While there are many challenges that await you in motherhood, one of the biggest shocks may be time management, or the feeling of being overwhelmed. As a new mom, the idea of taking care of yourself may feel impossible. Ensuring that you practice self-care might seem like the lowest of your priorities, but being rested and cared for yourself is an essential part of being a mom.
While it may feel overwhelming to even think about how to make sure you can take care of you, simple reminders, breaking things down and encouraging yourself to keep it important can help. Remember, if we keep mindful of these things, it actually helps ease the stress and helps us to be more productive and cope better with carrying the load. Below are some pointers that can help.
Prioritize Your Sleep
When it comes to caring for our mental health, the biggest need for a new mother is sleep. While it may not feel like the most convenient thing for multiple reasons, attempting to sleep when your baby sleeps could allow you to get some needed rest. If you’re worried that you won’t wake to baby’s cries, keep a baby monitor on your nightstand or bring the crib into your bedroom. Ignore the temptation to do chores while your baby sleeps, because it’s vital that you get your rest. If you REALLY struggle with that concept, another great option is giving yourself permission to alternate one day for chores and the next for rest and so on. And if you REALLY REALLY struggle with that concept start with one day of sleeping when your baby sleeps and build on that. The greatest things to keep in mind is that if YOU don’t fight for your rest, no one and nothing else can do it for you and being more vs less rested will actually enable you to be more productive and cope better with all that needs to be tended to. Our brains and bodies spiral quickly without sleep and of course you will already be starting from a deficit with a newborn. I recommend keeping this the first of your priorities for yourself during the first several months after baby.
Get Yourself Dressed
While it’s tempting to neglect yourself during this stage and any task of getting yourself showered, a fresh change of clothes or even a bathroom break will all be challenging with a newborn baby, neglecting these daily tasks of self-care can take a toll on your mental health. Encourage yourself to find creative ways to feel cared for. Use your favorite hat during this time, or your little’s car seat next to your shower. These little things will go a long way in coping and returning to a sense of normalcy after childbirth.
Give Yourself Permission To Accept Help
Regardless if you’re single or have a partner, trying to go it alone in caring for your baby is a big mistake. You may hate to ask for or accept help, but raising a baby is A LOT of work, even with help. Trying to do it all yourself does nothing but put unrealistic expectations on you, giving you feelings of guilt when you’re unable to accomplish the impossible. Choose other times to be stubborn and independent, but realize – this is NOT one of those times!
Allow your partner to make an equal effort when it comes to baby’s care, and refuse to feel guilty for enlisting the help of family and friends the first several months after giving birth. It is ok to ask for help with sleep, laundry, meals, errands, etc. Things will stabilize within the first year but adjust your expectations to be realistic and accept it takes time.
It is so important for new moms to have education and unbiased, positive support. A licensed professional therapist can help. Call my office at your earliest convenience, and let’s schedule an appointment to talk. I’d love to help ensure you have a good experience in this most precious transition to parenthood!