Adapting to a new way of life with a newborn can be daunting, scary and overwhelming. When I became a parent I was so in love with my new bundle of joy and completely shocked about how someone so little can totally turn your life upside down. Literally, overnight you assume a different identity, your balance is thrown off and your old life seems like a distant memory. Mamahood is a dramatic shift and effects every aspect of your life.
Being organised, having a routine and keeping the house ship-shape is something that I pride myself on. Becoming a mum is one of my greatest achievements and joys, however, I really struggled to adjust to the turmoil of having a little human to look after. Sometimes I was at my wit’s end because I couldn’t do what I wanted with ease (or at all), even getting round to doing the washing up became and issue and I was lost in a thick mama haze for some time.
Some of you may think that I sound completely selfish. How dare I think about myself, when I have my beautiful little boy to look after! However, my opinion is to the contrary: to be the best mum that I could possibly be I needed to look after myself too and there should be no guilt felt in that. During this major transition, it’s important to define some space for yourself. Being a mum doesn’t define you, it’s another life role that you’ve been blessed with and in order to do it well, you need to practice some self care and refind some sort of balance in your new reality.
Motherhood can overshadow your physical and mental wellbeing if you let it. You are your babies whole world and they are heavily dependent on you, it can be so easy to forget to look after yourself too. Giving yourself some breathing space just for you is essential so that you don’t become totally consumed by it.
At first, instilling a sense of self back into your every day may seem impossible. However, these top tips can help you inject some balance into your routine, hopefully, find some clarity and ease you into your new role without losing yourself.
Let go of your expectations
This was a tough one for me, admittedly I’m a bit of a Monica from friends when it comes to housework – you know everything has a place. I take pride in the way my house looks and the harsh reality of having a baby and not being able to do it all hit me hard. There were some days where the house looked like a complete mess and now that we have reached the toddler stage, it’s got progressively worse. Learning to lower my standards and just accept that the house is going to be messy regardless helped, but it was slow progress for me. Eventually, I just succumbed to the fact that this was going to be my new norm. Plus, what really helped is realising that the dishes can wait, but Aiden isn’t going to stay this small forever. I’m much more relaxed about things theses days!
Don’t fight your new role
Accepting your new life as a mother is pretty much the first step in adjusting your new role, things are never going to be the same again. Rather than trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole and still try to live your old life with a baby in tow, create space for your new identity and embrace it. Your entire world has been turned upside down. Naturally, it’s going to take time for things to settle and you find your new groove, but that’s OK.
A mindset shift is definitely needed when you become a mama as we tend to focus on everything that we have lost from our former lives. Practice thinking about your new role as a new adventure, being a parent can be empowering, a time of growth and simply wonderful.
Be flexible with your routine
Babies are inherently unpredictable by nature, it’s in their DNA. When you think you’ve got a routine down it can be thrown out the window. First thing first, try not to stress when things don’t go according to plan. Learning to be more flexible and kinder to myself is probably one of the things that stopped me from going crazy. It took some time for my type A personality to learn that it doesn’t matter if things don’t happen when I want them too, as long as my baby is fed and happy, everything else can happen later.
Make the Most of Nap Time
Typically, everyone tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps and on the rare occasion I did. However, I wanted to use this time productively and because I had to work this when I got things done. This may not be for everyone and like many taking a break and relaxing is a great way to find balance, but so can working through those tasks so you feel more on top of things – it’s amazing what you can get done in 45 minutes.
Find some mummy groups to join
Being a mum can be both isolating and I’m going to be honest here, at times boring. You’re left holding the baby all day and can spend a lot of time on your own. Making the effort to get to some playgroups and meet some other new mums saved my sanity, especially because we didn’t have any family close by. I have a lovely bunch of supportive mummy friends who I wouldn’t be without. They say it takes a village to raise a child and it’s true is so many ways.
Ask for help
Even if you wanted to, you can’t do it all any you will drive yourself mad from trying. Asking for help isn’t a sign of failure, in fact, it’s a brave step to acknowledge it. We tend to shy away from this topic and act like everything is normal despite the fact that we’re struggling, however, you will be actually surprised by how many people will be happy to help. If you need help with something, no matter how small, please ask because you will feel 100 times better for it.
Invest in Childcare
Not for everyone, but childcare really was a saving grace for me. I felt stagnant and like I couldn’t grow, so at 18 months old I put Aiden in for 2 half days a week and I felt like I could flourish and develop all the ideas that I had for my business. Not going to lie, it’s expensive but I see it as an investment in myself and my child. He’s come along so much since starting nursery a year ago and I’ve regained my sense of self and lost the majority of the mummy brain fog and it’s nice to focus on your own ambitions and needs for a while. Childcare has helped me no end, but looking at it as an investment rather than another bill to pay eases the financial blow.