Forty percent of mothers have a difficult or very difficult time with motherhood.
That’s a lot! Especially mothers who set the bar high (and most of them are) have a hard time. You know how important a secure attachment is and you want to offer that to your child so badly. I know it all too well: no matter how much I love being a mother, and how fantastic I think our children are, these years are also tropical years. It’s not always fun.
The good news is: taking care of yourself IS taking care of your baby. If you feel good, you are a safe and stable basis for your child. So you ensure a secure attachment. Here my tips to keep your tank filled:
1) Do whatever it takes
What gives you energy? What did you like to do before your baby was born? Listening to beautiful music, a hot shower, a cup of tea, taking care of yourself in the bathroom for half an hour, calling a friend. Some things you can fit in very easily, you just have to think about it!
Other things require a little more organization: your husband can carry the youngest around one evening so that you can participate in the yoga or singing club again, or you can have a wonderful massage. Simply sewing or crafting at home for an evening is the ultimate relaxation for other mothers. My personal favorite is eating out with my husband :-). Now that is possible, while the oldest two babysit the youngest, but I also really liked it with a breast baby. No stress whether things went well at home, and you can simply tie a hammock under the table from the sling.
2) Get what you can get
Sleep deprivation is a parenting reality and you have quite a bit of reserve in that regard, but there is a limit. An overtired mother is a cranky mother. Prevent it from getting that far and get sleep where you can get it. Going to bed with the baby in the evening feels uncomfortable, but the next day you feel so much better that you just make up for everything with your cosiness :-). And if the baby sleeps during the day, you don’t HAVE to do the housework!
3) Your relationship is number 2 (after yourself of course)
It is no fun: half the marriages are now stranded. Very often this is in the first year after the arrival of the baby. Shocking, not only because a healthy relationship is so important to your baby, but also because afterwards both partners are on their own and lack each other’s support. It is of course best to invest in your relationship in advance and to prepare well together for the tough time that awaits you. Make sure you are open to each other’s perception, that you listen – you can practice empathy with your child and with your partner and it is contagious. And if you still notice that it is no longer possible to reach each other, seek help as soon as possible. I think this is a wonderful book about this . We have a lot of use here at home!
4) Say YES
ALWAYS accept help! If you find it difficult to accept help for yourself, accept it for your child. If you are relieved, you have more time to spend on him/her. There is nothing better than a cooked meal, a clean house or a stocked refrigerator to feel relaxed. And: there will come a time when you can give something back. You can of course also request paid assistance. In other cultures there is often much more support from young parents. For example, in many countries, it is common for the maternity period to last 6 weeks and during that time there is always someone in the house to take care of the mother and baby. And even after that, the well-known saying: “it takes a village to raise a child”.
Parents who are in the same phase as you can give you another kind of support, just as important: recognition. For example, research has shown that an online breastfeeding group makes mothers feed longer.
And support from your partner is completely life-saving, both practical and emotional. Nothing
as moving as a man who cherishes you and your baby. And that is immediately good for number 3: Brazilian research shows that men who vacuum more often have more sex ;-).
5) Say NO
This is not the time in your life when you become a member of the parent committee, or take on extra jobs at work. Your time will come again.
6) Take care of your body – and your stress system
More and more research shows that sitting is unhealthy: our body is made to move, all day long. You don’t have to exercise intensively, but you feel so much better when you move. For example, start the day with at least 5 minutes of stretching/yoga and you can endure the morning rush much better. Walk around with the baby in the sling, leave the car, etc. The same applies to food: it is a pitfall to eat sugar and salt when you are tired. You feel better for a while, but afterward much more tired. Provide lots of healthy and quick snacks at home: snack tomatoes, bananas, cubes of cheese or unroasted nuts, for example. A scrambled egg is so fried, vegetables and broth in a pan is soup.
7) Be without principle
Most of us don’t have grandmothers or aunts to babysit so we can sleep in for a morning. TV has disadvantages, but in this case the advantages far outweigh them. Unfortunately, this tip usually only works after a few years :-(.
8) Look positively
A negative view makes you unhappy and causes stress. If your baby is crying and you see a little bastard who is deliberately keeping you awake, this evokes all kinds of nasty reactions. On the other hand, if you see an innocent and dependent creature that is not feeling well, then that is not only good for your baby, but also for yourself. We, humans, are social creatures, made to feel good when we feel empathy and can help others. Pep up yourself with the right information about babies’ development and what you can realistically expect from them at a certain age. I found a wonderful book in that respect: mothering your nursing toddler, written for slightly older children. Put up pep talk and nice spells around the house to remind yourself what you do it all for, when it isn’t that easy. Here are a few suggestions:
* “The days are long but the years fly by.” Gretchen Ruben
* Research on rats shows that the investment you make as a mother even pays off in how your children will take care of your grandchildren later on.
* Poster with all the benefits of breastmilk
* When do ‘normal’ babies sleep through the night?
* More tips from psychologist and AP expert Karen Wallant
And now I am curious about your tips: what keeps you going in a difficult period and how do you refill your tank? You can leave your comment below and who knows, it might be very useful to another mother!