The biggest surprise when I became a new mum was not the immediate change to my life, it was the almost instant loss of the person I was.
I was changed. Not just physically scarred or emotionally worn out. I had birthed a child into the world who was completely dependent on me. The emotions, the love, the vulnerability, the fear.
Motherhood was all so new.
But I didn’t expect to feel I had lost myself in the process. The person I was, with a career, marriage, social life, vision, dreams, had altered and it took awhile to get to know the new me. To figure out who I was as a mum, how I wanted to be. My priorities, purpose and passion had changed. Things that had once been important weren’t anymore.
“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” – Sigmund Freud
The adjustment to the new you in your new normal takes time, but here are 7 tips on transitioning through motherhood with as few bumps as possible:
As a new mum you are bombarded with advice and information from the Internet, shops, friends, family, health workers, midwives, and well-meaning passers by. It is total overload. You constantly worry you are doing “it right” when the reality is, you know your baby better than anyone, so really you just need to listen to your instinct.
Mother’s instinct is there for a reason, but with all the external noise you can forget to listen or you begin to question yourself. Take just 5 minutes at anytime of day, (you can do this at bedtime so there’s no excuse!), to calm the mind, slow your breath and connect head to heart. By taking a few minutes to meditate each day you give yourself the chance to reconnect with your inner guidance and strengthen that connection.
As a new mum your time is led by a newborn, and it is easy to forget yourself. But at least once a week take even just 30 minutes for yourself to do something that the ‘old you’ would have done. Delve into the person you were and bring little bits of joy and self-care into your week as the new you. You are your priority, your health is important, your sanity is important, your happiness is important.
Drop the mummy guilt for having time out investing in you is investing in being the best you can be.
Many, many new mums I have spoken to find this is one of the biggest challenges. The career they once coveted over and worked so hard to excel in is put on the back burner. They fear losing their ‘place’ yet are not ready or able to return to the position they were previously in. The transition back into their old or a revised role especially on a part-time capacity can be a stressful adjustment and you often lose confidence in your ability.
Many companies give you the option of working a day or two in your old job whilst you are on maternity, and this does actually help when you return to the office for your first day back: it softens the transition, you don’t feel so alienated because you have sporadically been there, and you are likely to be more confident in your ability to do the job.
If this isn’t possible and you are struggling with the thought of returning to work or have lost confidence and need to find a new job (or find yourself redundant), get a coach to support you as you transition back into the workforce.
Be Kind To Yourself
We put ourselves under so much pressure to do everything we did pre-baby; yet we have a whole heap of new responsibilities and chores. Attempting to be supermum does not help anyone when you’re multitasking and nothing is actually getting done.
Be kind to yourself and know you will make mistakes, but you will carry on and all will be well. Be kind to yourself and know the baby weight will eventually go, so learn to love your body as it is, it has just achieved an amazing task. Be kind to yourself and know that while your brain is fuzzy this is perfectly normal. Be kind to yourself and the words you say to yourself internally and externally. Remember, you are doing an amazing job, just as you are.
These expectations we (and society) puts on us is overwhelming, so lower your expectations of what you can manage to do on a daily basis, and you won’t feel like you’ve failed. Give yourself just one task each day so you are not stressed or overwhelmed. Accept that for a while your pace of life is slower, as newborns become babies and babies become toddlers you can adjust your workload accordingly. Right now, the dishes can wait and the finger marks on the mirror can stay there, and that’s ok.
Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make.
If you are finding you are drowning with the demands on a baby, running a house, maintaining a marriage, returning to work, having some form of social life, living off less sleep, attempting to live a healthy and active life, the list goes on. Then outsource! Even if you just pick one activity to outsource, you will give yourself some time back. Decide what is easy or affordable to give up, and where your time can be better spent.
Many of us start with the intention to be the (unobtainable) perfect mum, whatever that means! Stop the judgment of yourself; it’s ok to not do what you thought you would. And stop the judgment of others; you don’t know their story and they don’t know yours. Show love and compassion instead, we’re all doing our best.
“At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling” – Shanti
Motherhood, for all of its challenges, is the greatest gift. Here’s to building each other up, holding out a hand, a little nod and a smile.
Mums, we’re in this together.
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