I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: momming is hard. Parenthood is hard. Taking care of a child day in and day out is tough, and it can be especially rough in the beginning.
(Some moms have it easier than others, but it’s still not easy no matter how “easy” your baby is)
The first few weeks for new moms is all about survival. Feeding a baby – however you do it – every two or three hours around the clock is a form of torture, especially if you don’t manage to get some sleep every now and again. But this is only one reason why this period of time is known as the 100 Days of Darkness.
During this time you will get to know your baby (who is pretty much a stranger who has taken over your life) and discover yourself as a mother but you will also lose sight of the other version of yourself, the pre-baby you. You will become a feeding, burping, sleeping machine and you will forget what it’s like to have a conversation which involves actual words, to drink a hot cup of tea, or what you like to do in your free time (because you won’t have much of it and now whatever you do will have to be baby-friendly).
The best thing you can do for yourself at this time, is to look after yourself. No one can do that for you, but they can help – you just have to ask.
If you are lucky enough to have *grandparents around (not yours, the baby’s), use them. Ask them to look after your baby for a couple hours while you have a nap, take a shower or go for a walk. Even just 10 minutes to pack the dishwasher if that’ll help your state of mind. If you don’t have grandparents, ask a good friend. People like being able to help and if they don’t know what to do they’ll just bring you biscuits and come for a cup of tea instead, when all you’ll really want to do is curl up on the couch and close your eyes for 20 minutes.
Looking after yourself means looking after your baby. Taking some time away from your baby is crucial. You don’t have to be away for long and it can be while you’re baby is sleeping if that makes you feel better. For you to be a good mom you need to be the best version of yourself, a happy you excited to share your life with this little creature, not a sad, shell of your self who can’t remember what the sky looks like.
It takes a village to raise a child is an African proverb which is just as true in rural Kenya as it is in downtown New York. Use your community to get the support you need to be the best mom you can be.
*I haven’t mentioned husbands/partners here because I assume they’re in the thick of it with you, supporting you as best they can.
About the Author:
Kirsten is wife to the Beard and mom to 11-month-old Baby J and mini-daxie Bacon. Oh, and she’s an English teacher, writer and blogger. She has no idea what she’s doing when it comes to motherhood, but likes to drink good wine and this seems to help.