[Episode 17] Self-care for Mom

Between a new baby to care for, a house to run, and sometimes older siblings running around, it is easy to feel like your needs are always the ones not being met.

In Episode #17 of Moms Talks with a French Accent, La Petite Creme moms Fanny (postpartum doula), Cecile (engineer), and Varisa (pediatrician) explore the topic of self-care. What does it mean? Why is it important? And how can you get some much-deserved "me time" starting today?

(full text transcript below the video)


Moms Talk with Dr. Varisa Perlman [Episode #17]: Self-care for Mom

Cecile: Hello!

Fanny: Hi, everyone!

Cecile: Welcome. This is Cecile from La Petite Creme.

Fanny: This is Fanny.

Cecile: Welcome, welcome to Episode #17 of Moms Talk with a French Accent. We're happy to be here today with you.

Fanny: We're waiting a little bit for people to connect. Hi.

Cecile: Hello, hello. Welcome.

Fanny: Thank you for joining.

Cecile: Thank you, thank you. Today we are going to talk about self-care.

Fanny: Yeah.

Cecile: And that's an important topic for all the moms and moms-to-be out there, all those professionals. You know that self-care is key. So let's add our favorite pediatrician to the talk.

Fanny: She's coming.

Cecile: She's coming in right now. Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining. Hello, hello. Hello.

Fanny: Hi, Varisa.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Hi, how are you?

Cecile: Hi, Varisa. We're good. It's good to see you.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Good to see you. Trying out a new angle.

Cecile: Oh, okay. We love that new angle. [laughs] We love how you're playing with your different angles with each episode. Hi, Veronica. Thank you for joining.

So as we said right before you got in, so today is Episode #17 of Moms Talk with a French Accent, and the topic is self-care. So before we dig into it or jump into it, why don't we go around and introduce ourselves for people who are joining for the first time? Varisa, do you want to start?

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Sure. Yes. I'm Dr. Varisa Perlman. I'm a pediatrician for the last 25 years, and I'm currently working as a health coach in New York. Formerly their pediatrician in Miami. So I'm so glad to join and hang out with you guys.

Cecile: Yes, it is.                   

Fanny: So I'm Fanny. I'm the co-founder of La Petite Creme with Cecile. I'm also a mom of two kids. My younger one is two years old. My oldest one is five years old. And our company is based in Miami.

Cecile: And I'm Cecile. I'm the other half of La Petite Creme. I'm from France, as you may be able to figure out by some magic trick. And yeah, we thought we would start this talk to honestly talk to other parents about how it feels to be a mother, the challenges of it, some of the taboos, and hopefully add a little French flavor to it because Varisa pointed out one day that apparently, we do a few things differently in France compared to here. So we thought, why not just bring our different influences to the talk and maybe bring conversation and food for thought for people who are in the same situation.

So today we're talking about self-care.

Fanny: Yeah.

Cecile: And that's a topic that is very important to us because we feel like taking care of yourself is the best way to take care of others. But very close to that, when you are a mother, it feels like all of a sudden you want to take care of everybody else. You have to take care of everybody else. But you also have that incline to start taking care of people that you never took care of before. [laughs] And that is sometimes overwhelming and taking over on your own self. So it's a line that is hard to cross.

I was actually on social media this morning as I was doing my morning scroll, and I'm part of a few parenting groups, and I was reading this message from a mother who said— And she felt like she had to be anonymous to talk about that, which I think was telling a lot. And she said, "My kid is 15 months old, and I can't seem to—like I wake up with them. I spend my day chasing them around," her words, "and trying to attend to them and make sure everything is in order. And by the time I put them to bed, I'm so exhausted that I fall asleep with them. And then my day is over. And I feel like I should be doing more. I should take care of myself, but I just can't."

And she was asking for advice. She was so desperate to get some kind of input, which I thought was the perfect timing for our talk today.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: That's when you wrote in there, "Well, we are having a talk just on this at 3 o'clock. #selfcare." [laughs]

Cecile: Exactly.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: I mean, I think this is such a good topic. Two things to think about. One is that we talk a lot about cultural differences was something that you brought up. I think this topic is actually a generational topic, too. I think that there was a certain amount of shame placed—I think that this is where we're hearing a lot of this from our mothers, where if you were ever to do something for yourself, you were considered selfish, that you weren't a good mother. And selflessness was the defining term for what is a great mother of the past generation.

Well, as that whole generation—I don't know how your mothers are, but my mother's pretty burnt out. [laughs] She's really, you know. And it's that kind of thing where it just isn't sustainable for your whole life to be so selfless in the sense that you just don't replenish the well, you don't restock the vending machine, as I say. And in many ways, when you don't do that, you just can't be present in the way that you really know.

So this is the first generation, I feel like, where we're really trying to, like you said, talk about taboos, open things up, take things out of the packaging, and say, "What does it really mean to be a good parent?" And I think a big part of being a good parent is being a happy person, which is something that I really found consistently as a pediatrician that the parents who I felt were the most successful were the ones who said, "We do make it a priority to talk to each other, to have a good partner, to have good people around us, to work on positive influences so that we can model for our kids positive relationships." And I think that that's a high bar to go to.

Right now, I'm just thinking as we're sitting there, because I want to ask you the question. I don't know the answer for myself. For the two of you, all of us are working parents, and all parents are working, but just scattered, all over the place. What is one thing that you did that was only for yourself today?

Fanny: Today? Oh.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs] You go first. You go first.

Cecile: Okay, so it's the perfect timing for this topic because Fanny and I have to admit something.

Fanny: I was like, "It's a lot."

Cecile: So we are privileged enough to have our family overseas, and in the summer, we ship our kids for two months out there.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs]

Cecile: So this morning in particular or today, we've been doing a lot for ourselves. Like we had breakfast.

Fanny: I started a run by myself. With my husband actually. We were able to-

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Oh my gosh!

Fanny: -take time for us together.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs]

Fanny: It's even better. And I drink my coffee with a silent, quiet, clean house. And a long shower. What else? A lot. Everything about me.

Cecile: Yes. If you're lucky to remove the kids from the equation, then all of a sudden, you realize you have a ton of time, which yesterday, I was actually noticing that. I came back from work as usual, and I got home, and I'm like, "My goodness, I have a lot of hours between the time I got home and the time I go to bed. I have plenty of time. Where did the time usually go?" I can actually sit for an hour and be okay with it.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Is that what you did? What did you do last night?

Cecile: I just sat down and watched TV and had food without having to feed other people, and it felt lovely. It was wonderful.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: It's luxurious.

Cecile: It is.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: I mean, I remember being—I brought both kids to work, and then I also worked. It was crazy as a pediatrician. I was working with my mom, and I remember each pregnancy and birth, I had teeth that just fell out. They just fall out. All of a sudden, like, "Oh, look, there's my tooth." Literally. We talk about sacrificing as a parent. I would sacrifice parts of my teeth, which meant I had to see the dentist.

And I remember sitting in the dentist's office, in the waiting room and reading a magazine, with a whole pile, the whole pile waiting for me. It wasn't like one magazine. She had like 20 magazines. And I'm reading. And I remember at one point the nurse was so apologetic. She said, "Oh, I'm so sorry, she's running behind." And I was like, "Do you see children?" [laughs]

Fanny: [laughs] It's okay, I can wait another hour.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs] I'm fantastic. But it's amazing. You know, we talk about things as being, it has to be some kind of luxury. No, it can be just as simple as, again, having basic needs met, like having a cup of coffee, being able to have a conversation straight through with your husband.

Fanny, I was just thinking last week, because I knew that you guys had a schedule where the kids were going. And God bless Fanny, but when we have these meetings, there's a couple yawns. Fanny's kids are still of the younger age. And I remember, before I even knew, and I'm thinking to myself, "Wow, it's been 45 minutes in the meeting. Fanny hasn't yawned once. Wow!" And when you said, "My kids are not—" Oh, that's why. [laughs]

Fanny: Yeah, that's what it is.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: That's why. But it's amazing how we just have a hard time meeting even some basic needs so that it feels luxurious when we actually meet them. And that's the part that I think has to be—we have to sit with that. We have to take responsibility for that because it is a conscious effort. There has to be a conscious effort.

Cecile: I want to jump on the word "effort" because yes, the previous generation wasn't as inclined to take care of themselves, but I feel like now, there is a whole new tendency where you feel like you have to take care of yourself on a different level as a woman and a mother, which is now adding more pressure that you feel like you have to do it right. And sometimes it may feel like another constraint, or like, "Oh, I have to be a good mother. But I also have to be happy. I have to find time to take this shower." And sometimes it conflicts together where you're like, "Okay, it's hard enough to care for a child. Now I have to be in charge of an actual self-care plan for myself?" It's too much as well, right?

Dr. Varisa Perlman: And I think one of the things that can be actually very much helping is—and I'm going to speak about this over and over again, which I think is also something that the past generation really didn't understand—or not even ashamed, but weren't almost given permission to, is the idea of boundaries and saying that I—it's interesting because it's as if demands have gone up. Because we are like participating in a lot of this performative parenting, which I talk about all the time, in this idea of like, "Let's put something on Instagram. Let's make sure something looks pretty to everybody." We're given this pressure to do more with our kids.

Our parents had no problem with literally ignoring us for like eight hours. In many ways, they didn't talk about it, but they took their time because they were kind of like, "I'm supposed to entertain my kid?" That generation, they didn't entertain us. I don't know how your parent—my mom was almost to the point where I was like, "I need to call social services on my mom," because my mom would literally drop us off in a room in the office and be like, "I'll see you when I see you." [laughs]

Cecile: It was more participative, right? You would tag along to what the parent's plan was. And if it happened to be child-focused, which was rarely the case, then good. Otherwise, you were just like-

Fanny: You follow and that's it.

Cecile: -trying to find something fun out of a situation, like waiting for your parents to have meetings, whatever, and just sit in the waiting room and do something silly.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. I don't know what I was doing with my day, you know? But I literally spent hours in my mom's office. And now you talk to people and they're like, "Well, I have to bring them to Spanish, and I have to bring them to hockey, and I have to bring them to this lesson," and it's like, "No, actually, you put that on yourself." Not for nothing, you made that yourself.

So in many ways, this is where the boundaries word comes again, where it's that kind of thing where it's like—Yes, I totally agree with you, Cecile that I'm not trying to add to your plate. I'm going to argue that you have put things on your plate that you don't need. And I'm not talking about getting that two-hour manicure. I'm talking about when you unschedule your day and you let your kids play on their own, big idea, then you go to the kitchen and you force yourself to sit and enjoy that cup of coffee and be present for that cup of coffee. Not like, "Oh, I can't. I gotta go do this." It requires all of it.

And yes, that's five minutes. That's five minutes, but I'm gonna tell you that five minutes of being present in your space and doing something that is like something I wanted to do so I'm going to do it, kind of luxurious. It's gonna feel awesome. It's gonna feel great. And it just doesn't have to be, but I think that people are always thinking of ways to throw stuff on their plate. I'm talking about removing things from your plate where, like, "Oh, I have to make sure that my kid has six play dates a week. Otherwise, they're gonna be a social nightmare." No, you put that on yourself. That's actually just not true. That is actually not true.

And the more that we can distance and feel that we're following our instinct versus reflexively doing what everyone else is doing.

Cecile: And everybody else also wants us to do. I think one big aspect is to be able to say no.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes.

Cecile: Like no to your children, which is hard because they are very demanding from the very early age of crying when they want to eat. But then afterwards you just become very attending to them. So when you say, "Okay, I want to eat now. I want to do this now." Just being able to stop yourself and say like, "No. 10 minutes." [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah.

Cecile: And just be comfortable with that and say, "Okay, it's going to be on my timeline because you're safe. You're not going to be in danger in the next 10 minutes. So now it's just my time." And the no is hard to bring back once you have a kid I found.

Fanny: Yeah.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Right. And realizing that that no is just as important as—is actually more important to me than the yeses because kids also need the boundaries to hear the no because much of life is hearing no. It's that kind of thing where when we talk about rules or laws of the land, it's mostly like things you can't do. It's not really a big list of what you can do. And so hearing the no is something that—we need to know the boundaries.

I would argue that it's not anything. It's no shade to your kid if they're demanding because they're just trying to see how far they can go. They want to know how far they can push.

Cecile: And there is no harm in asking. I could ask Fanny, "Can you give me $1,000?"

Fanny: Nope.

Cecile: [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs] Yeah, exactly. Why not? This is what I call the manifesting. I'm going to manifest. I would like $1,000. No harm in asking. But it's at that boundary where you say no. Why should we feel guilt for that? So while on one hand, we are starting to talk about self-care, we're still in the in-between generation where we don't quite know how to do it.

And so this is the part that I think is—so I've just come across—my husband's gonna cringe because it's just another TikTok thing that I found, but basically, it was someone who was talking about what is the mechanism of people pleasing? Why are you a people pleaser? And for him, he would argue that people always say that it was just me being selfless, like I'm just being a selfless person. I like to please other people.

And he was like, "No, it's not that simple." It's actually from the beginning because somewhere along the way, in the very beginning, frankly, someone just didn't feel the need to validate you, to care for you, and said, "Hey, tolerate it. You gotta please me." And so with the idea that it was the good thing to do, it was the right thing to do, you're a good kid when you do that, when you people please, and this will be good for your life. It's unclear what's gonna be good for your life, but it's gonna be good. So you continue doing it with the idea that, "I don't need to meet my needs. I need to meet other people's needs." Thinking that maybe somebody else will treat me like that. Someone will give that to me.

That's just as foolish as asking for $1,000. This is basically like giving $1,000 to all these people and being like, "They're going to pay me back. I know." Even when you say it, you're like, "That doesn't make any sense. Why would anyone just randomly pay you?" And it makes no sense. It gives no avenue to your agency. It gives no value to having your needs met.

So his point is that a lot of times, we're never taught as a very young child how to get our needs met. We're just told to be people pleasers. And then flash forward, we're adults now, still in that same mindset, and yet we don't know how to have our needs met. This whole conversation is about how to get your needs met. And we are not talking about fancy needs. I mean, some of us are just talking about being able to pee and finish and get out of the bathroom without having to do something else. When did this happen?

Cecile: Yeah, sometimes it's as basic as regaining control of your brain. So there is this one thing that I want to debunk for people who are watching because I've heard a lot about it when I was in my early motherhood phase about meditation. And I had that whole stigma about meditation that you have to be sitting on a pillow with like noises and gongs and stuff like that. Well, I learned recently that meditation is just a state of removing anything from your brain and just concentrating on something very cyclical and that you always have with you, which is your breathing and just thinking about, "Oh, I'm inhaling, oh, I'm exhaling." Very, very simple.

And you were talking about the cup of coffee. If you manage to have even just two minutes of focusing on something that doesn't bring you thoughts and just like appease the thought for two minutes, that gives a buffer to avoid everything from collapsing. And had I known that and heard that when my kids were younger, I would have probably be less intimidated by the whole like, "Let's meditate."

I felt like meditation was a whole new thing that I had to learn and acquire and be like, "Oh my goodness, that's gonna be a whole new set of gear." I don't know, I have this thing where like meditating is not for me, but it's really just a pause, like a silence in your speech. And I really encourage you to look into it this way, to have moment where you can just breathe, and then you can continue walking that path.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Well, this is something we talk a lot about. I always say that if I could work in the world of regret, which I try not to work in that world of regret, but if I could do it all over again, I would tell my younger self, "Just be present. Just find moments to be present, whether it be with your kids." I mean, a lot of times we see people at the park with their kids, but they're not sitting there looking at the sky, looking at their kid, looking at the leaves, they're looking at their phone 'cause they're like, "Oh my gosh." So they're not present really.

And so we fight not only to be present with our kids, but even with ourselves. Hearing yourself breathe, it's amazing how awful we breathe. It's amazing how distracted we are to a basic human function. Sometimes I like exercise because I'm so focused on like my legs hurting or myself breathing that I actually forget any other thoughts that was actually bothering me before. It's like this weird unloading that I think was placed on this earth from the beginning, but we just always forgot.

So I agree with you, take out the word. It's so intimidating. I know I would try these different apps. There are these apps and then they would play the music and they're like, "Just sit there for 20 minutes." I had to tell you it was the most—I felt like I was crawling out of my skin. Literally, it was like all the worst thoughts in my mind were coming in and I was just like, "Was this the purpose? I'm not really getting more relaxed."

And I'll be honest with you, as someone who occasionally was able to travel to France and have a wonderful time, one of the things I loved was that I felt like the French, in the way of meals, they really valued being present. There were elements of that, that I grew up as a family that would eat lunch, fast food in the car. And my parents did have meals at night, but they didn't always value every meal. Dinner was valued, but the rest of it was up in arms.

I think in a busy world, which we all are in, that shower— [laughs] I love Fanny's like, "It wasn't a short shower. It was a long shower." The fact that the duration of it was so stunning [laughs] tells you how we're usually moving.

Fanny: Yeah.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Again, it's not materialistic. Again, there's a whole industry. The US is very good at capitalism. Between the apps and self-care days, these are the things that you need to do, buy this for self-care and all this stuff. But in the end of the day, that's not what's going to feed you to keep going.

Cecile: With each stuff comes the constraint to buy the stuff, to have it with you, to have it charged, to have it in the right place, to not lose it, to have your account rate, all that stuff is adding more load when you want to just have less.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Correct.

Cecile: So doing something that is just closing your eyes and count to 25 [laughs] it's like your brain has been doing something that's useless and that was easy without any tool. That can be sufficient.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Well, again, going back to the original idea of taking stuff off your plate as a mode of self-care as opposed to putting stuff on your plate. In meditation, which is definitely more of an Eastern philosophy, one of the huge tenets of Buddhism is that the more that you have, the more that you want. And it's that whole like less is more and this whole concept that when you have more stuff, almost like more energy in your room, in your space, you just can't be present. It's distracting. And our life has become definitely very distracting. Life has become very distracting.

Cecile: Especially when you have a newborn or when you just have kids because they tend to—

Fanny: Fill the space.

Cecile: Exactly.

Fanny: Your time.

Cecile: They say nature doesn't like emptiness. Well, kids have this tendency to just fill any gap you can see anywhere. So they would they would take that attention. So unless you push back to say, "Hey, I need my room to breathe," literally, they're just going to invade everything, right?

Dr. Varisa Perlman: They do. They do. Which, again, I don't blame them. That's their job. But at the same time, I think that we have to understand we model for them just as much. That is the main way we teach our children. And I think that we can do a better job of just not bringing more into their space. I had this mom, she was pretty intense, but she would literally go into the toy room and she would pack up half of the toys just randomly, throw them into a box, and bring them into the basement, hide them. And then maybe two or three months, she would just switch the toys. [laughs]

And I felt like that was really wonderful and like ingenious because honestly, in many ways, they didn't miss it. They didn't know what they had left. They didn't really care. Whatever was in front of them, they played with. So in some ways, decluttering—again, taking stuff off your plate—is actually an incredible world of self-care. Because again, think less is more.

We have a closet. I feel like as everyone was getting bigger houses, we kept getting smaller houses. It just was the way that we were. And so we're now in this apartment. For my stuff that I hang up, I have a bar. [laughs] There's one bar. And when that bar makes it hard that I can't take stuff off the bar that easily, I start donating. And I just look at stuff and I'm like, "What have I not—"

So I remember our friend a long time ago, she had been living in an apartment, and I was living in houses. Whenever she's gonna buy something, she's thinking, “Well, what am I gonna donate?" It was a one-to-one exchange. She was like, what's coming in is gonna—And I have to say that I feel like in many ways when you have those moments of being present, you start to realize you don't need very much.

So start thinking of ways to declutter your head. [laughs] Think of ways to declutter your life, declutter your days. We talk about unscheduling.

Cecile: Your entourage as well. You have people that just suck everything out of you. Yes. Even if they mean well, it's just too demanding.

Fanny: Too intense.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Declutter energy. And I'm going to always plant this, because in many ways, what I found, honestly—it's funny because people always talk about people are selfish. And I'm going to tell you that parents, if I tell them, "Do something so your kids will go to Harvard," they're like, "We're going to do it. We're going to do it." They're the most selfless. Even something that is annoying to them, they'll do it to help their kids succeed. I haven't met a parent that wasn't like that, frankly, which is a good thing, which is why I love pediatrics, because I think it makes people better people. [laughs] They're not as selfish as they could be in their basic life.

Self-initiated learning. Basically so bored that you've got to figure things out on your own is actually the greatest predictor for success. So the more that you take out of your kid's life—So I'm going against all of that performative parenting. I'm going against that more is better. I'm actually just saying less is more. The more that you can simplify everybody's life and give them space, schedule and space, that they can have their own fun, figure out their own fun, the more successful they are.

Cecile: That's when we'll dig for the pediatrics recommendation here. What age group or age phase is a good start for that? Because you're not gonna let a newborn sit there and be like, "Enjoy yourself," or will you? [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. I mean, have you seen what—I mean, when Babies R Us was around, I mean, people literally—you're like, "Where's the baby?" I see all the baby toys. It is very tempting. And then you have these baby showers and you get all these presents. I don't think it's a problem where people will have nothing for their kids. [laughs]

And if you've seen from the minute they're six months old, you could give them a spoon and they could spend the whole day with that. But yet we don't because we're afraid that like, "Well, my friend says that this toy will make them smarter." "My friend says that this toy is gonna make them brighter." No, actually, just give them the spoon. Just give them the spoon. Let's go see which kid goes to Harvard. [laughs]

Cecile: I mean, it's a joke, but it does make it feel better to—You're right, that race to the higher level of, "My kid is gonna be the one who succeeds because I'm planting things right now." It's very deep. You see it in the choice of school, in the choice of activities, in the choice of—I don't know if there are any studies that show that it's not related.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes.

Fanny: And I think you put a lot of pressure and you have a lot of expectations on your kids, which—I mean, maybe you won't say it, but pretty sure they will feel it, like you have done everything for them so they have to succeed.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: I'm going to do everything for them. You see how it's like more is more. More is more.

Cecile: Well, probably only a certain percentage of kids can even achieve going to Harvard because of capacity within. You cannot transform an apple into a pear. I feel like we talked about it before where there must be a path already for them. So if they're attracted to something that has nothing to do with what Harvard has to teach, they can be very happy and fulfilled with something has nothing to do with it.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: I guess I'm just being facetious about Harvard because obviously, I don't think that is the only way that people will succeed. But I think that Fanny, you bring up a really good point that you're being told, you even heard in the phrasing that I've done everything for my kids. Whereas like doing everything for your kids is supposed to be this guaranteed path to their happiness. When I think about happiness and success for my kids, I mean like happy in what they're doing for their job, happy with the people around them, love life, that to me is success, not even how much money they make. Just happy where they are.

And that is a journey because you've got to figure out what you want to do. But one of the biggest characteristics, again, of happiness, and especially for today's kids, where we created a lot of cushions. We've literally raised all of our kids with these big bumpers down the bowling alley. Not many of us are letting it go, which we should because in many ways, the resilience, the ability to withstand things that are uncomfortable, is actually an incredible marker to that happiness.

And that doesn't have to do with if you're an apple or a pear. Apples and pears can both be resilient. [laughs] It doesn't matter.

Cecile: Yeah, exactly.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: But resilience is something that when you're all cushioned up and your parents are doing everything for you and arranging you, bringing you everywhere and everything is being orchestrated for you, but there really isn't that time for you to run and then fall, figure out you're probably not that good at running, maybe I'll be better at crawling. That self-discovery is just never happening. And that confidence is not happening. So now you're sitting there, you're 22, and you're like, "I don't even know what I can do by myself. Everything has been orchestrated with my parents. I don't really know." And that's a really awful feeling.

That lack of confidence is just, I think, a contributing factor. And there's been several articles on this now as we are able to look into this generation of kids with incredible amounts of anxiety. Because frankly, they never built that confidence. And I mean, again, I don't think our parents knew that that was what the case was. But when they left us out in the yard for hours on end and we fell and we did things that were probably pretty stupid and we got injured. Honestly, we learned.

Cecile: And we build up on that getting injured because you don't get injured the same when you're two, three years old climbing something that is like table height compared to when you start doing crazy when you're 15 and given the key to a car. So it's also you're gradually getting to like, "Oh, I got hurt when I was 2 doing that. [laughs] Now that I'm 4, I'm probably gonna have a better judgment."

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Right. And just a little bit of that learning, little bits of learning means that when you get to the point where we are physically probably not with you anymore, there is this internal sense of self that is the resilience that's gonna actually allow you to experience the ups and downs of life and put things in perspective. And I think we really don't realize how as we swung the pendulum, we went from the pendulum where we felt like our parents didn't take care of us at all, left us to the wolves, which literally wasn't, but you know, and then we swung at the other end where we're gonna do everything for them. We wanna do everything. Otherwise, we're not a good parent. We swung the pendulum, then create a bunch of kids who were like, "How do I live?"

I feel like a lot of people are just trying to swing that pendulum right to the middle, where there are gonna be moments where you're on your own, when you're a very young kid and there are going to be moments where, "Okay, I will help you," or "We'll work on this together." But any extreme in my experience doesn't really work. Life doesn't exist on those extremes. Life exists towards the center. There's elements of both that are very good.

We're not talking about self-care to the extent where your children aren't fed [laughs] where you're like, "I need to go to Vienna for two weeks. Deal with it." But at the same time, we really don't want a whole generation of martyrdom parents, particularly mothers are particularly wonderful at martyrdom. My mother is still excellent [laughs] at being a martyr where like, "I did everything for you." I think that the well of resentment gets overflowing. It's just too much resentment. I think. I can still hear it in her voice.

My parents will be like, "Oh, we never went to dinner ourselves without you as children." And I'm like, "I am like 50 years old. Am I supposed to be feeling guilty about this forever? I never told you not to go out to dinner with me." I don't know why they have to keep bringing it up. But again, that was how they demonstrated how much they cared. That generation, it wasn't giving your kids more. It was the more selfless you were. Sacrifices.

Cecile: You mentioned something about the culture difference. And I know you refer a lot to the French culture and what you see as being more detached from it. There are a couple of things that we were talking about last week together, is that when you're in France, during the summer, they have those summer camp, but they're like sleep away summer camp. There is local summer camp, but everybody grow with this thing of colony, which is like you ship your kid somewhere. It could be like an hour away, but they go for—

Fanny: Three weeks, usually.

Cecile: Yeah, a long period of time, three weeks. Listen to that, people. So they go away and there is no theme necessarily to it. You go. You don't really know what's happening over there.

Fanny: They do activities.

Cecile: They do stuff. But as a parent, you detach so you don't need to rely on family members or like additional care. And the kids live their life. I remember like growing up, or even for my nephews and nieces that are in France, it's just like free time for them. They really feel like they have an adventure for a couple of weeks without the parents and they come back with stories about it.

Fanny: New friends.

Cecile: We did this and this and that. And that's something that the system itself provides that here we couldn't find in the US. All the camps, you still—which means you're always physically with your kid too.

Fanny: Yeah, at night.

Cecile: At night, you're always with them. Same thing for play dates. We noticed very early on with our kids that in the US, I don't know if it's here in Miami, but you don't drop kids off for play dates, you stay as a parent. In France, a play date is free babysitting. You drop your kid. You're like, "Wonderful!"

Fanny: You say hello, you make sure it's a good person in front of you, check the surroundings, and you're out.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Is that the case now still?

Cecile: Yeah.

Fanny: Yeah.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Okay. So that's how we grew up. When you grew up, that was like how it was, right?

Fanny: Yeah, totally. And it's still the case.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Which is fantastic because I feel like in this country, it's like a big deal. I remember I went to a birthday party. I remember being a kid and they would just drop you off at the birthday party and they're like, "Okay, I'll come back in four hours." And then you were like, "Oh, let's go." And no one knew where anyone is. I don't know. It just worked, you know?

And I remember I went to a birthday party and it was so creepy because we walk in and every kid is working on a craft and their respective parent is standing right behind them. And I turned to my husband because at this point, we had come in and we were planning to ditch. We thought it was like, we're going to go do some errands, maybe have some lunch. And we looked at each other like, "Do we have to stay? Why are the parents here?" I don't even know what we ended up doing. I think we were so freaked out that we probably tried not to go to any of those more birthday parties because we hated that.

And when we would have birthday parties, we would actually have the parents, have the kids, but we would have drinks for the parents. The kids would scatter. So it was a big party. But it was the kind of thing where this whole idea that the kids can't be on their own. We have to be with them all the time. I found that it was very—you do have those camps here. I don't know how young they go. I mean, here, they'll take them down to 7. I don't know how young yours would go.

But even the fact that you guys are like, "My kids are in France." There's a lot of European families who do that. Their kids have a whole other life in the summer.

Fanny: Exactly.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: With people that they love and that love them. And it's just precious and it's beautiful but there's no layers of guilt. It's like, no, this is actually good for everybody. Everyone values. It's incredible. I have a lot of European parents who are—when they think of their life, they think of their life like half the year they're in another country and then half the year the US. This is people in Miami. In many ways, it was very—Why should we feel guilty about having that guilt-laden space?

Cecile: And it allows us, because as parents, it's also difficult to not behave as a parent when your child is here. You can try to say, yeah, I'm listening about the cup of coffee thing. There is no way I can sit and enjoy my cup of coffee if the kids are somewhere. My brain is over there. It's not really where I am. But if they're not in the room, that would give you-

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes, you need that.

Cecile: -the incentive and the ability to at least try to connect to—

Fanny: What you're doing.

Cecile: To be with yourself. Otherwise, it's terribly difficult to not focus on your kids.

Fanny: Because they are still calling you. [laughs] You need to say, "No, it's mommy time." They just don't get it. They are too small.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs] Even as we're having this Instagram live, meanwhile, if my husband's watching, can you please text Andre and tell him that he can take an Uber? I literally have texts from my son and I'm like, he knows I'm on an Instagram live. He knows. And yet he's texting me, "Hey, can I take an Uber? Because I have a lot of luggage." It doesn't end. It doesn't matter how old they are. They still figure out ways to jump into your life. [laughs]

So it's that kind of thing where the difference is being able to—That's the whole meditative space, is that being able to like block out other things becomes almost impossible when you just you hear the voices, like, "Oh, mommy," that "Oh, mommy," it's a lot. It's a lot of that pressure. And like you said, to me, I thought it was always cool to watch how much the kids would mature. Even the little ones, they would mature.

I always get a little bit nervous when I see little babies and nobody else can hold them, nobody else can be with them. They are completely attached. And I'm like, "This is maybe cute for now but when this kid's like 4 and if it's still like this, this is actually very difficult for kindergarten, for a lot of things." And I love fact that so many French families or so many European families really were like, "No, we have grandparents there. They miss their grandkids, and they're going to take care of them and we're going to be able to re-calibrate ourselves."

Cecile: And it allows also to share the responsibility of exposing them to things because there's only so much that you can talk about, show them, explore throughout your home. So being exposed to another set of people, whether it's your friends, parents, or siblings or whatever, the whole vocabulary is different. They say that we use only, what, 10% or 2% of the language, but if you're exposed to another family, then you grow to another set of language, food, sleeping pattern, all that kind of stuff where you cannot show all of that to your child within your house.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes.

Fanny: Yeah. They also learn to build relationships with someone who is not the mom or the dad, which is very important.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes, really important. And it's, again, a win-win. The grandparents get to have some confidence that they can take care of their own grandkids. I mean, have you ever seen grandparents and grandkids interact? It's like they speak the same language.

Fanny: Exactly.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: I feel like they're at similar stages of their lives where they don't remember everything. [laughs] They remember some things.

Cecile: They just want to have fun.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes, just have fun. I always joke that the reason to have kids is to have grandkids because the kids are tough, but the grandkids make sense in terms of why they exist in the world. To me, it's a much healthier way of working in that space of self-care, of everyone being a happier person in order to be a better parent. Everything is for a reason. And I think that we just try to control too much. We try to manipulate the picture and position everything in a certain way. And there's such a serendipity, there's such a beautiful chaotic space to raising children.

How many times do your kids say something or do something and you're like, "Where did you get this from? What is this?" And they'll just lock onto something totally random. And that only comes when it's out of your control. To me, there are so many things I would have never chosen for my children because I didn't know about it. It's not like I think it's bad, but I just don't know anything about it. And then they just normally just gravitated to it. And I was like, "Okay, we'll follow whatever this is," and I enjoyed that.

But, again, I fear when we are just constantly scheduling our children and things that we chose for them, we're imposing in them. Very interesting to go back to the original point. We're forcing them to become people pleasers again where we're asking them to relinquish being heard, being validated, being met. When your kids are like, "I'm really tired and I don't wanna go to ballet. I hate ballet." And you're like, "No, you've gotta do it." You're literally saying like, "I'm completely gonna invalidate any of your concerns or what you're saying. And you're gonna have to deal with it." And it's a bad cycle.

Fanny: Yeah.

Cecile: So let's break that cycle now and let's try to all think collectively as everybody who's watching. Let's think about one thing from this talk, and we'll leave you a few seconds to comment in there, one thing that you're gonna start implementing tomorrow. Let's not say today—tomorrow. One thing that will get onto that self-care-

Dr. Varisa Perlman: For yourself.

Cecile: -routine. Just one step, one thing. And while you think about that and write that in the comments, we have a giveaway today. So we are gonna give away some of our product, which hopefully is gonna make your life easier as a parent because we're saving you one step to change a diaper. So instead of having to apply three products to change your diaper, you're gonna use only one. So the time that you would have spent using the other two is time you can use for—

Fanny: Self-care.

Cecile: Yeah! Look at that.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs] That was good. That was a good link.

Cecile: So we ask that you write in the comments, for people who are still around, write in the comments what you want to do for self-care. And we'll pick before the end of this talk. We're going to pick one comment because it's important to start. The first step is the hardest.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. Well, I think the first step of actually saying, like, "Where have my needs not been met?" I feel like, again, there's this whole stigma of being selfish when you say, like, "Actually, I haven't had a meal." Like, "Oh, you're such a complainer." But even just the idea of, like, "I haven't had a meal from start to finish without having to do something for somebody else. I just want to sit for 15 minutes, chew my food, in a proper French fashion, and actually really be present for this meal."

I always joke that when my kids were young, my birthdays were spent at the IKEA cafeteria because thankfully my kids were so distracted that I could literally chew every single meatball. I don't even know if I like the meatballs. I don't even know I really wanted to eat the food, but I wanted to just be able to be present to a need that I had actually forgotten that I had not met.

I don't think that Fanny realized how much she missed long showers. [laughs]

Fanny: Yeah, that's good. When you can, you realize that you were not used to doing that. So when you can, you're like, "Okay, that's really good. I'm gonna do it." and then do it.

Cecile: So back to the long shower though. So if we have parents of young kids watching, let's dig into that specific of the long shower. Why is it that we cannot indulge into a long shower? What is the different scenarios that—

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Well, I would be so nervous. I don't know how you guys, but I would be so nervous that they climbed out of the window or some kind of stupidity, which obviously never happened. It never happened. It's interesting because, again, we're our worst enemy. And also, frankly, if you're someone who really wants that long shower, but you know, I'm by myself all day, then you know what? If you have a partner, when they come in from work, say, "Hey, listen. Give me half an hour." Communicate that. Say that to your partner. Don't be like, "Oh, he never really helps. She never really helps." But you know what? If you never tell them what you need and actually say what your need is, how are they supposed to read your mind?

So you actually have to invest in that time. When you talk about what do I have to do, I think the hardest first step is saying, “There are certain things that actually mean a lot to me that maybe nobody knows, but actually mean a lot to me.” So what are those things? Determine what they are. And then just be creative. Figure out ways to do them, And I think that once you start it, you can't let it go. I guess that's my point.

I'm a very big people pleaser. And when I was in college, I realized it was a very destructive force where I couldn't hear myself very well. And this is definitely in college. And I got to the point where I was like, "I want to do one fun thing that's just for me per day." And I didn't even have kids. I don't know who I was doing for. But I would do something where I would be like, "I want to walk by the store and I want to take a look at what they have." And I didn't want to buy it, but it felt like a nice thing to do. And I would go in, I would look, and I would come back, and it would feel so good that I had done something dedicated to only me.

And then when the kids were born, I was like, "Okay, I need to like—" And even if that meant 15 minutes of like, "I'm gonna watch TV and not feel guilty about it." I think that that that's the guilt. Even if you do it, but you sit there guilty about it the whole time. Sorry, that was useless. That does not work. You really need to just have the guilt out of there and the fear, I guess, that something bad is gonna happen and just walk away.

But if you're scared and you walk in the shower and you're like, "Oh my God." Because I know that my husband would be so mad. When the kids were young, when I would pee, I would leave the door open. He's like, "Why did you leave the door open?" And I was like, "Because I'm afraid someone's gonna yell if they need me and I have to jump out and I won't hear them yelling for me." How many times do I have to pee in a day? That really is annoying to have to think like that every single time. And I still do it, even though my kids are not here. I still do that. [laughs] That's just weird. Why? That is so crazy.

So we have to untangle all of this weird guilt and societal pressures and norms and place in the things that are good, take out the stuff that's bad, clear off your plate. You don't have to do anything besides—

Cecile: Yeah. We keep saying that the basics for a baby is eat, sleep, poop. If those things are covered, shower for you is next or the coffee or whatever. It can't be that far down the list that you can't indulge in it and be okay with it and not feel terrible for it. Because you're right, guilt is a huge, huge factor, a barrier to self-care.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Eat, sleep, stress. Poor Fanny. Now Fanny's yawning from just partying too much. [laughs]

Cecile: [laughs]

Fanny: Yeah, maybe. [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: From binge-watching. [laughs] The binge-watching is very real, by the way.

Cecile: It is. It feels good though.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs] It feels so good. It feels so good. And I would say as you get older, eat, sleep, stress. Basics. And I will tell you that I think that when you are running around and doing more and more and more, it's stressing everybody out.

Cecile: So let's go a few more seconds. Write down a comment. I'll give you—no, not a thumbs up because we won't be able to see where it is. So maybe just a heart or comment if you want to win today's giveaway. It's going to be our La Petite Creme bundle. It has everything to get started with La Petite Creme. So if you want that, put a heart or put a comment into the section here, and we're going to pick a lucky winner at the end of this and send you this beautiful bundle. So stay tuned. We'll contact you in DM.

So any last word of wisdom on self-care? Any last thing that we want people to go away with?

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Maybe we'll say—well, I like alliterations. So self-care equals simplify.

Cecile: And agree to not feel guilty about putting one thing for you. You have to start with one. And then once you see that the one goes smoothly, then you add another one. As you said, we're not talking about a two-hour manicure.

Fanny: Exactly.

Cecile: It's just one minute. Close your eyes, take a deep breath. That's your self-care for now and build up on that.

Fanny: I would say it's not me first, it's me too.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: That's great.

Cecile: Look at that. Can we do a T-shirt for that? [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: We're going to be speaking all in slogans. All in slogans. [laughs]

Cecile: Hashtag whatever the kids do. [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: More t-shirts. [laughs]

Cecile: Well, thank you, Varisa. Thank you, everybody, for watching. We'll go take my favorite moment of self-care. I'm going to eat a piece of chocolate. That's my little indulgence here and there.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Self-care equals chocolate. [laughs]

Cecile: Yes, that's my T-shirt. [laughs] And thank you, everybody, for watching. We hope you take good care of yourself in the coming days, and we'll see you again soon for another episode of Moms Talk with a French Accent. Until then, bye. Au revoir.

Fanny: Au revoir.

Cecile: Bye, Varisa. Thank you for joining us today.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Thank you.

Fanny: Bye.

Cecile: Bye.


Watch other episodes here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1dpfz3OiZoOwHuST-GmH9sTD0TfF3rIp

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