Have you seen those idyllic photos of newborns, cuddled against their mothers? Or heard stories of moms who immediately felt bonded and in-love and sailed smoothly into the seas of motherhood?
Yeah, neither of those was me. I was CRAZY for months after having my first. Here are the kinds of insane ways I knew I was a new mom:
- I ordered my first beer at a bachelorette party just to see if it would help my milk supply.
- I heard birds chirping and thought, “who left the white noise app on?”
- I took the trash out in my bra, thinking I was fully dressed, because I was so used to being ready to nurse at a moment’s notice.
- I called the baby monitor manufacturer in great frustration when my monitor wouldn’t charge for months to find out what was wrong with it. Ah, batteries…
- I took instant coffee with me when I went stayed overnight with family because I knew I would be up HOURS before anyone else.
Anyone else resonate with the crazy? Whether we are clinically diagnosable or not, the transition to motherhood can be plain hard. Now, with 3 kids under my belt and a degree in clinical psychology, I (mostly) enjoy this whole motherhood thing, and I’d like to offer the following tips to new moms:
1) Take your expectations down a notch. Sometimes hard becomes harder when we beat ourselves up for not being able to do more, keep up with everyone else, or whatever. Let this season be what it is without “shoulding” all over it.
2) Prioritize. It is impossible to do everything you used to (or will again). Remember, this season will end, and it’s okay if your house isn’t perfectly clean or your laundry backs up for awhile.
3) Figure out what works for you and do it. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing (or tells you, uninvited, in the grocery store aisle that you should be doing). My husband and I slept in separate beds for 6 months (taking turns with the baby, he insists I clarify) after #2 and 3; we missed each other, but that was so much better than hating each other out of sheer sleep-deprivation. Other people think this is crazy, and that’s fine, but it worked well for us.
4) Take care of yourself. Seriously. I know it’s incredibly hard as a mom, especially with a newborn in tow, but find ways to refill your tank too. Your baby needs you to have something to give!!
5) Ask for help. Be specific with what you need. And guess what? Accept it when people try to help (even if it’s humbling or not exactly how you would do things). Also, contact a therapist or other professionals if needed.
Bottom-line? Be gracious with yourself (and your family). This too shall pass. And you’ll most likely be really grateful for this precious bundle in the long-run.
About the Author: Kristen M. White, Psy.D. is a licensed, clinical psychologist who resides in Southern California with her fantastic husband and three, vibrant children. She runs her own private practice (www.kristenmwhite.com), teaches full-time at the graduate level, and vlogs via “The MOM Degree,” where she provides free support and tools to help women feel less crazy and be more effective as moms (https://www.youtube.com/user/drkristenmwhite).