How To Keep Your Sanity - Tips For New Moms
Being a new mommy is tough. When I gave birth to my daughter, I was 34. I had been in the workforce for many years and was financially independent. When I decided to stay home after she was born, I realized nothing I’d ever done in my life previously, had prepared me for this next phase…Motherhood! Staying at home with a newborn was and out-of-body experience for me and the post-partum depression didn’t help. Basically, I had never had any one thing this dependent on me…ever, so I put a ton of pressure on myself to be perfect. I would like to share with you a few things I learned that helped me keep my sanity during the early years.
1. Give yourself a break. You are not perfect and you are going to make mistakes. Try not to beat yourself up when you make a mistake, just learn from it and move on. I remember when I accidentally smashed Claire’s finger in the door. The door wasn’t closing so I kept pushing on it and in an instant, screams rang out and I realized her finger was between the door and the frame. For the next few days, I felt terrible. I soon realized that if I’m going to make it through the next 20 years with my sanity, I’d better give myself a break when things like this happen. There were certainly plenty of things I messed up, but I put rules in place so I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice…or three times, alright four! Did I mention I’m not perfect?
2. Pay attention to your own needs. It’s all about balance. If you repeatedly focus only on your child’s needs all day, every day, soon you will be babbling along with your baby and the ability to formulate an intelligent sentence will be a distant memory. Make a list of things you enjoyed doing before your baby was born. Set a reminder at the same time every day to take 10-20 minutes to do one of your favorite things. Force yourself to pay attention to your own needs. Try not to define your parenting prowess by how much you are willing to sacrifice for your child. Instead, show your child that great moms live balanced lives.
3. It’s okay to admit you don’t have the answers. Read books and ask other moms about their experiences. Most women I know are more than willing to “share”…sometimes ad nauseam, and that’s okay because you will always take away something useful. Sometimes it often turns into a “therapy” session and you quickly discover that the shirt you’ve been wearing for the last 3 days doubles as a tissue when things get emotional. Those are times when you can use each other for much needed support. You may even learn what NOT to do; which sometimes can be even more helpful. Gather as much information as you can and figure out what works for you.
4. Join a playgroup…or do as I did and start one of your own. When Claire was about 6 months old, I approached moms with babies and toddlers and asked if there were playgroups in our area. Since there were none I decided to start one of my own. I typed up a flyer that said “Hey come join our playgroup” and strolled around the neighborhood in search of homes that had visible signs of children. By the time I got back home, there were 2 voicemails from moms who were interested in joining. I also joined a Mommy-n-Me class through the park district. I met a few more women and we formed another playgroup. I was busy with things to do a few times a week. These playgroups impacted my life in several ways. To say they “saved my life” seems a bit dramatic, but I can’t find any other way to describe how they helped me acclimate to motherhood. It also helped my child learn valuable developmental skills, including how to defend herself against our resident biter...”use your words Carter”.
5. Mommy’s Helpers. Start training a pre-teen NOW! Make sure they understand your expectations. You may even consider putting it in writing. When you feel comfortable enough to leave your child alone with someone other than a family member, you will have this person already trained and ready to be alone with your child for a few hours. You will then have a bit more freedom to do things you enjoy in order to maintain your own happiness. My advice; set yourself up to have the flexibility to take care of your own needs because no one is going to do it for you. My (then) husband was gone a lot and I was desperate for some alone-time so I had several teenagers I trusted (and respected their parents) enough to leave my precious child in their care. Stop whining that you don’t have any help and take matters into your own hands ladies!
6. Mommy’s Night Out. The play group mommies became good friends and we started getting together a few evenings a month for cocktails and/or dinner. Most of us were SAHM’s(stay at home mom) so we tried to be frugal by going to places that had coupons or specials. Some ate at home with their families and met later for cocktails. It was never a huge expense because the main idea was to give each other support and have some fun away from our kids!
See my post on how to raise a smart confident child http://www.edifymeblog.com/home/parenting/how-to-raise-a-smart-confident-child