It’s really common for mums to look for sanity tips after they have a baby. One of the things many mums tell me is how overwhelming they find it when they first come home with their baby. There’s so much we just don’t know before we have our baby, some of which we just don’t learn because our village has been lost, and some of which because we need to simply experience it to understand it. Like sleep deprivation. Did you EVER know how hard that was going to be?!
The problem is that with the loss of the village, and the loss of family in close proximity to many new mothers, new mums are often left feeling alone. Even for mums like me who knew quite well how to CARE for a newborn, I didn’t know how it felt to be sleep deprived and I had never breastfed before. I had never cared for a baby whilst having severe abdominal pain from a ceasarean section, and I had never experienced severe nipple pain before whilst also caring for a baby. So I was in a new zone. Is that where you are?
Top tips for motherhood
- Sleep when baby or toddler sleeps. Seriously. Leave the housework. Get some rest. The only opportunity you will have is with your first child. By the time your second baby is born, your older child will need entertaining or supervising and you won’t get to rest (unless they are at daycare by then). I used to love going to my bed during the day with my toddler when I was pregnant with my second. We would read books and then both of us would sleep. I never had the opportunity to do this again when the baby was born. I so needed it during my pregnancy though!
- Lower your expectations. With cleaning. With cooking. With parenting in general. Maybe you used to love cooking from scratch before you had kids. And now there’s no time or you are just too tired. So buy a few jars of pasta sauce! Maybe you can manage to cook from scratch a couple of nights per week, particularly when your partner is home. Cook extra serves and freeze for the nights when cooking just isn’t happening.
- Order in or eat out. If you’ve just had one.of.those.days, don’t keep pushing. Just get takeaway. It won’t hurt your toddler to have pizza or McDonald’s one night or matter if you have an omelette for dinner. It’s about lowering those expectations. Sometimes it’s just not possible to have a fully cooked meal on the table seven nights per week.
- Eat little and often. If making your normal meals throughout the day is becoming challenging, then graze on foods throughout the day to keep your energy up. Remember that if you are breastfeeding you will be burning extra calories through the day so you will need more nutrition. Sometimes not eating can make mums feel sick, so eating little and often can be helpful to settle the tummy.
- Use a diary or planner. If ‘pregnancy brain’ or ‘mummy brain’ is getting to you and you forget more than you remember, write it down! Write all your appointments, coffee catch ups, mothers’ groups, birthdays etc in a calendar so you can keep track. Using an electronic one is great because it’s with you everywhere you go and you can check it and make appointments/catch ups on the go.
- Get into a routine. This isn’t for the kids as such, but for you. If mornings are so difficult to get out of the house, prep the night before. Nappy bag packed. Lunch boxes/snack boxes packed. Mum’s outfit chosen/kids outfits chosen. It might increase your nightly taskload, but it will make things run smoother in the mornings.
- Get out of the house. Staring at four walls and not getting fresh air can drive you batty. Pop bub in a pram or carrier, go for a quick walk around the block, or a slow walk, depending on where you are at with your birth recovery and fitness. Otherwise, just wander around a shopping centre. You might find yourself chatting away to anyone who will talk to you (I know I did!) because you crave other adult conversations. That’s okay. There’s usually someone around who will chat.
- Exercise with your kids. It might be that walk with the pram or the toddler is on a bike or scooter while you walk. You might find a gym or outdoor exercise program that has a creche, OR a family centred exercise program so you can all do it together. There’s plenty around. For a few years I went to an outdoor bootcamp that had a creche inside a building and then I joined another bootcamp where babies and toddlers could be there with their mums. Mums stopped exercising to breastfeed their babies and tend to their children but mostly got a workout and it was a great option!
- Last tip: learn to say no! Sometimes it’s really important for your body to rest, for your mental health, for your kids to have some downtime if you’ve been really hectic lately, to just say no and stay home. Maybe you get asked to a social event and your calendar is actually free. It’s still okay to say no! Prioritising yourself and your children is within your rights and it’s important to do so!
Mums Feeling Good
At the Making Mama Village workshop series we cover a lot of this content in the last session. Mums need to learn tips to save their sanity, but also to realise you don’t have to do it all. It’s okay if you are not doing everything perfectly the way you might have done before you had children. You want to feel supported in your efforts to do the very best you can. At the end of the day your children will know that you loved them by what you say to them and how you act with them, not because you have a gourmet meal on the table each night and a clean house. We’ve moved on since the 1950s thankfully!
Have you signed up to join the village yet? Go here to do so: https://makingmamavillage.com.au/
You can check out more about the workshops on offer here: https://makingmamavillage.com.au/services/