Managing motherhood and you
At this point in the new mummy game, you might feel like you’ll never regain control. The dishes, the laundry, your hair - there’s just no way to keep up on everything. And now there’s also the looming stress of returning to work? There’s just no way to handle it all. And you’d be right, there is no possible way one person can handle everything. That’s why the first, and most important, thing you should do is to ask for help and get some rest.
Give yourself a break
Surprise! Motherhood, shockingly, doesn’t come with a red cape and a slew of magical abilities. (We’ll pause for you to call your mother and thank her. Don’t worry; we’ll still be here.) You now have a helpless little human who relies on you for absolutely everything; if you don’t take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else. Stop trying to achieve the picture-perfect image of what motherhood is supposed to look like. In reality, there are a lot less fresh baked cupcakes and a lot more vomit stained track pants. We know there are five overflowing baskets of washing, but for goodness sake, take a nap. If you aren’t well rested then you won’t have energy to get anything accomplished.
We know funds might be tight right now, but some of the best dollars you can spend are on household help. Not in the budget? Talk to your family about possibly pitching in once a week or so, just to unload some of your burden. And if you have a partner, make sure he or she is pitching in when possible.
Put things into perspective
The dishes will one day get done, but your baby will never be a baby again. Instead of stressing about what is and isn’t getting done, sit outside and introduce her to the birds. Show him bubbles for the first time. Show her off to grandma. You won’t remember the dust piled on the television, we promise.
Make lists - lots and lots of lists
This isn’t so much about being organised (although that does help), but it will just help you remember what you absolutely need to get done and what isn’t as important. It’s common for mothers to joke about poor (or should we say non-existent) memory, but it’s only because there’s so much going on in our minds. We have more responsibility, worry and stress than we ever did before, so, understandably, we need to adjust. Make a list of things that need to be done immediately - like bills, food shopping, phone calls - and tasks that can be put off - like cleaning behind the refrigerator. Crossing them off one by one is strangely satisfying and might help you to feel less overwhelmed.
Pack the night before
Even if you don’t have any imminent plans, keep your nappy bag replenished and the bottles filled to cut down on the leaving-the-house mayhem. We know it’s tempting to immediately crash on the couch, but you’ll be thankful tomorrow. (Along the same lines, give yourself ample time to leave the house before a scheduled appointment. If you don’t, the click of the car seat is sure to trigger a bowel explosion.)
Regularly connect with the outside world
While it’s always a good idea to get some fresh air every day, the new social communities online are a convenient way for modern mums to feel included and understood. Whether it’s through mummy blogs or forums, Facebook or Twitter, you’ll find support and advice while navigating this new lifestyle.
A good excuse to leave the house and get frocked up is for a date night with your partner, if you have one. (Go on a date with a girlfriend if you’re parenting solo.) No matter what your age or marital status, it’s extremely typical for women to feel stripped of their sexuality and femininity, stuck in a selfless routine of feedings and nappy changing. Your once sex-object breasts are now a vessel for nutrition and a source of comfort; your body has undergone massive changes; your blow dryer hasn’t been used in months; and let’s not mention the recent trauma to your lady parts. Take some time to feel pretty again - you deserve it.
If you’re in a parenting partnership, the sleepless nights and on-the-job learning can definitely put a strain on the relationship, not to mention romance. Daddy is adjusting to this new threesome as well, but try to step back and nurture the partnership that made this little person in the first place. Your children will eventually walk away, but your partner will always be standing next to you. Yet it’s easier to neglect a relationship than your needy children or demanding job - until one day, without even realising it, the relationship has deteriorated. Take time for the two of you, which could mean resuming sex again (make sure you’re well aware of your contraception options) or simply grabbing a table for two and reconnecting.
The logistics of accomplishing a date night are more involved than just deciding on a time and place nowadays. Here are some tips on achieving a stress-free outing away from baby:
If your goal is to rekindle your relationship, try to schedule a weekly rendezvous, which means lining up a hired sitter or relative ahead of time. The regularity will eliminate any last-minute babysitter scrambling and allow you to prepare ahead of time.
Make sure the sitter has a list of phone numbers for you, nearby family members and medical services. Also leave a detailed list of the baby’s schedule, feeding directions, sleeping habits, product locations (like where the nappies and wipes are) and general likes and dislikes.
Keep your outings short in the beginning, no more than a couple of hours - especially if breastfeeding.
- Try to feed your baby before you leave the house
- Bring along a breast pump in case of an engorgement emergency
- Pack plenty of breast pads to avoid any milk spillage, which is likely to happen if you hear a baby crying or even just think about your newborn back home
- Make sure the sitter has at least two bottles of expressed milk or formula in case your baby gets hungry early. Also, make sure he or she tosses any unfinished breast milk to prevent bacteria from festering.