When you were pregnant, all your energy, thoughts and resources went into feeling as good as you possibly could, and into your impending birth! Your mind wasn't that focused on how you were going to manage life once baby arrived. No doubt you thought you were going to sail through this thing called motherhood. You bought all the gear...you looked excitedly at the buggy system you had just invested massively in. You knew that some babies could be 'tough going', but yours would be cool. You and your partner would be able to deal with the baby's arrival. You were looking forward to spending those first couple of weeks together as a new family going out for brunches, little walks and spending quality time together. The change in your relationship would be for the better, and 6 months off work seemed like great craic...sure how would you even fill your days? Think of all those lunches and coffees you could have, right?!
Eh ehhh (introducing sound of incorrect buzzer), the reality then hits you like a ton of bricks. What the hell is this? I haven't signed up for this! The loneliness of motherhood, the long days, the total exhaustion, the tears, the trying to figure out some sort of routine for baby, the vast quantities of milk and poo all over the place...what is going on?!
I'm telling you that it's ok to not feel ok sometimes. It's ok to have negative thoughts sometimes...they aren't your truths, they are just silly things that can be flicked away at a moment's notice and replaced with more positive ones. Acknowledge that some days are going to be challenging as a new mama. You will be exhausted sometimes and therefore will feel emotional, overwhelmed and maybe even a sense of 'I can't do this'. But there will be glorious days filled with gummy smiles and giggles too, and they will get you through :-)
In those challenging moments, or moments which turn to hours or days, how do you keep your sh*t together? Here are 10 things that I have done to help me in the past...I hope they help you too!
Say Yes! Women are controlling - yes we are. Particularly when it comes to our babies. But we CAN'T do it all. We need help. That help might come from a simple kind gesture from someone who holds the door open for you and your pushchair. Or it's the generous offer of assistance "can I do anything for you?". Say Yes! Any friend who asks can they do something - accept it! Give baby a bottle so I can sleep for an hour; bring baby out for a 45 minute walk so I can nap; bring a dinner; could you please collect my dry cleaning and I'll love you forever; can you babysit for 3 hours so I can get out and feel normal again; could you please hang that wash out which has been sitting in the machine for 3 hours...there are many ways to help...so just SAY YES!
Insist on Me Time - this is a NON-NEGOTIABLE time of the day or week when you must take baby/child-free time. Sit down with your partner to discuss a good time which suits the family and then put it into both your diaries. It must happen every week. You will be a better mother, partner, woman for it. Suggestions could be getting out to a class, meeting a friend, taking a walk, going to the cinema, going for a nap. Do whatever fills you with joy. As I adore exercise, I will always suggest you take some exercise because your body and mind will feel awesome after it.
Create a Mantra - I suggest "I AM GOOD ENOUGH'. Mantras are not for woo-woo weirdos. Your subconscious mind is extremely pliable and it will do as you instruct it. But you need consistency. Every morning, look into that mirror, into that gorgeous woman's face who is looking back at you and say "I AM GOOD ENOUGH". I'm sick to the teeth of the pressures we experience as mothers in the modern day. We must be the perfect mother, our babies must 'sleep through the night', whatever that means, our children must eat a perfectly balanced meal three times a day, we must get back into our pre-pregnancy clothes within a few months. Well, you know what? Screw that. Let's stop being so hard on ourselves and on each other. We are doing our best, and our best is good enough. 'Nuff said.
Exercise - just get outside and walk. For me, it's running and yoga. But you don't have to commit to a run or some mad fitness class, but just get out, breathe in the air and move your body. Your baby, body, and mind will be grateful.
Take a breath - when emotions are high, calm it all down with 3 deep breaths. Close your eyes, inhale deeply, hold it, exhale long and slow. Repeat 3 times and feel your heart rate decrease = powerful.
Do nothing but 'be' - just sit down. Read a book for 30 minutes, lie down, stop focusing on the house or on chores that have to be done. Just be. Look at your precious baby, children and enjoy the memories.
Shower every day! Yep, I know there will be days when you just couldn't be bothered to get out of your PJs, but believe me, you will feel so much better and refreshed.
Practice gratitude - look at those gorgeous little monsters and give thanks. Even though motherhood is bloody hard work, there are a million women who would give their right arm to be in your place right now.
Book a date - a friend of mine's mother always says 'mind your marriage'...good advice!
Do one thing every day which makes you happy - this can be something small. Call a friend, buy a new mascara or a nail polish, sit down and breathe, grab some fresh air, go for a walk with your bestie, read a few pages of a book, take a 10-minute nap.
Helen Plass works with women and their birthing partners to achieve a comfortable, healthy & happy journey into Pregnancy, Birth, and Motherhood. She has built a successful business in Dublin, Ireland, as a Yoga Instructor, specializing in Pre- & Post-natal health and fitness, Active Birthing workshops, Baby Massage and Mama & Baby Yoga classes. She is known for her very practical & non-judgmental approach to pregnancy and the crazy times of motherhood! Helen has trained in the UK and Ireland, and is mega proud of coming first in her Yoga Teacher Training (she’s a bit of a swot) at the gorgeous Samadhi Studios in Dublin. She’s a proud wife, mama to two energetic little boys, former corporate marketing professional, keen runner and lover of all things related to sport…and is an avid supporter of Irish Rugby.
When she’s not becoming all teary and emotional with messages from her clients about their gorgeous births, you can find her walking along the rocks and beach with her boys, cheering on the sidelines of football and rugby pitches, experimenting with essential oils, baking and preparing meals for the non-stop eating men in her life…and in general just trying to keep it all together. Check out all her communication at NurtureMamas.com, and if you are in Ireland, her local business www.mumandbaby.ie