Whether you have just given birth or are a mother of 3 children, you are vulnerable to increased stress and worry. This could include: worries about money, concerns about your child's health, your child's progress in school, worries about being bullied, preparing to return to work or getting your child into the perfect daycare. Being a mom can be the most rewarding and exhausting job a woman can every take on. With additional life stressors, sleep deprivation and hormonal changes, you are more vulnerable to intensified anxiety, sadness and irritability.
These are 5 things you can try to better manage your stress.
It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the responsibility on your plate. As a stay at home mom, trying to start their own business while on maternity leave, I found it difficult to determine what needs to be accomplished first. Before, you start to figure out what is most important, take a breath. Enjoy a moment and your sip of coffee and figure out what is most important to complete in your day. This may just begin with holding your baby and breathing in their newborn smell or just getting dishes in the dishwasher. By setting priorities for the week, you may be less vulnerable to feeling overwhelmed.
When you are on the airplane with you baby on your lap, what does the flight attendant say in case of emergency? They say to put on your oxygen mask before your baby. Adjusting to parenthood with one baby vs. having two or three children can be difficult with many competing priorities. Taking a little time for yourself is very important to your mental health. When you take care of your own needs, you can be a better caregiver. Self care may look like booking a massage, taking a shower before you bathe your baby, making yourself a cup of tea, or even watching your own show instead of the Wiggles for the 100th time. Thinking of yourself is not selfish, it is critical to keeping you going.
Leaving the house after you have a baby or even a toddler is truly an adjustment. From poo explosions to inconsolable crying, it may feel easier to constantly cancel your plans. Don’t feel guilty for leaving the house and craving adult conversation. By making time to connect with non judgmental supportive friends and family, you will feel refreshed. Try planning a phone call, coffee date or even workout with a supportive friend.
Stop Making Unrealistic Comparisons
We have all had those friends, family or even acquaintances who talk about how they have the perfect baby, who sleeps all night at 7 pm and doesn’t wake up til the next morning, is able to stay in crib all night and breastfeeding was easy. It is unrealistic that every baby is like this everyday, every baby is different and every mom is different! Being a mom is sometimes about survival! Take on the strategy that works best for you. Stop comparing yourself to others and focus on the things you are doing well. Pay attention to the bond you are creating with your baby, it takes time.
It’s ok to ask for help. Transitioning to being a parent and being responsible for a tiny human or humans is not easy. It takes longer to complete tasks and it is easy to get overwhelmed with your daily routine. It is ok to ask for and accept help! Getting support from family and close friends can allow you to feel more refreshed and help you to enjoy your bonding with baby. So the next time your friend offers to hold your baby so you can finish your lunch or your sister offers to watch your kids so you can go on a date with your partner, say YES! This does not show weakness, this is you allowing yourself to be human.
B Healthy Counselling specializes in supporting women to learn healthier coping strategies to manage life stressors.
Samantha Attinello MSW, RSW, Psychotherapist is the owner of B Healthy Counselling. She has 15 years experience as a mental health professional. Her goal is to support women and couples to better manage life stressors by learning coping strategies and healthier communication. Contact email@example.com for more information.