1. Asking for help and support
Somewhere along the way, modern women have been culturally trained to not ask for help, to show everyone that they’re strong and independent. When it comes to taking care of a baby, the phrase ‘it takes a village’ was coined for a reason. You’re not supposed to be doing this alone. You just gave birth! You’re physically and emotionally recovering, you’re sleep-deprived, your hormones are all over the place, and you’re trying to navigate the many highs and lows of new motherhood.
Do this instead: Ask your partner to bring you water when you’re feeding, and to be on nappy duty if you’re on feeding duty during the night. Accept all offers of meals or help around the house when you have family and friends visit.
2. Taking care of yourself
It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the day’s chaos, feeling like you’re taking more steps backwards than forwards, that you will probably forget your own needs. You will soon find that you’re spreading yourself thin, pouring every bit of energy and patience into caring for your little one (as well as everyone and everything else). But, how can you expect to care for anyone else when you’re not taking care of yourself?
Do this instead: True self-care can be found in the small daily moments with your baby. It’s making the choice to build an enjoyable life that you don’t need to escape from. Here is our list of simple self-care ideas to practice daily.
3. Feeling your emotions
Mama, we give you permission to feel whatever emotions you’re feeling. You’re allowed to feel exhausted after being up all night feeding. You’re allowed to feel touched out. You’re allowed to feel like you need a break. You’re allowed to love every second of it. You’re allowed to feel sad that it wasn’t what you expected. You’re allowed to grieve for the pre-baby you. You’re allowed to enjoy sitting on the couch watching TV all day while you snuggle your baby. You’re allowed to feel worried that you’re worrying too much! You’re allowed to feel all of these things or none of these things. Your emotions matter, and this is your unique motherhood story.
Do this instead: Know that you’re not alone, and there are plenty of experts out there to help you through this time. Talk to other new mums about your emotions, and you just might find that they feel, or have felt at some stage, exactly the same way.
3. Needing time to yourself
Alone time is a necessity, not a luxury. If you don’t carve out some time to yourself, you may soon experience parental burnout, feelings of overwhelm, resentment, anger, isolation, and a loss of a sense of self. In fact, a loss of friend and family support is believed to increase the risk of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. This is something you need to take seriously, so ditch the guilt that you need a little breather.
Do this instead: Brainstorm with your partner or friends/family about how you can get some time alone. Try something simple, like reading, going for a walk around the block, journaling, having a bath or long shower, or watching a movie that you really want to see.
4. Taking a day off and ditching the routine
Do you sometimes feel like you just want to stop the monotony that comes with mum life? The endless washing, cooking, tidying up, the errands…wash and repeat. Just like wanting time for yourself, and taking care of yourself, it’s okay to want to take a day off every now and then. It’s okay to want to work solely so that you have some time to yourself. It’s okay if you want to leave your baby with your partner or other trusted family member so that you can do something you enjoy.
Do this instead: If it’s not possible to leave your baby for that long, you can have a day off WITH your baby. Ditch the routine entirely, and make it a day about you. Skip the grocery shopping, and instead go on a lunch date with your baby. Or, have a friend over and Netflix-binge, get a meal delivered, all while you both take it in turns to snuggle baby.
An effective antidote to mum guilt
You don’t have to let guilt, fear, and shame control your parenting experiences. Notice when those feelings strike, take a deep breath, and respond to yourself with kindness. Replace those negative thoughts with positive ones, something like ‘Wanting time to myself makes me selfish’, with ‘I’m a better mum when I have time to myself’.