informed to allow for well thought-out decision-making. However, fear can also be all-consuming, paralyzing, distracting, distort our decision making, fill us with dread, and shake our confidence. It is common to have worry thoughts or nervous feelings, particularly as you make the transition to parenthood. However, if you notice that your fear is impacting your ability to function, or you are experiencing some of the following symptoms, talk to a trusted loved one and your provider, who can help you access some support and resources that may help address postpartum anxiety.

-constant worry
-feeling that something bad is going to happen
-racing thoughts
-disturbances of sleep or appetite
-Inability to sit still
-difficulty completing daily tasks
-physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes and nausea
From Postpartum Support International

MORE RESOURCES:
Classes like Blossoming Newborns or Drop-In Groups like The Nest and Eat, Sleep, Feed can be an essential part of your support plan.
https://www.birthroots.org/register-for-classes/

An article from Parent’s Magazine discussing Postpartum Anxiety:
http://www.parents.com/parenting/moms/healthy-mom/the-other-postpartum-problem-anxiety/

A new study related to Postpartum Anxiety discussed in Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/postpartum-anxiety-might-be-even-more-common-than-ppd_us_57742e48e4b0cc0fa13661c0#

Some simple scripts from a Focus Family Resiliency Training including breathing, visualization, relaxation and imagery to use to manage worry. Includes some that can be done with children if you want to make it a family activity!
http://hprc-online.org/family-relationships/families/managing-emotions/focus-calming-grounding-activities-pdf

Guest Blog by Kristina Burks Halliday, LCSW