Wow! There sure is a lot of pressure on mums these days! Not only do you have your own parents, and in-laws chiming in, but you also have friends, medical professional, and the internet’s opinion to deal with as well. This can make being a mother particularly stressful, and it can be hard to keep a cool head when instructions, many of them conflicting are coming at you from all angles. Something that can help you with this, however, is to look at each issue individually and find a strategy that works for you and your baby.
Lack of sleep
One of the biggest challenges of being a mum is that not only do you have a tiny human that relies on you for their every need, but also you have to tend to them on way less sleep than you are used to!
After all, if you read any health article, getting the right amount of sleep is one of the top things they always stress to stay happy and sane! Sadly a lot of rest isn’t an option that many mothers, new or otherwise get, so what are they meant to do?
Well, one strategy you can use is recognising that after a while you will adapt to less sleep, something that many new mums report. However, it is worth noting that your mood made suffer in the meantime, and this is entirely natural!
It’s always worth noting that when your baby is small, napping when they sleep can be a fantastic way of topping up the amount of sleep you get as well. No, it won’t be the same as having an unbroken 8-9 hours a night, but it may just be enough to keep you functioning and relatively happy. To that end, it’s best to de-prioritise keeping the house immaculate, and put sleep and your own well being first.
Deciding on your parenting style
While not an immediate concern when you have just had a baby something that you will want to consider when you become a mum is the parenting style that you and your partner will use as your kids grow up.
A significant issue here is the difference between parenting from a place of fear and a place of love. When parenting from a place of fear, the concern is often that you are not perfect, or good enough at being a parent for your kids, and that you must swoop in and sort out any potential problems immediately lest their whole life be ruined.
However, parenting from a place of love means that not only you act in line with this feeling when interacting with your children, but you also apply it to yourself as well. Something that allows you to give yourself compassion, and enables you to trust in the process of life and the abilities of your child to navigate their own way, and deal with problems as they arise.
Of course, parenting from love doesn’t mean that you ignore an imminent danger or problem. However, it does mean that you recognise somethings are a part of our universal experience as humans, and as such, and by over protecting our children we actually deny them the opportunity to grow and learn to cope on their own.
That is not to say however that parenting in this fashion isn’t difficult at times, and it can be made even more challenging by the family situation you find yourself in. After all, if you are you SO aren’t getting along, matching up your parenting styles can be difficult, and if you are divorced and co-parenting it can be even tougher.
Happily, there are things you can do to lift this burden at least a little including leaving all the legal wrangling to the family law solicitors, something that can help you and your ex stay on good terms. The team over at Peters and May wrote an article about how children are taken into consideration during the divorce process, among many other articles, that you may find a useful read during this difficult time. Staying on good – or, at least, civil – terms with your ex is something that can make it far easier to communicate, stay sane, and support each other in the way you wish to parent, despite the situation that has arisen between you both.
Everyone has an opinion on how to raise your child
Urgh! One thing that can drive you around the bend when you have kids is the fact that everyone else in the world thinks they are experts on raising children, even the ones that haven’t actually got children themselves!
In fact, it can be incredibly tricky to smile as a loved one or even a total stranger lectures you on the pitfalls of the dummy, bottle, or nappies you are using.
Of course, for sanity’s sake here it’s best if you can let it all wash over you, and take what others say with a pinch of salt. After all, what was best for them may not be the right choice for your situation, and that is OK.
Of course, this is hard to do because not only do you care about your baby and want the best for them, but there is a certain amount of emotional vulnerability that comes with being a new mum, making it harder to let things go in the way you would in your normal everyday life.
The key here is to be as kind and compassionate to yourself as possible, and if you feel the need just excuse yourself from the situation. Remember you are mum, and no one knows your baby as well as you do, and you are under no obligation to take on board any advice whether it’s solicited or not.
Other mums that like to compare progress
Do you know what can make you feel absolutely crud with minimal effort? When other mommy friends talk about how advanced, and smart their babies are. Yes, their child may well be able to sit up earlier than everyone else’s, read quicker, and even start to potty train faster, but it’s not actually a competition or a race! After all, babies tend to do things at the time they are ready, and each baby is different.
In fact a lot of the time when a mum is boasting about their child’s achievements in this way it’s more about her needing a boost in self-esteem than anything else. Of course, this is really daft because most of the time it’s not anything that the mum or dad are actually doing that expedites their development. It is just Baby’s natural tendencies, and it doesn’t necessarily correspond to any progress later on either.
Therefore, the best thing to do in such a situation is to take what they are saying with a pinch of salt and try not to get involved in any one-up-man-ship. You may not be able to stop it altogether, but you can certainly choose not to fan the fire, and minimise it where possible.
Organise your time on maternity leave
Many women look forward to maternity leave as an opportunity to dedicate themselves to something other than their job and even rethink their career and priorities. However, it may not always be a positive experience than they expect, especially when it comes to managing their time.
In fact, deciding what to do with your time when on maternity can be challenging and confusing, especially if Baby is struggling to get into a routine, or not sleeping well, and you are exhausted.
To that end, don’t feel as if you have to maintain a military style routine of going to every mum and baby group in your local area if that isn’t what you want.
Similarly, make sure to get out and about at least a little because not only will this help to socialise your baby and get them used to the world outside their own front door, but it can be great for your own mental health as well. Mostly it all about finding a balance that works for you, something that may not necessarily be the same from one day to the next.
To work or not to work?
Mums and work is a significant issue for most women after they have had a baby. Of course, you have all the different opinions out there including that women should go back to work full-time as soon as possible, or that they should give up their careers and be a full-time mother, as well as everything in between.
What this myriad of options should tell you is that there is not actually a single right answer here. In fact, it is all about what suits you as a mum.
Also, remember that you may make a decision such as going back to work full time and after a while realise that it isn’t working for you. That is OK too because you have never been in this situation before, so you can actually be expected to know exactly what will fit.
In fact, don’t be surprised if you work situation, once you become a mum need some fine tuning as it progresses. Something you may be able to achieve with flexible hours, a different start and finish time, the option of working remotely a few days a week or even going part-time. What is crucial here is to remember that it is what you want and will work for you that will keep you sane while navigating the challenges of motherhood.