While motherhood is one of the best gifts this life has to offer, it is not for the faint of heart. My journey with motherhood began in 2006, with the birth of my first son. Now, almost 12 years and 3 kids later it isn’t any easier, but I am wiser.
Becoming a mom changes us. Not just in a naturally progressive kind of way, but in a deep, shaken-to-the-core kind of way. Anxiety surfaced with my new life as a mother. Sure, there were anxious times or periods of high stress before kids, but somehow I was a lot better at coping with it then. Maybe it was the fact that I got a full night’s sleep, or that I didn’t have the pressure or guilt associated with being the “perfect” mom. My previous fears seemed so small compared to the fierce love and mama bear instinct that kicked in nearly immediately upon meeting my little humans. Was I fit to do this? Did I really have what it would take?
Well, I somehow pulled it off, and this summer my kids turn 12, 10 and 7. They are some of the most intelligent, fun, witty, creative and kind humans I know...all despite my personal struggles and doubts. If I could go back in time, here are a few things I would tell my anxious new-mama self.
- Stop the noise - I know you want to absorb all of the parenting advice and info you can. That stack of books by your bed, the advice from everyone from your mom to perfect strangers, social media, BLOGS! And advertisements everywhere you turn. Your intentions are good, but you already have inside of you so much of what you will need to raise your baby. Trust your instincts and that mama intuition. Don’t lose sight of what you desire for your baby and what works best for you.
- Keep it simple - You really want the latest and greatest, because somehow if you can provide all of these “things”, it equates to being a better parent. But you will soon learn that you don’t need ALL of that stuff. Be conscious and stick with the basics.
- TAKE CARE OF YOUR NEEDS - Nobody functions well when their basic needs aren’t met. This includes sleep and nourishment. Our bodies aren’t designed to go and go and go without recharging. Sleep when you can and ask for help when you aren’t getting enough. When your blood sugar is low, you feel anxious. When you are breastfeeding you need extra calories and regular nutritious snacks. You are feeding your baby every few hours, feed yourself too.
- Keep taking your vitamins; this includes a good prenatal. Magnesium is a staple. Besides the plethora of benefits to nearly every system in your body, it can have a calming effect.
- Incorporate self-care rituals into each day. Remember the things you enjoyed pre motherhood. Maybe it’s 10 minutes stretching or doing yoga poses on your mat, another 5 minutes meditating or ending the day with warm magnesium water or chamomile tea and lighting a candle. Incorporate calming essential oils and beauty rituals. Small rituals will ground you and provide comfort when all else feels new and out of control.
- Get outside. No matter how much you love your home, getting outside reminds you that you are not alone or isolated. Take walks, breathe fresh air and notice beauty around you.
- Practice gratitude. There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Even when you are feeling resentful toward your spouse, struggling with your new body, tired and overwhelmed. All of this is temporary. You will get through it and when you look back, you will remember the struggles and the joys. No matter what - it was worth it.