Dr. Megan Fleming on Prioritizing Sexy Self-Care as a Parent – Smart Sex, Smart Love

  • Description
  • Episode Transcript

On this episode, Joe explores how to prioritize self-care time as a parent, with his guest, Dr. Megan Fleming. Dr Megan is a nationally recognized, certified sex & relationships expert, with over 20 years experience with individuals and couples, teaching them skills and strategies to get the sex & relationships they really want. As the resident sex expert on the ‘Girl Boner’ podcast, Dr. Fleming believes coming into our sexual being, is what allows us to thrive and feel fully alive. She says, “Sexuality is vitality!”

But, finding time for self-care and sex as a parent, is tough. Even more so now, during Covid-19.  “Self-care is challenging under the best of times,” says Dr. Fleming. “Today, (with quarantine) we are in unprecedented times. The first thing people should do is give themselves a big pat on the back!” She goes on to say, “There’s a reason they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first on an airplane – when we take time for our own self-care, we actually have more to give!”

Find Dr. Fleming at:
Website | Podcast | Facebook

Speaker 1:

Welcome to another episode of smart sex smart love. I hope you’re all staying safe and well during quarantine this week I’m looking at how to prioritize sexy self care time as a parent with Dr. Megan Fleming. Dr Megan is a nationally recognized, certified sex and relationships expert with over 20 years of experience working with individuals and couples to discover what’s getting in their way. Megan teaches them skills and strategies to get the sex and relationships they really want. As the resonance sex expert of the girl boner podcast, Megan believes coming into our sexual and sensual being is what allows us to thrive and truly feel fully alive. As she says, sexuality is vitality on finding time for self care and be sexually awakened as a parent is tough. So let’s talk about how parents can prioritize themselves more. Welcome Megan.

Speaker 2:

So it’s so great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1:

Oh, and it’s so timely too. I mean, we were having you anyways. You’ve been booked for months and now we’re, we’re, I’m in quarantine with Cove and people are asking what do we do with the kids or about the kids and how to handle all that. And I wonder if you could start with that since that’s where, that’s where we’re at right now.

Speaker 2:

Sure. I mean, I think, um, and we’ll certainly get into that. I think self care is challenging even under the best of times. Um, and these are sort of unprecedented times. And so at first of all, I think it starts at self-compassion, right? That, um, that it can be just physically and emotionally exhausting because we’re juggling, uh, in some ways the same role, but all those roles at the same time, you know, for parents who are working, who are now working at home, also trying to navigate their kids’ schedules and for some like, uh, with younger children sort of homeschooling takes it to a whole nother level because those kids don’t yet have the skills and the technology that, that the teachers are telling on the parents to help out with. So, um, I think the first thing for people to do is to give a big themselves a big Pat on the back.

Speaker 2:

Um, recognizing that these really are demanding time. But as I say that now more than ever, we sort of say self care is non-negotiable. Um, there’s a reason they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first on an airplane. That’s exactly the biggest message for anybody listening is, it may at times feel counter-intuitive cause we all have a way of, uh, putting our kids first or putting ourselves last or the end of our to do lists that, you know, often never get done. But the reality is when we resource ourselves, right, when we take time for that self care, we actually have more to give.

Speaker 1:

That’s awesome. And um, and so there’s these means going around on Facebook, right? Where, uh, these homeschooling, that one kid was expelled from school and the teacher was fired for drinking on the job. And it’s a joke because it’s the mother and the other of the kids. W w what are parents saying about all this? How is it impacting them?

Speaker 2:

Well, I think, you know, I see, um, you know, we often see different reactions. So some of the reactions that I see are just the overwhelm. I’ve had a client who has gone upstate and her daughter is a Montessori school and the parent, because of her own anxiety, um, was recognizing that her daughter was picking up on that. And so she was just finding that she needed to take a break from school. Um, others are finding that, um, it’s an opportunity to be more acquainted, right. With what their kids are learning and they’re becoming more engaged. So I think the reactions are really individual and different. But the most important thing I can say is we are all our own experts or check in with yourself and realizing, you know, like in the case of my client with her level of anxiety, it was in a Nate having a negative impact on her daughter.

Speaker 2:

So especially she needed to create a kind of pattern interrupt, right? And not just continue to dig in and do the same old thing that wasn’t working. I think we just have to take a step back and look at what feels like it isn’t, isn’t working. And also where can we ask for help, whether it’s our partner, maybe you have an older child, um, maybe it’s a cousin or an aunt or uncle or somebody. You know, the greatest thing about our technology is we can reach out to, um, family and friends and connect. So I think it’s really important that people know how to reach out and ask for help.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Is that, so this, I was going to ask you, why is self care so challenging for parents? Is that one of the reasons?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean I think one is, we’re sort of raised in a very, it at least in the U S a very individualistic, um, you know, culture that values our independence. That being said, I also think that it is often for women, but even so for men, you know, we’re sort of, you know, priding the role of caretaker and you know, often the idea of self care is concerned. Selfish, right? And it’s really to distinguish the fact that it’s the opposite. It’s really when we take that time that everybody benefits. Because when we’re running on empty, we all notice that our nervous system, right? We’re going to be coming from a more reactive, I could put a call it, uh, you know, worse or not best part of self. Right? And so this is why, even though it’s challenging, it’s not negotiable. Because when we don’t take care of ourselves, we don’t have the access to the best parts of ourselves to, to do the work that we want to be doing.

Speaker 1:

This is such good information, even if it’s not about parenting, like even as a therapist, right? I think through my end now, just as a partner to my own, um, husband that we need to be able to take care of ourselves first. I love that. I love that you use the, the airplane. Cause I think, I, I don’t know why someone hasn’t written a book with the name. Put your mask on first before assisting others. It’s a great idea. It’s a understanding that we can only help others if we take care of ourselves. And that’s what you’re saying.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. In fact, we put a note, it’s sort of the antidote to burnout. Uh, Emily and Amanda like ASCII, you know, their book burnout talks about, um, how, when we don’t take care of ourselves, that stress cycle really leads to disease and um, and burnout. And so I think it’s imperative that we see the prevention piece. Um, and again as therapist, the other thing that’s also very real is compassion fatigue. And so when you’re not nurturing yourself or taking care of yourself, you’re really putting yourself in in some ways then ultimately your clients at risk because you know, we’re only human.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. It’s so true to say the name of that book again cause I want to get it,

Speaker 2:

it’s called burnout by um, Emily Nagasaki who wrote a come as you are. She wrote this book with her sister Amanda. Oh, the great job. Oh yes. It’s fantastic. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Okay. That’s great. Um, can you talk about generational patterns of neglect? They get to stop with you?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean, I think that we all have an opportunity to recognize, again, I’m not sure how each of us was raised because we all did or didn’t get certain things, but it’s not uncommon if you didn’t have a role model, right. For a mother or father who had good self care or had a work life balance, the chances are, you know, even though they were well intentioned, you may have experienced some neglect. It may not be really good at or had a good role model knowing how to take care of yourself. And so, um, I love this idea that, you know, with any of these, uh, generational patterns, um, that are unhealthy, like, you know, alcoholism and in this case, self neglect or not taking good care of oneself, you could just sort of say the buck stops here. Right? And it’s an opportunity to, um, change that. It no longer gets handed down, but also you get to model for your own children, that level of self care that you want them to have for themselves and to instill in their families.

Speaker 1:

Right. And I didn’t ask that question. Well, so I think what you’re saying is there are generational patterns of neglect that get to stop with you and, and you’re speaking my language as a therapist because most people are looking back at what happened, you know, abuse, um, you know, in some way or, uh, physical abuse, verbal abuse. But nobody really is looking at what didn’t happen, didn’t neglect what should have happened. And, and that’s what you’re talking about.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. And, and that when you, you know, because again, your parents have been incredibly busy, had you know, five kids, you know, under the age of four or something like that, you know, they were probably doing as we often are the best that they can, but that it doesn’t change your childhood experience. Right. That the feeling of neglect or how it can impact self esteem, self confidence and you know, when you don’t have a good sense of your own self worth, these are things that I find then is an additional challenge to knowing how to, to do self care, much less prioritize it.

Speaker 1:

Yes. And can you also talk about, I know you speak a lot about the intersection of self care and pleasure. What do you mean by that?

Speaker 2:

Well, I think again, we sort of say that self care is not negotiable, but I think hunger is just sort of up leveling it. It’s sort of like living essential life kind of blows the socks off of the idea of, you know, the role of self care and uh, cause pleasure if you think about it. I mean both being sex therapists, I’m like always the, you know, instead of the Apple a day, it’s the orgasm a day, right? That orgasm releases oxytocin. It’s dope. I mean, but it’s stress relieving. There’s so many amazing things about it. Um, and so again, when we focus on big and small things that give us pleasure, everything from, you know, enjoying the sun, soaking on your skin to savory, your favorite piece of chocolate, if these are practices that really, uh, recharge and refuel us. And I think again, through the pleasure aspect, it really connects us to our sense of vitality.

Speaker 1:

I love that you’re including, and of course you would because you’re a sex therapist, but, um, you are including the sexual pleasure cause a lot of people don’t talk about that, uh, as a form of, um, rejuvenating themselves as a parent. Right?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. And I think it’s sort of, again, when you live a pleasurable life, it’s like you can have a daily experience and you just, you know, up-level it a little bit. So maybe it’s, you know, your hot bath and you add some aroma therapy or Epsom salts. Like it doesn’t take much to, you know, realize that even daily experiences can be ones that you can infuse a bit of pleasure. And I think again, when it comes to as sex therapists and sexuality, you know, when we sort of, I sort of say it’s like keeping your intersecting pilot light on right? When we can simmer right in our event of sensuality or pleasure, you know, it’s no longer necessarily thinking about how to get turned on for sex because you’re already living in a turned on vice,

Speaker 1:

your inner sexy Pat, what did you call it? I love that pilot light. I love that. Perfect. So given that, um, can you talk about your free nine day pleasure challenge? I’m sure it includes some of that.

Speaker 2:

Sure. Um, so anybody who’s interested in my nine day pledge challenge, you can go to my website, which is great life, great sex.com and it’s forward slash pleasure. Um, and it really is sort of nine days. It’s an email that is, um, each day, which with sort of simple, practical, uh, sort of their pleasure prompts. And it’s this idea that prioritizing pleasure every day. And you know, it doesn’t take a lot of time. It doesn’t cost a lot of money. And if there’s one thing I’ve seen doing this 20 years, so many people have blocks, right, to knowing how to receive pleasure or allowing pleasure. And so, um, this is a great challenge for anybody who definitely wants to welcome more pleasure in their life.

Speaker 1:

I am definitely going to do that because, um, you know, for me, I just think we all, we all need that, especially as therapists, especially around coven. You know, there’s quarantine time that, you know, just finding little ways to, to pleasure yourself, not just sexually, but anyway, um, is important. And what I also love about this whole thing that you’re talking about is, you know, in the sex and [inaudible] and psychotherapy world, it’s all about sexual abuse, sexual acting out, sexual trauma. And we don’t talk about pleasure and you’re not afraid to talk about it, are you?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely not. Because again, I think it’s a piece of missing. And you know, it’s interesting because especially in this time of COBIT, um, I was on another podcast which is coming out about pleasure and it’s launching and you know, she’s wondering like, is this a time like, and if their Perella actually got her series going on right now, you know, the art of us and her last week is, is there room for pleasure in the midst of crisis? Which I think is just perfect because again, we’re all in that discussion and recognizing that even in my mind, especially in the midst of a crisis pleasure really is, uh, it’s a pleasure principle, right? That, uh, we absolutely need to be prioritizing because it really is sort of the ultimate self care.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And I think what happens, it’s hard. I hear, I’m hearing people and I’m struggling with it is, uh, so much pleasure to comfort yourself, but, but doing it in a way that doesn’t harm yourself, like gaining too much weight or drinking too much or whatever. Right? I mean, now those are hard balances.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. But I think it’s interesting that you say that because often when we think about pleasure, we tend to go to the hedonistic side, whether it’s sexual or eating or drinking, you know, sort of excess. Right? And so again, I think these are how culturally it’s almost like there’s shame, um, just as it is around sex, but also around pleasure that it doesn’t equal hedonistic. Right? It can be, as I said, enjoying the sunset or you know, favoring your favorite, uh, glass of wine.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for catching that. That’s so good. That’s so important. I never thought about those two things being fused in our culture, but they are, what, can you speak to what your thoughts are? Why we’re beginning to see more focus on pleasure. I’m like, it’s the focus of world sexual health day this year. Pleasure matters. Like why, why is it coming up so much now

Speaker 2:

over something just sort of excited that it is sort of the theme this year of world sexual health day. Um, because, you know, pleasure does matter and the fact that they are, um, seeing the, you know, through the world of sexual health, this is sort of what are the principles, right? That, you know, even as we define sexual health, the possibility of pleasure isn’t even in the definition. And so, um, I think we’re seeing more of it because, um, you know, it’s, it’s I think a growth in a sense of the becoming the role of self care, sort of becoming very much in our vernacular vocabulary. Like people have practices or you know, like it’s a yoga practice or next size. And there used to be, I think a lot of stigma and shame even in, you know, taking time for, um, a wellness routine. And I think that as that has become normative and it’s gained acceptance, this is just sort of the natural perfect extension to that, which is really focusing on the pleasure. Um, and I think, you know, interestingly enough, uh, Gwen Palliser just did her goop, um, series. And the third episode is with Betty Dobbin, who I’m sure we both know and love the mothers of masturbation. And, um, you know, again, the focus of the episode is all on pleasure, including pleasure for one. And so, um, I just think that, you know, now more than ever culturally we’re sort of ready for these messages.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So for people who don’t know Betty Dobson, uh, she wrote a book many, many years ago. Is it called pleasure for one? Was that what it was called? Sex for one. Oh, sex for one, it’s all about sex for one. That’s why you call her mother the mother of masturbation. And she wasn’t afraid to talk about that. And you know, I feel like, I really feel like in the midst of crisis, and this is a horrible crisis we’re going through, good things do come from, from these kinds of things. The AIDS crisis in the 80s, I remember as a gay man was so freaking horrible. But I remember thinking even if we were going through it, we were in the media all the time. People were coming into our homes, they were going into our hospital beds, they were seeing gay people all the time, lesbians helping. And I really believe that pushed us to a more acceptance that we’re real people and that we really care about ourselves, that we have real lives. And I feel like with this, this may push us well first of all towards pleasuring ourselves because being sexual with yourself is the safest way to get through coven. But also I’m also thinking just tele-health in the, in the mental health field. Tele-health has been like this, um, hedonistic thing that you kind of mentioned. We are, Oh my God, you’re doing telehealth. That’s so anti therapy. No, it isn’t. It’s very helpful to many clients and now we’re going to see that push forward because of grunting.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. You know, we’re both sort of of background at Tomago and one of the expressions is, you know, the crisis is the opportunity and I’m talking to parents and clients all the time around that. Um, you know, as we’re sort of cocooning and maybe thinking of it as cocooning versus quarantining, that, you know, we get the opportunity to go in and really figure out what matters and what we’re going to prioritize and essentially when we come out, right, we’re going to be the butterfly, right? What is it that we, this is a perfect to develop skills and habits, um, that we haven’t had the time or energy to develop. And as you said, with technology, we have access to sort of, you know, the best teachers, whether it’s through books or podcasts or a YouTube and really encouraging people to not just Netflix is time away, right? I’m sure it’s great to catch up on the show and we all need, you know, some chill time to decompress after a stressful day. But it really is, I think for me anyway, highlighting their real growth opportunities here.

Speaker 1:

So what would you say to someone who says, okay, I’ve done all my self pleasuring, all my self care and I’m still really finding it hard to be around my kid who’s home 24, seven now. What would you say to that parent?

Speaker 2:

Well, I would say that, um, first of all, it’s great that they have already done what they feel like, you know, they’d prioritize all those things, but I think they have to be honest with themselves and if that’s the case, but that, I don’t know, you know, I’m still in New York city and so, um, we’re all, you know, it’s an apartment one floor. Unfortunately they’re different rooms, but you know, many people, uh, at least have different rooms or different floors. And I think really this is an incredibly important piece, which is schedules and structure, you know? And so, um, whether your child has some time, they’re FaceTiming with friends or again, it’s the homeschooling piece, but there really should be breaks that you’re not really on top of each other 24, seven because understandably, you know, even with our partners, right? Sometimes, you know, we need some space and distance.

Speaker 2:

That’s part of the recharging actually. And so I think part of it is recognizing with realistic expectations, you know, it kind of makes sense if you’re 24, seven, something about that isn’t working, that becomes a red flag. You need to pivot and then you really get to decide and working depending on the age of your children, you know, whether you need to be collaborative with them or just more directive. Uh, you know, being the parent that we’re going to make the shift in the schedule and we’re going to experiment and see how it works for everybody.

Speaker 1:

Hmm. That makes sense. A lot of sense. Dr Megan, what else would you add that we haven’t talked about that you want to make sure people hear? Um, in terms of sexy self care time and it’d be an appearance.

Speaker 2:

Well, again, going back to what you said, I think it’s that even in a time of crisis because some people might feel that, you know, when this is over then I’ll take care of myself. We sort of call it the Wednesday. Um, it’s to realize, you know, there is no time like the present and as we said earlier, it is really about the putting your oxygen mask on yourself so that you really do have more to give. Um, and I think that when and if any parent listening is struggling with that, um, whether because of shame or guilt, um, or overwhelm as you said, is a perfect time to be reaching out for help. Whether it’s help onto an ethic front and getting, you know, a little bit hands on, um, through a partner or online family, friends. But also from a mental health perspective, if anybody is struggling or challenged, right?

Speaker 2:

To see the value or prioritize, prioritize it. Because again, that’s the role of my day. Pleasure challenge. If you actually do the work, you will feel the difference and it will be self-reinforcing. It will be the thing you of course want to do. But you first have to, I mean, how many times do people say I’m going to die it or they make a decision, okay, I’m going to prioritize pleasure, self care and they don’t do it. Right. So it’s really the highlight. There’s a difference between making a decision and really being committed. And so I know when people are committed, they will absolutely feel the value of doing this work for themselves and how it enhances their lives and their relationships. But as I said, when, if anybody’s struggling for whatever reason, because there are many reasons that always make complete sense, it’s to realize there is health, mental health resources available.

Speaker 1:

Well, I love that you offer this pathway. I’m gonna, um, cite the, I’m going to go to it as soon as we hang up. Great life, great sex.com. Forward slash. Pleasure. How else can other people find you?

Speaker 2:

Um, well again, that is my website so you can learn more about me and maybe how to work with me as well as every week there’s a August McLaughlin has the girl boner podcast and so every week, um, if you want to submit a question that you have a relationship or second question, I’m answering that question under sort of a segment called hashtag ask dr Megan. So if you’d like me to answer a question, definitely reach out. And, um, there’s a contact sheet. If you look for girl boner podcasts,

Speaker 1:

girl boner podcast. I love the name. Thank you so much. I love all this information. I just want to thank you, dr Megan, and if you enjoyed my show, please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe and also follow me at Instagram and on Twitter at dr Joe Kort. I’ll see you next time. Take care and be safe. 

© 2019 • Smart Sex, Smart Love Podcast Series