As we settle into the new school year and seek connections in our community, I’m excited to share some tips from my friend Lauren Tetenbaum Dorman, a Scarsdale Mom (who moved during quarantine) and social worker who specializes in women’s issues. Lauren supports women and mothers via therapy and advocacy. Learn more about Lauren from her website or Instagram!
Article by @thecounselaur (Lauren A. Tetenbaum, LMSW, JD, PMH-C)
I work with many mamas and other women to help them feel empowered, supported, and connected. Being a new mom or a mom in a new town can feel especially isolating and overwhelming. Below I offer some Dos & Don’ts to enhance your emotional and mental wellbeing. After more than two years of literal social distancing, we all need community more than ever!
Do Something for Yourself
If you are like many women I know, you’ve spent the last few weeks signing up for or bringing your kids to/from various activities, like music, sports, or chess. But when was the last time you yourself engaged in an activity in which you applied your creativity, developed a new skill, or just had fun? Moms generally do not get as much leisure time as they deserve – or need in order to feel less burned out. It can feel hard to carve out some time for yourself but it’s integral to maintaining a sense of self. Women who prioritize time and activities for themselves feel less lost in their identities and more fulfilled. Plus, taking a class or joining a team or book club are wonderful ways to connect with others with similar interests you may not otherwise meet! For ideas, check out Scarsdale Rec for adult athletics like tennis or pickleball, the Scarsdale Adult School for a wide range of programming including foreign languages, current events, and gardening, or the Scarsdale New Residents Club for various social activities like card games or movie nights.
Don’t Doubt Yourself
Focusing on new or even existing friendships as a mom can feel daunting especially when you have so much to do. It’s common to experience anxiety in various social situations, especially new settings like a new school. But you don’t have to be super extroverted or confident to succeed. Consider the lessons quickly learned by the women in the postpartum moms’ groups I facilitate: no one knows what they are doing and everyone is trying their best. When you set aside judgment of others – and most importantly of yourself – you open yourself up to all kinds of meaningful connections. The woman you met as “Riley’s mom” could end up being the friend who knows exactly what you need after a hard day and jokes with you about whose car has more Goldfish crumbs. Work on identifying and staying true to your values and exercising self-compassion and compassion for others, and you’ll find your community.
Do Something for Others
There are so many easy yet impactful ways to give back to those less fortunate. For example, in collaboration with other volunteer moms, I have led several community service initiatives in the Scarsdale area such as collection drives for sneakers, diapers, holiday gifts, and winter coats for local organizations including 914 Cares (which distributes resources for the 1 in 4 Westchester families living in poverty), the JCCA’s Pleasantville Cottage School (a residential facility for children with behavioral and emotional challenges), and Mott Haven Fridge (a nonprofit offering family-friendly opportunities to bring fresh produce to underserved communities in the Bronx). Doing good is great in so many ways: studies show that volunteering can reduce stress, improve self-confidence, and lead to feelings of life satisfaction and appreciation.
Contact Lauren for more information and strategies!