New moms and self-care
I well remember the feeling of overwhelm, fatigue and disorientation of being a mother to a new baby. I drew a pie chart of my life and my roles before and after children. In the circle above I was: lover, friend, professional, musician, spiritual seeker, workshop leader, public speaker, counselor, and me. In the pie chart later, I was MOM. This new young life was taking my total focus, energy, and sense of myself.
That was several years ago and I have a few secrets to share with new moms about their new role as a mom. I am happy to tell you that I am still happily married. Our son is a wonderful, sensitive, intelligent, funny and loving young man. Okay, I’m a bit biased, he’s our son. Their teachers, other adults, and their friends feel the same way, so I’m not too far from the base. So, let’s look at some ways to nurture yourself during this time.
1. If you feel overwhelmed and tired, remember two things. First, you will feel like yourself again. Part of this process is changing hormones, lack of sleep, a new role in life, and amazing responsibility. You will develop a rhythm and a schedule over the course of the next several months.
2. Second, talk to other moms. I felt like it was a well-kept secret, this overwhelming feeling. You may also feel like you are not a great mother because of these feelings. I would say that around 70-80% of the women I spoke to expressed these feelings. One of my mentors said, “Iris, we talked about instinct in parenting. Yes, we connect intimately with our son, but learning has a lot to do with feeling comfortable. You have been in a relationship for 9 months with your son. in utero, but it will take a while to develop this relationship. I wouldn’t expect another relationship to be established in just a few minutes. This will take a little time for you to get to know each other. Be nice to and congratulate yourself on all that you are doing right now. “
3. Be very positive about yourself. Refuse to be self-critical. This is a new kind of relationship. Be gentle with your internal dialogue. Cheer up with each step and with each success.
4. Be loving with your partner. When you’re tired and stressed and may have only had contact with a non-verbal child, it’s easy to be a bit agile. (That’s an understatement). Your partner is NOT the enemy. It is a help and a support. Praise what you do to help. Resist the urge to criticize the way you do things. He WILL DO things differently than you, that doesn’t make him wrong. Dads add balance and perspective, and your child needs both sides of parenthood. In general, you will treat your new child as less fragile. It won’t be so neat. You will do things that are good enough rather than perfect. If you want to be co-partners in parenting, don’t scare him by criticizing him for doing things differently from you. You will be grateful for these differences as your child grows.
5. Go out on a date with your partner 2-4 times a month. The fundamental basis of the family is the relationship with your partner. My father was the person who gave me this advice and I have taken it since our son was a couple of weeks old. It is not neglecting your child, it takes time to build the relationship that this life created. Plus, it keeps you balanced and helps you feel like a lover, friend, and partner, not “just” a mom. Please don’t make excuses in this case. You may need to become a creative problem solver to find someone you trust with your child. One solution might be to find another new mom and the two of you trade time to care for your child and theirs while the other couple makes a date. You spend between 26 and 28 full days with your child. Spending 4 to 10 hours a month with your spouse is not a lot to ask to stay married for life.
6. Take a few moments for yourself when you can. When your child is sleeping, take a nap, a bubble bath, or call a friend. When your partner is home, meet a friend for coffee for an hour. Keep your appearance tall. It can be a negative cycle: not having time for yourself, not taking care of your personal hygiene, feeling depressed for not being attractive. I remember getting up an hour before my son woke up so I could shower, put on makeup, get dressed, and read some inspiring words. I always felt attractive, even if I was tired.
7. If you feel extremely depressed, irrational, and out of control, call your doctor immediately! You may be one of the few moms who need medical attention and advice. Don’t feel bad about this. You are only one of the small percentage of women who have a major biochemical and / or psychological change that needs professional help. If in doubt, call your doctor, describe your emotional state, and request an evaluation. It’s okay. Don’t judge yourself. Happens. Get help now.
8. Really enjoy time with your new child. Snuggle up, hug, smile, go crazy and learn to play again. This is a time to see your life with new eyes. Your child sees everything for the first time. You and your partner will also experience this novelty. It’s magic!
9. See your child and your life as a legacy. When we had our son for the first time, I was able to see my life as a plan of more than five years. I could see my life divided into decades along with my grandchildren. It really is a joy and an honor. You will do very well during these initial times. I can truly say, of all my accomplishments, raising a wonderful young man and maintaining a great marriage are my greatest joy.
These secrets will help you get through those first few months of being a new mom. It is a joyful and demanding time. Ask for help when needed. Communicate with friends and former co-workers. You will be touched by how much others are willing to help.