Once I stopped expecting motherhood to feel warm and fuzzy all the time life got much easier. Its helped to give myself permission to feel frustrated, angry, and tired sometimes. It doesn’t make me a bad parent, its just normal.
Here are ten things that I am trying to keep in mind as I adjust to my new role- Mother.
Change your Expectations
I anticipated that I would feel overjoyed when our baby was born, but I also had expectations about what life would be like. I wasn’t able to comprehend the change that was about to take place…. so naturally postnatal panic set in. With unbalanced hormones, sleep deprivation, a changes to myself and my personal relationships, I needed time to find a new rhythm. I am still looking for that rhythm but I’m learning to let go of how I thought life would be and give myself permission to accept what comes.
Get some Perspective
In the beginning particularly when I was breast feeding it was hard not to feel like I was my baby’s everything: nourishment, source of joy, nurturing, and development, the reality is much different. I am not the end all and be to my little one, I am his Mother. He also has a Father, and many other special people in his life that love him and help to care for him. It helped me to acknowledge that caring for our baby is not entirely my responsibility, as they say, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
This has been a hard adjustment for me. Prior to baby I worked full-time and ran my own personal training business. For over ten years I started my days between 4-5 A.M. with a solid cardio and strength training workout. Now my days are consumed by spit up dirty diapers, and battles over solids. Over the last eight months I’ve had my share of feeling disillusioned. With years of highly structured life behind me, these last few months without have been difficult. It has been hard to just feel like me, I feel like a mom all the time. Its been a humbling experience to become the women that I never understood. With that being said, I feel this change is transforming me into a better version of myself. I am letting go of that last little bit of selfishness and learning self-sacrifice, patience and compassion.
Self Care is a Must
Creating opportunities to nurture myself and do things that make me feel better about life is crucial. This is something I was good at in the beginning, but between moving and my Step-son breaking his leg, carving out time for me has been difficult. This became evident in my ability to cope with stress and my moods. I have been making a conscious effort to incorporate “Me Time” into my days. It doesn’t have to be something extravagant as a trip to the spa- it can be simple things that I was able to enjoy prior to Motherhood like a shower or bath, or even a book.
A is for Attitude
Given my predisposition to anxiety and my past experiences, I can often be a glass half empty kind of gal….which has made coping with this transition harder than it needs to be…..Lets be honest it makes everything harder than it needs to be. So I am working to focus on the positive and learn to make it a daily habit.
Get Enough Sleep!!!
Money cant buy you happiness, but a good nights sleep just might. Giving Dad some one-on-one time with baby while I get a few extra minutes of shut eye can absolutely make a difference in the way I feel.
(Re) Consider your Priorities.
It sounds so simple but one key to being in a more positive mood is to structure your day so you do more things you enjoy. We don’t have the financial flexibility to hire someone to clean our house or help with other chores. This means everyone helps out and its forced me to think about how clean our house really needs to be?? Do the kids really care if the counters are all dusted, or would our time be better spent as a family enjoying something fun?
Slow down and enjoy taking in the wonder of the world from your child’s eyes. Making mundane tasks of the day fun helps me feel more engaged. For example, I was folding laundry one day and when snapped the sheet I noticed how thrilled this made my little guy. I turned this into a game of invisible fort. Changing a mindless chore into a special moment with my son.
The drudgery of life can get to me sometimes. I have signed up for a hard job; its not supposed to be fun most of the time and its easy to get caught up in the details. When I am feeling this way I remind myself how empty my life would be without all of my amazing children. Time with our kids is precious and fleeting as my Dad says, “Don’t wish it away.”
Reality – When I feel overwhelmed, it makes me feel like a total failure, but –we ALL have those feelings. I have to work to stop comparing myself to what I see of other moms. Every mom has different challenges..
Mother Really Does Know Best
Don’t go crazy trying to heed everyone’s advice (even mine!) You are the Mom. No one knows your baby like you do. If your baby does best with a SooSoo, don’t let the SooSoo-haters get you down. You have to make the choices that work best for you and your family.
The cliché that babies grow up too fast is most certainly true. If you’re not enjoying your baby’s first year, push yourself out of your comfort zone and make it work. The one thing your baby needs, more than the latest and greatest name brand gear, more than the perfectly decorated nursery, is a happy and healthy Mom.