There Goes the Motherhood: Q&A With Jill Spivack

There’s nothing better to help one keep it real than being a mom M (spit up, leaky boobs, public tantrums, the list goes on…) which is why Bravo’s latest show, There Goes the Motherhood pushes the reality concept to a whole other level. The show is centered on a popular 8-week L.A. parenting group of six moms led by family therapist Jill Spivack—and the ladies aren’t afraid to air their dirty laundry, literally and figuratively. Sex, no sex, husbands, ex husbands, little angels and little devils are all fair game when the group gets together to support each other…and dish. LOVE& got a sneak peak at the program and the opportunity to chat with Jill about the key issues that challenge so many couples with children.

Jill Spivack

LOVE&: How did the Sleepy Planet mommy group get started?

Jill: First, the most important role in my life is being the mother of two kids, Jake and Emma. I’ve also been married for twenty-three years and proud to say I’m still very much in love with my husband after all of this time! I had my first child 19 years ago, right out of graduate school and working in a private practice as a family therapist. I realized that I wanted to specialize in parenting and began to train at a parenting center in New York City. When I moved back to Los Angeles, I realized there was a huge demand for parenting groups here as well. Moms really needed that “village” to connect, gather info, and support one another through this incredible journey.

LOVE&: Having a child marks a huge shift in a couple’s life together. What are the main issues that come up?

Jill: Having a baby absolutely presents a major transition. This event can bring them even closer or it can cause more stress and conflict. Even the best relationship will experience some bumps as they adjust to this new phase in life. Post-wedding, you’ve just started finding a balance and sharing a home together and then baby comes in and changes everything! Women, who are especially wired to bond with their babies, go into nesting mode. Dads can feel a loss of intimacy and a little pushed out. Moms might have trouble letting go of the controls even while they are exhausted and in desperate need of help. Another huge issue is the lack of spontaneity when your schedule is dictated by a new baby’s needs—this can feel really difficult for couples that are used to bopping out to dinner or the movies. And then there is sleep deprivation!

LOVE&: What are some suggestions for balancing your role as a parent with your role as husband or wife?

Jill: The greatest gift to our children is having a strong marital connection. It helps them feel secure, happy, and stable. We see a lot of couples trying to “wing it” and having tons of conflict that could have been avoided if they had talked about a plan at the get go. It’s critical that young children have early bedtimes (7-8PM) so parents have some down time to nurture themselves and one another and get that adult time back. And hiring a babysitter for date night is far less expensive than divorce attorneys down the road!

LOVE&: What about sex? Do many couples complain about their love life after baby?

Jill: Yes! About 90% of the complaints come from dads who miss the physical connection with their wives. Some women have zero desire post baby for a while. It can be a combination of hormones going up and down, body image issues post-pregnancy, and sex might be painful for a time. And the little munchkins require a ton of physical and emotional energy—it can be tough having anything left at the end of the day. But over time this needs to shift and the best way is for mom to take care of herself and be encouraged by her husband to do so. The more he can support her, the more likely her sex drive is to return!

LOVE&: What are some strategies couples can use to for keeping romance and closeness alive?

Jill: There are certain tips I provide to all my groups [you can find more details at the Sleepy Planet website]: communicate, make a plan and divide labor before conflicts arise, don’t expect your spouse to be a mind reader. For wives—encourage your husband to help out with the kids and don’t criticize. Couples should also try to connect with the reasons they got married in the first place. Pull out pre-baby photos and videos. Reminisce about fun things you did together before the kids and plan to go do them again. Plan date nights and sex.

LOVE&: How can starting a family make a marriage even stronger and more fulfilling?

Jill: There is nothing like knowing you created a life with another human being who you fell in love with. You have this joint interest, a source of pride and joy to share with each other. You can communicate your dreams and parenting mission and adapt with each other along the way. Knowing that you are doing this most important job with someone you love is extremely gratifying and connective.

There Goes the Motherhood premieres on Wednesday, April 20 at 10/9c on Bravo. Make sure the kids are in bed.