I dreamed of becoming a mother for years. There was literally nothing else in life that I aspired to as a young adult; I had no career aspirations earlier in life.
I can remember conversations I’d had with my own mother and other, slightly older friends who had already had children. They warned me not to rush into motherhood. That it would change my world.
Of course, I understood this in theory, but their warnings annoyed me. How could something so meaningful and so beautiful be something to be warned about.
Then I had my first baby and I finally understood what their warnings held. They were not trying to tell me NOT to have kids, just to make sure I was really ready for my world to change so completely.
I, like many first time parents, was shocked at just how demanding this little human being could be. At what this all meant for ME as a person and what life now looked like. How all-consuming motherhood was, especially in the first days & weeks, but honestly for years to come.
Sanity can be a slippery slope as a parent, especially in the postpartum period**.
Remembering back to the first few weeks after my first was born, I recall conversations I had with other new moms. We’d chat by phone or get together for some much needed company. The traditional niceties would be exchanged:
“How are you doing? How are things with your baby?”
And inevitably, these women would reply with something like:
“Great, how about you?”
To which I’d think to myself, WTF is wrong with me? Why don’t I feel great? Why don’t I feel as happy as she sounds?
So let’s start right there, shall we? I’ve put together a list of 10 sanity savers for parents that I hope will prove to be inspirational as you navigate the often choppy waters of the postpartum period.
10 Postpartum Sanity Savers
- Be honest, both with yourself & with others, when you aren’t feeling “great”. When someone asks you how you are doing, answer honestly. If you are talking with other parents of young babies, you’ll be doing both of you a favour by telling it like it is. You’ll be inviting an open dialogue about the real challenges of parenthood so that you can offer each other peer support!
- Spend some time preparing for postpartum life. We spend so much time preparing for the birth of a baby and the “stuff” we’ll need to care for our baby, but how much time do we really spend preparing emotionally & strategically for life with our baby? Not sure where to start? I offer a postpartum planning workshop for couples to attend together before their baby arrives. You can learn more about my “Baby is Coming” workshop on my events page here.
- Babywearing! I can’t tell you what a world of difference I felt between baby #1 who I didn’t wear until he was old enough to go in a baby backpack & baby #2 who I wore almost from day 1. It’s called “hands-free parenting” and it was a LIFESAVER! If you’re in the Ottawa area, you can check out two wonderful, local stores who sell a variety of carriers and who have knowledgable staff to help you! The Extraordinary Baby Shoppe in Hintonburg and Milkface in Westboro.
- Build your village! We’ve all heard the term “It takes a village”, but it’s not as easy to fall in line with this philosophy in this busied culture where we aren’t necessarily living next door to our best friend or sister who is also home with young children. We need to actively seek out opportunities to connect with others who are in the same season of life as we are. I’ve created a list of *some* options (both free & paid) in the Ottawa area for you here.
- While on the topic of building your village, I’m proud & honoured to share that I’ve partnered up with the owner of the Kneaded Touch Women’s Clinic in Barrhaven to offer a FREE, monthly postpartum women’s circle. This is an opportunity to gather with women to talk about the shared experience of mothering on a deeper level. You can learn more about these circles on my events page here.
- Try removing the word “should” from your vocabulary so that you aren’t being so hard on yourself. See what it feels like to shift to the word “could” in its place.
- Follow your parenting instincts! People love to share their opinions on what’s best, but ultimately you know what’s best for YOU and YOUR FAMILY. Going with your own flow will diminish your struggles. Otherwise, you may find yourself going against your own grain which increases your struggles.
- Hire a postpartum doula. I had to sneak that one in here because they can do so much for you! 😉
- Enjoy wine o’clock! Did you know that it’s ok to consume moderate amounts of alcohol if you are breastfeeding? So go ahead and indulge once in a while if this is something you enjoy doing to relax & unwind!
- Please, for the love of all things good, don’t compare yourself to others! First of all, they may look like they have their s*** together, but they might not in reality. Secondly, you are YOU, you aren’t someone else. You have your own strengths, weaknesses, gifts, superpowers…
~ Love Note ~
I implore you to know that YOU are enough & more, just as you are!
These are but a few options to help you retain or regain your sanity in those crazy moments. It is my hope that this list helps to get your creative parenting juices flowing so that you find yourself feeling more sane & happy.
You don’t have to go it alone and you’ll almost definitely feel saner & happier if you don’t. I encourage you to try something new, broaden your strategies, and to reach out. I love to think that we’re in this together as a community!
** The postpartum period is commonly defined as the first 6 weeks after a baby is born. I like to extend this definition to the first year after a baby is born. I feel that 6 weeks doesn’t do justice to the amount of time it really takes to adjust to the addition of a new little being into our family unit.