Sometimes you feel so absorbed by the children that you start loosing your own personality. You don’t know who you are anymore. You don’t feel your needs and interests. You don’t allow yourself to desire something, nor do you let these things happen for you.
It’s really easy to get carried away with the baby, but the consequences are just too severe. The postpartum depression is one of them. If I were you, I wouldn’t underestimate it.
Yes, you became a mother. The world has changed forever and it will never be the same again. You feel a ton of responsibility pressing on your fragile shoulders. And you want to be the best mom for your baby.
Being first-time parents is so stressful. I had this urge to act heroic and always be right and never make mistakes at first. Quickly enough, I realized, this strategy will deplete my resources and make my life miserable. You see, the more you’re willing to be perfect, the more mistakes you make, the more stress you get from it and it’s a vicious circle with no way out.
Here’s the truth: you ALREADY are the BEST mom for your baby and the BEST version of yourself. Babies do that to us. They make us better just by coming into this world. So don’t worry and breathe! Everything’s gonna be okay.
Spoiler: you WILL make mistakes. It’s inevitable. Just embrace it.
Spoiler #2: you will feel better, more relaxed and less stressed about the way you “mom” as the time goes by.
Wow! That was a long intro. Sorry about that. Now, getting back to topic. Here are 5 habits that will change the way you mom forever!
5 HABITS THAT WILL MAKE YOU A HAPPY MOM
1. Have time for yourself
Consider it the most important sanity saver. Every person needs some time alone, some quite time, some “me time” – call it any way you like. The point is, this helps you hear yourself, learn more about your personality, do what you like and recharge. This is especially crucial for moms, because they tend to burn out emotionally in this whole motherhood thing.
Let me tell you this: it’s normal and healthy for you to have time off and enjoy some “me time” now and then, because child-care is a 24–7 proposition for days, weeks, and months with on-end.
It will not make you a bad mother if you leave your baby for a couple of hours to go out and have fun. Right on the contrary. Because what your baby and your husband both need is a happy mom. So you have got to determine the things that make you happy (apart from momming) and try to stick to them whenever you feel the need to be emotionally recharged.
My list of “me-time” sanity savers:
- go for a walk ALONE
- go out (socialize)
- go shopping (buy a new outfit)
- go to the gym
- read a book
- listen to your favorite playlist (and dance your butt off)
- get your nails done
- have a haircut
- attend a master-class
- go to a cafe and have a cup of coffee
- take a bath with bubbles and essential oils
- schedule a whole body massage
It’s hard to be on the sidelines, but when you give birth to your baby, it’s not about you anymore. It seems that no-one cares for how you are feeling, no one adores your tummy (like people used to do in your pregnancy), no one pays that much attention to you any longer. Every single person is now interested in your baby. This abrupt change is hard to embrace. On top of that, you deliberately cut out your social life when you come from the hospital with this brand new little member of your family because you just need time to digest this life changing experience and adjust to new life conditions.
I don’t say that you don’t need this time alone. The first couple of weeks postpartum is a rough period, not only for you, but for every member of the family. It’s great to do nesting and stay at home with your baby with no visitors. It’s great for bonding with the newborn. Only for some moms this period transfers into months of social disconnection.
What happens is you stay alone with your baby and the days pass by looking absolutely the same. Like a ground-hog day. You don’t get enough attention from people who visit you (because your baby steals it all). You don’t feel understood, nor do you feel loved to that extent you’d want to. Generally, I could describe it by one word – abandoned. YOU FEEL ABANDONED.
THAT’S WHY YOU NEED TO GO OUT AND SOCIALIZE!
Add to all that the physical need of a woman to talk to keep her mind healthy and stay sane (neuropsychiatrist Brizendine stated that a woman on average speaks 20,000 words a day, while a man – only 7,000), and you’ll get a pretty good idea how social life is important for a new mom. I would even say, CRUCIAL and LIFE CHANGING!
What you can do:
- Pre-plan. Schedule your social life. Start slow by leaving you baby for a couple of hours once a week.
- Ask for help. Have your husband or your parents stay with the baby for a couple of hours while you go out.
- Meet with your girlfriends and don’t talk about BABIES!
- Attend a social meeting. Are you interested in reading? Then visit a book club. Do you like to cook? Go to a cooking master-class. Be creative. Remember. Your baby needs a happy mama!
- Subscribe for a language class. When you can’t do anything but care for the baby, you feel like your brain starts to lose it. You need to encourage your brain activity an learning a new language is the best to opt for. Here’s an example from my experience. I am a teacher of English and I have a student in my class who always comes with her 2-month-old baby because she wants to invest in her education and keep engaging her brain to work hard, bypassing the fact that she has just became a mom.
3. Learn to schedule and be forgiving if you can’t make something done
I used to feel myself a bad wife when I had piles of laundry and a clueless husband who came up to me saying he had no fresh socks left to wear. Ugh.
I used to feel myself a bad wife when my house was a complete mess, because I was too exhausted from looking after the baby (who seem to need NO rest at all) and I felt no energy to clean. But I hate when my house is messy. Clean house is clean mind and cozy atmosphere at home. Cleaning is my meditation. I love doing it. It’s just that you obviously can’t meditate when your toddler is jumping at your leg and you have to do stuff in a rush.
I used to feel myself a bad wife when my husband had no lunch to eat (he works from home) because I failed at pre-planning and cooking beforehand.
I used to scold myself for all that. Like, REALLY BAD. Until fairly recently, when I’ve heard a life-changing phrase from my husband: “Take it easy”, – he said – “I need a happy wife, not a housekeeper. Do things only when you feel that you have energy for them and can do them with love”.
Now, I have to unwind a little bit and give you a pre-story. You see, before we had our baby, my house was dazzling clean, the meals were made with passion (because I love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen), and there always was fresh clothes perfectly ironed and folded and resting in the wardrobe. I had it all. I knew how to organize my life in such a way that my striving for clarity and perfection were covered. When I had my baby my perfectly organized life went upside down. And let me tell you, for a perfectionist as I am, it was an utter disaster.
But you see, becoming a parent requires a sacrifice, a new way of thinking, these changes will take place if you readjust your expectations.
Yes, you can try and do it all. You will have a clean house, perfectly folded clothes, and several meal options on top of childcare. But have you looked at yourself in the mirror throughout the day? I’m sure there’s a bathrobe, no make up and dirty hair in the picture.
I’ve had days like these. They bust the chops out of me. And did I feel happy after all I was managing to do in the house? No. Because the reflection in the mirror told: ” You are exhausted! Go take a shower and have a good might sleep”. But I had no energy to go to the bathroom and take a shower before I bed (I don’t even start about having a conversation with my husband because it seemed like way too much!)
So I though. Who needed all that? Me? Hell, no. My husband? No. My baby? I’m sure he doesn’t care.
What is more important is how you look and how you feel yourself. Because when the woman is happy, everyone around her feel that, too.
I took a deep breath and came up with the best list of things that saved my sanity!!
How I manage to have a clean home without tiring myself out?
- I clean the sink while brushing my teeth
- I pick up objects and put them into place whenever I have a free minute
- I empty the dishwasher first thing in the morning
- I make the beds while cooking breakfast
- I choose one day a week for dusting only (I hate to do all the cleaning in one day, it takes too long and is very tiring)
- I never leave dirty dishes for the night
- I wipe the floors in the kitchen and hall every day
- I learned to fold the clean clothes as soon as it’s dried and put it into the wardrobe
- Sunday is the laundry day
- I plan my meals on Saturdays (I try to do it for the whole week)
- I cook for the moment to reduce extra waste (sometimes I forget about the leftovers)
- If a meal takes a long time to cook, I would cut the products in the evening to save time the next day.
- I quit ironing. I do it when the outfit really needs it. No more ironing for the sheets. YAY!
- I organize and plan things from the evening.
What more can I say? Even after coming up with these amazing tips that changed my life and saved my sanity, I still have piles of laundry sometimes and my house may look like a complete mess, too. I’m still not perfect at pre-planning meals, so I can leave my husband without lunch.
The one thing that actually changed is that I don’t feel like I’m a bad wife anymore. And I certainly wouldn’t scold myself for that. What I feel is that I’m not a superhero. And I have no desire to be one. What really matters is that I should feel relaxed and happy, so if cleaning the bathroom won’t contribute to this feeling, then it certainly can wait until later.
4. Reconnect with your husband
Kids change marriage. You just have to embrace this fact. Sometimes you disconnect with you husband both on physical and psychological levels. You may not even notice this happening, but all of a sudden it seems like you don’t know the person you married. I reassure you. You are not alone with this feelings. Many many women have the same situation. You see, for us, women, it’s really easy to get carried away with the baby and disconnect with the husband, because your brain launches another program that is written in your genes, called “take care of your baby, you can’t let it die”.
There’s also too much going on for you postpartum: your body changes, you feel a lot of discomfort and sometimes pain, your hormones gives you a roller coaster ride every single day (who am I kidding? Multiple times a day!). And that’s just a tiny part of it. No wonder you want to stay untouched.
Sometimes (mostly all the time) you feel so exhausted, you don’t want to spend your last resources of energy for having a date with your husband. Because it just seems like too much to handle. However, don’t get the wrong idea, reconnecting is not always about spending much energy, some times it happens to be just the other way around. And you have to try. For your own sake. And for the sake of your family.
How you can reconnect with your husband:
- go on a date (or have a date at home)
- cook dinner together
- have a sincere talk (tell about your insecurities, share your thoughts and fears)
- watch your favorite movie
- drink wine and make fun jokes
- play a table game
- offer a massage (or ask for it)
5. Adjust your expectations
I wish I could tell you that you can be prepared to become a mother (when you’re pregnant with your first) before you give birth, but that would be a lie. No matter how many books you read, how many youtube videos you watch, how many experienced moms you talk to – there is just NO way to comprehend what it’s like to become a first time mom. Yes, knowledge is power, no doubt here. But experience is what really makes a difference.
The moment you give birth, your life is never gonna be the same. The world goes upside down. These changes are nor bad, nor good. They are just different! Some mothers say it’s like you never lived until you actually became a parent. I’d say it’s like you lived to the full without feeling a whole spectrum of emotions, responsibility and the fear of death. Lived without awareness for your actions, thoughts, body and mind, and your life.
When you become a parent, you suddenly become the REAL YOU, seeing the clarity of life, feeling a huge burden of responsibility for your little one, feeling this unconditional love and excruciating anger (your emotions acquire such a high pitch, you would sometimes get scared of yourself). On top of that, the fear of death and leaving your baby will take you over (at first, you will find out how to handle it later).
Motherhood makes YOU different. In a better way (I’m sure of that!). Motherhood ruins your plans and creates new ones (even better ones!). Motherhood hurtles you with the your most powerful fears and you learn how to work them through. Motherhood teaches you to be strong, patient and forgiving. Motherhood bears your soul and gives it a chance to heal.
I COULD NEVER HAVE EXPECTED THESE THINGS TO COME WITH THE BABY.
I could expect exhaustion.
I could expect postpartum depression.
I could expect sleepless nights.
I could expect body changes.
But I certainly didn’t think that becoming a mom would give me much more than just a baby. That it will glue me into another person. That it will bring “the bare me” to the surface and make it see the world. And I LOVE THAT! I love being who I am right now. I love all this spectrum of new emotions and feelings and responsibilities (even the stress!) that came with the little new member of our family.
But I didn’t realize this in the beginning. Becoming a mom was rough. Sure enough, I had false expectations. I thought that having a child is easy. First couple of months he sleeps all the time, then it’s just getting more fun to watch him develop. Life proved me wrong. I had a constantly yelling and restless baby for around 5 months who never ever wanted to stay in his crib or a stroller (I’m not sure how I managed to keep my sanity during THAT time, but I pray for my husband who was always by my side and even took vacation for the first couple of months to help me go through this tough time). Then he never slept well, I was constantly breastfeeding and panicking over low milk supply (although, I didn’t have one). I didn’t feel like I was myself. It was hard to embrace that somebody needed me so much that I would give my whole self and make my personality vanish.
It felt like that. But it wasn’t quite that. It was my apprehension that came from FALSE EXPECTATIONS of how motherhood should look like.
I thought that everything was wrong. I was doing something wrong. My baby was weird. My husband couldn’t meet my requirements. Too much stress. To many changes. It was always SOMETHING that was not right. But the reality was that everything was the way it should have been. The problem was me and my false expectations. What I should have done is embraced everything I was going through and let go. God, would I have been happier if I did.
So if you feel like nothing is going the way it should and stress over it, just stop. Try to adjust your expectations and remember: all the difficulties will pass eventually.