Resilient and Joyful Parenting with the AC/DC Method

By April Hadley from Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness
I have been a parent for just over 14 years. I think that should make me an expert. In fact, if I gave a significant portion of my time and energy to almost any other subject for 14 years straight, I am confident I would feel some measure of competency. But these rules do not seem to apply to parenting. In fact, most of the time, I end up feeling fairly incompetent which is to say I am never 100% sure if I am choosing actions that are helpful to myself or my children. The feeling of “not sure” seems to come with the territory of having 3 kiddos in my life who are constantly growing and changing from their shoe size to their food preferences to their social groups. Each change requires me to start building my competency all over again.

Rather than resist our feelings of incompetency, we can learn how to embrace them with a method I call the AC/DC of parenting (inspired by the heavy metal band AC/DC because everyone knows rock bands and parenting have a lot in common – especially the loud, messy, stinky parts). AC/DC is less a parenting method and more of a foundation upon which we can build the parenting journey. AC/DC has made me a more mindful, resilient, and joyful parent and modeling these attributes to my children is the most powerful gift I can give them on this journey through life.

What is the AC/DC of Parenting?

AC/DC stands for awareness, compassion, do-over, and community. Here is a brief description of each of the 4 main layers of AC/DC along with a couple of practice links to help you get started on your journey.

Awareness: Mindful awareness gives us clarity around our present moment experience. When we have clarity, we can begin to acknowledge when the parenting journey is going well as well as when it is a struggle. It is easier to move into the next layer of AC/DC parenting when we can let go of shame and can be clear about our struggles. Practice: 3-Minute Breathing Break

Compassion: When we are clear about our struggles, we can offer ourselves compassion. The majority of us spend a lot of time beating ourselves up over every perceived parenting mistake. Parenting is hard. We all mess up. Rather than meeting our mess-ups with harshness, we can learn to meet our experience with the soothing touch of self-compassion. Practice: Self-Compassion Break

Do-over: Learning how to do-over is a vital part of the parenting journey. It is also an exquisite practice of self-compassion. Do-overs allow us to stop in the midst of a parenting struggle and begin again. A do-over has three elements: 1) Take responsibility for your actions 2) Ask for permission for a do-over and 3) Wait until everyone is ready for a do-over. A do-over may sound something like this: “I am sorry for yelling at you. I would like a do-over. Please let me know when you are ready.”

Community: We all have our limits as parents. When we ignore our limits, we are likely to become anxious, irritable and angry. Rather than seeing limits as a bad thing, we can learn to view them as a gift nudging us to ask others for help. When I encounter a sticky spot in parenting (such as getting my kids out the door for school), I will ask a friend ahead of time if I can call her when I get stuck. Just knowing I can call helps me feel less helpless.

Start your journey of AC/DC parenting today! And when all else fails, find something that makes you laugh. In that spirit, I leave you with these words: “When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.” -Erma Bombeck

Doula? What’s That?

By Cassie Schultz, Founder of Over The Moon Doula Services LLC

What’s a doula? I get that question a lot and I love answering it! Doulas are professionals trained to provide practical and emotional support to families during pregnancy, labor and delivery and the first few months of a baby’s life. There are many types of doulas, but the most common ones are birth and postpartum. Both birth and postpartum doulas are filling gaps in maternity care by tending to the emotional needs of mothers which might be overlooked by caring but busy healthcare providers.

Birth doulas are actually present for the labor and the delivery of a baby. The support we provide mothers is strictly non-medical; as a popular quote goes “doctors and midwives care for women from the waist down, doulas care for them from the waist up” (source unknown). During labor and delivery the birth doula may assist the birthing mother with comfort measure such as positioning, massage and breathing techniques. We also help you understand options you may not even know you have and talk you through any decisions you are faced with.

You may be wondering, “What about the dad?” When the birthing mother has a partner with her, the doula is there to support the couple and coach the partner to support the mother. Sometimes, the birthing couple has a great rhythm and doesn’t need interruption. During these moments we are able to step back and give you privacy, but you have the peace of mind knowing that we are close by when you are ready for our help again!

People often ask if you have to have a “natural” birth to have a doula. I am happy to tell you that at Over The Moon Doula Services LLC, we work with families in a variety of situations. We help you acquire the knowledge you need to make informed choices and support you in those choices. Are you planning an unmedicated home birth? We can ease the intensity of your contractions with a firm “double hip squeeze.” Think an epidural will be the way to go? We can help you get set up with a peanut ball which could shorten your labor time! Planning a Cesarean? We will help you with calming techniques to make your birth peaceful and joyous.

By now you’re probably thinking, “That all sounds great, but are there real benefits for me and my baby?”

Birth doula support has been shown through research to have many benefits for laboring women including lower rates of cesarean sections and shorter labors. The babies of mothers who had continuous labor support are less likely to have low Apgar scores (source: the evidence for doulas).

Birth doulas typically stay for a few hours after birth to make sure everyone in the family has had their needs met and assist with breastfeeding, if the mother chooses to nurse. One postpartum visit within the first few weeks of the baby’s life is typically provided.

But what after the baby is born? Does doula care have to end with a single postpartum visit from the birth doula? Of course not! Enter the postpartum doula. Postpartum doulas act as guides to coach parents through their journey of postpartum recovery and caring for their newborn (whether you’re having your first baby or your fifth!). Postpartum doulas offer many types of support including: emotional, informational, and practical.

Our emotional support includes really being there for parents. We ask mother’s and fathers how they are feeling and really listen to answer. Are you feeling anything less than pure bliss about the arrival of your baby? It’s all right, you can be honest with us. We understand that parenthood includes and ups and downs. Sometimes these ups and downs are a normal part of the process. Sometimes it’s something more, which is why we screen for mood and anxiety disorders such as depression and lead families to the resources they need for recovery.

We teach parents about baby care. Are you feeling at nervous about diapering, dressing or bathing you new infant? Do you have questions about breast or bottle feeding? What about using your fancy new baby wrap or carrier for the first time? We can help with all of that!

You may be thinking, “All this information and support sounds great, but what if I just need some help?” We’re here for that too! Many parents feel shy about asking for help with basic house tasks like dishes or laundry, but as postpartum doulas that is part of our job! We want to keep everything around you running smoothly so you can focus on caring for yourself and your infant.

Here is one last compelling reason to consider adding a postpartum doula to your care team; research has shown that postpartum doulas also offer many benefits to families including lower rates of postpartum depression and less abuse (source: DONA). 

If you think a doula might be a good fit for your family but want to learn more you can locate a few local doulas and set up free consultations. If you are in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area you can find me and the rest of the Over The Moon team at

Not in Grand Rapids? Other sites that can help you find a doula include Doula Match and DONA

Cassie Schultz is a DONA certified postpartum doula and newly trained birth doula and has a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science. She is the founder of Over The Moon Doula Services LLC. She serves families in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area and has a special interest in supporting families through cesarean birth and recovery and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

Blog: Trust Your Instincts

By Vonnie Drudy, MomsBloom Volunteer

I call them Mama-Wanna-Bes. Also known as your mother, mother-in-law, nanny, babysitter, hair stylist, nail tech, lady behind you in the check-out lane at Meijer…you get the picture. They are the ones who start their sentences with “When my kids were babies…” or “Well, I f I were you…” or “Have you ever thought of trying…” Generally speaking, there is zero malice in their intentions and after all, they have been-there-done-that, so why shouldn’t they share their knowledge, right?

In response to these do-gooders, I have learned to appreciate the subtlety of what I call the SAN technique (Smile And Nod).   Oh, please do not confuse this with condescension, but rather think of it as a way for those who wish to voice their opinions, or share their experiences, to have their moment in the sun, while you practice the SAN technique, taking in what makes sense to you and letting the rest go.

As new moms, we are starving for information. Who, what, where, when, why, how…YES, YES, YES! The temptation is to become a sponge and soak up every drop of Mama-Wanna-Bes’ advice; but what about our own instincts? No one has more questions than a new mom, I mean you are solely responsible for this adorable, drooling, babbling, bundle of joy and it is as scary as it is exhilarating. We can learn to strengthen our own intuition and flex it like a muscle.

But between the Facebook posts, Mommy blogs and What to Expect While You’re (fill in the blank) books, you may feel more nauseous than you did in your first trimester!

Here is some good advice I was once given:

  • Find a Mommy-Mentor – the Mommy you most admire and whose advice you already trust
  • Find a great Pediatrician – the kind where you can hear the smiles in the nurse’s voice when you call to ask about whether peaches or pears would be best to start with
  • Trust your instincts – you know your baby best and you know when there is one more burp left in him or if she hasn’t wet enough diapers today

It has just occurred to me that I may be a considered a Mama-Wanna-Be just by writing this post. So if you found yourself reading this with either a smile or a nod or both….don’t worry, I’m not offended.

*Vonnie Drudy is a Sales Operations/Marketing Analyst for Verizon by day and a freelance writer and MomsBloom volunteer by night. Vonnie’s hobbies include reading, movies, decorating and yoga. Her favorite part of volunteering with MomsBloom is connecting with moms and snuggling with babies, all while waiting for her two college kids to text her back.

Blog: The Best Gift of All ~ Extreme Self-Care

By Vonnie Drudy, Volunteer Extraordinaire

Halloween costumes put away? Check!

First snow fall? Check!

Holiday music on the radio? Check!

Yes, it’s that time again – the season for giving: giving gifts, giving parties, giving to others in the most loving of ways…but have you forgotten someone on your list? Are you giving to yourself?

I know you are probably not the first person on your list (and you may even be the last at times) but remember what those perky flight attendants always advise us to do? That’s right, put on our oxygen mask first! Before the baby, before the significant other, and before Grandma (yes, even Grandma). This is sage advice so why should we limit it to air travel? Think of it this way – if you don’t take care of yourself first, how can you take care of anyone else?

Here are some ways to give a gift to yourself everyday:

  • Nourish: Your body needs good foods and drinks to refuel
  • Rest: Your body needs to rest and recover from each day
  • Connect: Let nature and spirituality refresh you from the inside out
  • Move: Get the blood flowing in any way which feels good to you
  • Relax: Nix the electronics for a while in favor of reading, meditating, and breathing
  • Reach out: We all need daily conversation, laughter and support

Practicing these forms of extreme self-care is not selfish, in fact it’s quite the opposite…it’s a necessity. When you are rested and joyful and at peace, you can afford to share your gifts with others.

When a friend calls for an impromptu play-date, you will be nourished and rested and ready to go. If the neighbor needs you to watch their dog (or even the twins!), you will be relaxed and focused and able to take pleasure in the gift of time you are giving to others. Too often we let ourselves get run-down and lending a hand becomes an unwelcomed burden and we may even resent it.

So, here is my gift to you: I’m giving you permission to give back to yourself. Take a warm bubble bath, stream your favorite music and lock the door! Buy a new pair of yoga pants at whatever size you are now, and wear them while you stretch and move and breathe.   Make a healthy smoothie, get a massage, buy a new lip gloss, get your hair trimmed, take a nap, bake a cake, clean out that junk drawer you fall asleep fretting about (or maybe that’s just me)? Either way, give to yourself that which gives you the most joy and bliss and peace…think of it as your invisible oxygen mask.