Becoming a mother, especially for the first time, can be an overwhelming process. It brings along a whole bunch of emotions; joy, fear, love, anxiety and (notoriously) lack of sleep. The first few months, and sometimes years, can become consumed with tending to another human being’s needs. Almost every hour you ask yourself, ‘Does he/she need to sleep, eat, play, be changed? Should I talk to them or let them play independently for a bit?’ For some mothers it can mean putting their own needs to the side for a while. Having a leisurely shower can now seem like a luxury. This is all completely normal when caring for a little one. You do, however, need to find a healthy balance between taking care of yourself and your child and family.
Accept Help: As a new mom you may feel you want to do everything for your child. Of course this is completely natural; however, depending on the type of support network you have it can also become overwhelming. It’s a good idea to accept help whenever possible. It doesn’t have to be someone taking care of your child, like a nanny. You can accept offers of babysitting, grandparents bathing the baby or friends bringing food. The small things can and do add up.
Delegate: Many times close friends and family may want to help, but don’t know what you need. One way to help yourself and accept their offer to help is to delegate needed tasks to them. If a close friend is visiting and offering help let them know they can do the dishes, load the laundry or help you prep baby’s food. A great gift friends can give you is offering to clean your house for you, or by doing your weekly grocery shopping.
Trust your Spouse: Most moms have a pretty clear idea of how things should be done with baby, and oftentimes dads seem to think differently. While this may sometimes drive you crazy and make you feel as if you need to do everything yourself, that’s not the healthy thing to do for yourself, baby or spouse. Fathers need a chance to have their own experience with the baby and figure their own way out together. If your husband wants to help out and participate in caring for baby, let him! Trust your spouse and give him a chance. It may be hard in the beginning, especially if your baby calls for you or cries, but trust me he may surprise you!
Let go: There are many parenting books out there that promote putting your baby on a schedule. This is more likely to add stress to your daily life as you try to maintain that strict routine. Instead of a strict schedule, go for a flexible daily routine with general expectations of when meal time, nap time and awake time will be. Take the time to slow down and check your baby’s signals. If they’re hungry they’ll let you know, or if they nap less than usual one nap, they’ll most likely nap longer the next time. Same rules apply for mealtime.
Guilt Free: One of the biggest challenges most mamas have is having guilt-free time for themselves. Ask yourself, is your baby with someone you trust, where you know they will enjoy themselves and be taken care of? Do you need this time to rest, relax, work or feel better? If you don’t get this time will you be more stressed, sad or tired? If you do get this time will you have more energy and feel happier after? You may be missing out on a few hours here or there with your baby, but you do deserve this time for yourself whether it is to nap, go out with a friend or choose to go back to work. It can be an amazing feeling to talk to another adult again, or just sit in silence and relax. Whatever makes you happier you should do it. Remember that a happy mama makes a happy baby, and you both deserve that!