Denise is a LCSW and a mama of two. She works professionally at a local hospital with postpartum women and is Unfold's resident therapist. She sees private clients, leads our Pregnancy and Birth Story Circles and facilitates classes and sessions at the studio.
What does work life balance look like to you? Work life balance looks like not taking on more than I can handle. It means having good boundaries around my work so that I still have enough to give to my family, mentally, emotionally and physically. Sometimes that looks like saying no or passing on things that I know will tip me out of balance. This is all a work in progress as I try to grow a business on top of the part-time job. I’m working on being more present which I think helps me be more attuned to when things get too stressful.
How do you make time for self-care? Perhaps because I am a therapist I am inclined to value self-care above so many things. Making time for it becomes a high priority for me. I notice what a lack of self-care and “me” time does to my mood and my ability to give to others and it’s not good.
I love being a mom and my children are my world. However, there are so many other aspects of my identity that are important to me and that I want to connect with. Filling up my own cup helps me be a better mom. I have a supportive husband which really helps in carving out the time for self-care. My network of friends and family has also been amazing in helping us have date nights or time to myself. I’m also big on asking for what I need and asking for help. This has really helped me in meeting my own self care needs.
Mom guilt? It is a dirty word, but do you experience it and how do you deal? Do I experience mom guilt? YES. I don’t know a mom who doesn’t and if there is one out there, she’s a unicorn in my eyes and I want to meet her.
Mom guilt is like an unpleasant guest who keeps showing up uninvited, unannounced and at the worst times. Sometimes she hangs out a little too long but for the most part, I kick her out real quick.
I acknowledge it. I talk it out with someone if that option is available because sometimes it helps to gain perspective from someone who isn’t sitting in it. I work hard to not to let it be the guide in my decision making. If I allow guilt to keep me from meeting up with friends, going on date nights, or taking on new business opportunities that take me away from my girls, ultimately that guilt will be accompanied by some other unpleasant feelings. Resentment, unhappiness, burn out, irritability. That is not going to serve me well in my role as a mom.
Does guilt win me over sometimes? Yes. However, I actively practice self compassion and really think it keeps me grounded. I would never want to guilt another mom over what she chooses to do so I need to give myself that same compassion.
What advice would you give to your younger self? I would tell my younger, insecure and introvert self “you are exactly who you need to be right now. You will be alright. It gets so much better. "
Visit Denise's Website Compassionate Wellness OC