The reality is, there is absolutely no solution to avoiding an emotional meltdown at some point after you’ve popped out your warm, cuddly little angel baby.
Whether it happens moments after you’ve squeezed out this giant watermelon from your body or a few months later when you’re covered in turd the color of mustard (or what they are now calling Gen Z Yellow), that meltdown is coming.
And you will inevitably then feel “mom guilt”.
You will question your mental stability. You will question how this tiny 8 pound creature who doesn’t do anything but eat, sleep, and poop could possibly be the cause for you to be one straw away from going bat crap crazy. As if you’re watching a movie on Netflix (remember those?), you see yourself beginning to unhinge, but somehow you just can’t grab the remote control quick enough to turn it off.
The good news?
You are still human despite feeling like a drunk sloth. A human that loves her child dearly and is adapting to this new role of putting somebody else first. Every. Single. Second. Of. Every. Single. Day.
More good news?
There are ways to minimize these meltdowns and work through your emotions to build a positive experience for you and your family the way you, once upon a time, pictured it in your head before you actually became a parent.
Here are 7 secrets to surviving and enjoying your baby’s first 3 months of life at home. It’s possible, I promise. I am living, breathing proof. I have played the star role in this tear-jerking movie many of times, which brings me to this conclusion with great conviction:
1. Accept that it’s hard and that it will get harder before it gets easier. Once you fully accept that you’re not doing everything wrong, but that this season of life is actually that difficult, you will be more mentally relaxed to face the challenges. Accept that you will be at times emotionally and physically exhausted. Accept that things will go wrong at times. Accept that you will make mistakes. Accept that you will learn from those mistakes. Accept that you will succeed at being the best darn parent to that sweet, little cherub. Everything takes time.
Nobody said it will be easy, but it will be worth it. And if they did. They lied.
The forecast is “scattered showers” for the next few months. You might get drenched at times, so just do a little dance and splash around. The reward is little rainbows along the way that will guaranteed, melt your heart.
2. Enlist help. Nobody is expecting you to be a martyr. Eat well. Replenish. You are the Mommy and there is no doubt you will be leading the show. You will be tempted to be the Super Mom that you are in all her glory without giving your body the rest it needs. Your body has housed this absolute miracle and then has undergone intense measures to debut this beauty to the world. Give gratitude to your body by allowing it to heal. Nourish yourself so you can nourish your child. And sometimes that means you need to enlist help.
Find a Mother’s Assistant if you can afford it. Enlist family and friends for some babysitting and meals. Lean on those around you to support you and your family.
Then take it one step further.
Try to remember who you were just a few weeks before you became a mom. What were your interests and hobbies? What did you do to relax and unwind? What made you happy before you experienced this new form of happiness with your baby?
Find a way to bring that back into your day, even if it’s just for 15-20 minutes. Do some yoga stretches if that is what takes you to your happy place. Do you love to sing? Are you an avid reader? Does doing your hair put a bounce in your step?
Allowing yourself to pull from your “old Self” into this new experience of motherhood will be comforting and rejuvenating.
3. Set daily goals and keep them small and achievable. When baby takes over your life, it’s easy to feel like a hot-mess. You know in a past life you were a fully, functioning adult that was able to accomplish more than taking a shower but it’s almost hard to remember her.
Write down goals for the day that are achievable. They can be as simplistic as “Eat a balanced meal”. “Do one load of laundry”. “Make a phonecall to a friend/family member.”
Cross off these goals as you accomplish them. Since you are mommin’ so hard day and night, it will feel satisfying to know that you were able to be productive outside of this new role.
As time goes on, your daily goals can become more detailed or ambitious. The key is to feel accomplished.
As much as you know keeping a tiny human-being alive all day is the most important job in the world, knowing you were able to that and more will feel satisfying.
4. Keep the social outlets open because it’s easy to become isolated. You were probably going to some type of workplace before you had your baby and now you’re on maternity leave or maybe you’ve decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Not only have you just acquired a brand new job with responsibilities far greater than any other job description (i.e. Keep Human Alive…yeah, that’s a big one), but now it’s just you and your baby. As much as that sweet pea’s coos are precious, you are really going to need to hear another human’s voice that sounds more than a little gargle.
Find a mom’s group. Invite a friend over for a playdate. Try to keep a decent spread on the social calendar, despite the temptation to throw in the towel. Your friends and family will lift you and pull you forward.
Does this mean start hosting potlucks every weekend? Oh, heck no.
But keep the communication lines open with family and friends, because this will energize you when the going gets tough. I unexpectedly made a group of SAHM friends once I had my baby and it was the biggest blessing because we were on similar schedules and I had people to talk to throughout the day, even if it was just through text messages.
Also, know that some of your current friends simply may not understand the changes you are going through, and that’s okay. But you do need to find a tribe that can relate and help you recharge. They are out there, you just need to be open to receiving.
5. Take a deep breath. Say I love you. Put your child in a safe place. Walk away for 1 minute. Give yourself a time-out. When you have tried everything- changing a diaper, giving milk, rocking, swaying, playing music, pulling out different toys, running the sound machine, taking a walk outside, singing a song, and whatever else you can think of that would look completely absurd to an onlooker (and you secretly thank God nobody is watching)—it’s time to walk away. Changing sceneries and being in silence may inspire a new solution, so give yourself a time-out. Don’t feel guilty about it. You are doing it to be the best version of yourself for your baby.
When your laptop freezes and you’ve tried every darn key on that keyboard, you finally hold down that power button for a few seconds, and voila—back in business.
Hold down your power button for a minute. It’s okay.
6. Openly communicate with your spouse/partner. At the end of the day, this is your person. When the tensions are high, and the sleep quality is low, the first person to end up in the line of fire is the beloved spouse/partner. When hormones are flailing and your milk jugs are leaking and your husband can’t remember where he put the burp cloths, you can’t help but unleash the dragon. But remember, this man right here is trying to help you and he’s also going through some major changes himself. Let him know how you’re feeling and be direct about how he can support you.
Dads, cut your lady a little slack…she has performed no less than a miracle to deliver this child and now her body is adjusting. It’s called 4th trimester. She needs you in the same way she’s needed you in the last 9 months. Remember those foot rubs you were doling out just a few weeks ago? Keep them coming. You think you’re being helpful by taking the baby for a feeding and doing diaper changes, but remember, your wife needs you too. Ask her how she is doing. Give her some extra hugs. Tell her she’s doing a good job. Communicating and being there for her is just as important as pitching in with your new responsibilities as parents. Trust me, this will go a long, long way.
7. Remind yourself that this is just a phase and it will get better. And no, you don’t have to love every second. Being a new mom is hard. People will tell you to cherish every moment.
Let’s be real.
Who is thinking to themselves when the baby is incessantly crying when you’ve tried everything under the sun, “Oh man, I’m really going to cherish this right here. Because I’m going to really miss this.
It’s okay to not cherish every single second of the day. Don’t feel guilty for it. You are human and this doesn’t mean you love your child any less than those “other moms”.
It is however important to have gratitude for the peaceful moments with your baby. To cherish the cuddles, the new little movements and quirks you will discover each new day. To surrender to the deep love you are now experiencing which you didn’t even know existed in the world. And to be open to learn about yourself because you are growing just as quickly as your little baby.
Having gratitude is what will allow you to get through the hard times.
There you have it. A laundry list of ways to successfully survive those first few months after you’ve welcomed your newest and cutest family member.
Be kind to yourself. Allow help. Take breaks. Have gratitude. You have got this, my dear. You’re strong like a Mother.
Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression should always be addressed with a trusted healthcare professional. The thoughts and ideas in this article are not meant to be used as medical advice.