Tag: New Moms

5 Self-Care Strategies for First Time Moms

5-self-care-strategies

Now that my kids are in school I am trying to focus more on self-care. I keep thinking back to those very early days as a mom and how hard it was to take care of my own needs. I remember feeling drained and empty. I put way too much pressure on myself to make everyone happy by keeping everything perfect. As a first time mom with twin newborns it was a struggle to just get a shower each day, let alone making sure everyone had clean underwear and the house was properly organized.

Eating and sleeping are crucial, but so is staying connected to friends and family and our own interests. In those early years self -care, for me, was about getting a hot shower and enjoying a meal. I was all alone with two brand new babies and I was trying to make it all work. I barely ate, I barely slept and my record for showering was spotty. I was hungry, depleted and so overwhelmed.

Five years later my self-care looks more like taking time to exercise, or drinking tea and reading a book. Now I get to eat one sit down meal a day while the kids are in school. Do you know how good food tastes when you’re not standing over the sink, shoveling it into your mouth?

Ahhh. It’s almost nirvana.

Here are 5 self-care strategies I used in those early years:

I FOUND SOME FRIENDS

I envied friends who had a sister or a friend expecting a child at the same time. I spent 5 months alone on bed rest. Once the babies were born and my husband went back to work, I felt so lonely and empty. I just wanted a friend. Honestly, finding a close relationship as a mom can be super hard. But when you do it is so wonderful! I met a lot of moms early on in play groups, at the park and at the library, but not everyone has become my friend. I realized quickly not everyone is looking for a new bestie. Sometimes just seeing the same smiling face each week at story time is enough to ease a stressful morning.

I HOSTED PLAY DATES

Bundling up two kids and getting them to the car is no easy feat when you are worn out and exhausted. Thankfully, my mom friends took mercy on me and would travel to my house. Talking with other moms makes me realize I am not alone in my struggles. We are all struggling to find balance. I did a quick tidy, put out some toys and turned on the coffee. (In those early days my house wasn’t the colossal wreck that it is today). As much work as it was to finish a sentence while chasing kids, the conversations we shared are invaluable.

I ACCEPTED OTHER PEOPLE’S GENEROSITY

I have to remind myself often that I am one person taking care of many.  It can be draining. But when I started accepting offers of help, it really alleviated some stress. When someone brought me a meal, it didn’t make me a charity case. It meant I got to eat a hot meal. When neighbors shoveled my drive it didn’t mean I was irresponsible, it meant I didn’t have to leave my babies alone. When a friend washed my dishes it didn’t mean I wasn’t capable, it meant I could hold my two sleeping babies in my arms a little longer. If you are lucky enough to find someone to volunteer to help in anyway, it is OK to accept the offer!

I ASKED FOR HELP

You can’t always rely on people offering help. You could be drowning for weeks before that happens. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help! I was afraid to ask friends for help because I didn’t want to burden them. I didn’t want to admit I couldn’t handle everything by myself. But when I found myself on bed rest and needed help getting our house ready for babies, I asked for help. Surprisingly, a lot of our friends came out to wash windows, put together furniture, organize our nursery, rake our leaves, and help finish up some household projects we knew we couldn’t get to as parents. It was humbling and eased our worry. Ask family and friends to contribute a meal to stash in your freezer. Ask for gift certificates for a cleaning service as your baby shower/newborn gift. Cute clothes are wonderful, but not having to clean your toilets is even better! But most of all, if you find yourself struggling with overwhelming sadness, or feelings of inadequacy don’t be afraid to reach out right away. Struggling alone is worse than what anyone else is thinking about you.

I DELAYED WASHING DISHES

I often think if I don’t do the dishes right now then I will be so far behind and everything will pile up. One day it hit me, “since when is there a deadline on dirty dishes?” I don’t have a dishwasher (I know it’s like roughing it in my own home) so the panic to find an empty sink is real. But when I let myself rest while the twins took a nap- even just 10 minutes- I felt ready to tackle the tower of slop. In that 10 minutes I put my feet up, focused on breathing and thought of the beach. Taking just 10 minutes was recharging. And to be honest some days I took 20 minutes. Turns out the dishes were still waiting for me even when I took a few minutes for myself.

As a new mom you have a lot on your plate already just taking care of a baby and learning how to be a mom. I think it is very rare for any mom to take to motherhood like a duck takes to water. There are learning curves we need to adjust for and that’s OK. It takes time to learn the basics of taking care of our babies, our bodies, our new financial picture and household demands. If we try to balance it all at once we can become so overwhelmed and feel like we are drowning. That’s when self care becomes critical. But we want to make sure we recharge before we get to that critical point. Mothering with depleted resources isn’t healthy for you, or your baby. Self care doesn’t mean just meeting your basic needs, it means making sure you have enough for yourself too.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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9 Truths I Learned Baby’s First Year

9 Truths I Learned My Daughter's First Year

I thought I knew what I was getting into when I became a mom. I felt pretty prepared because I have always had kids in my home. I have fostered children and I have watched and loved kids as my own for years. I was not ready for the realism of being a full time parent of two. Let me share with you some of the things I have learned from my baby’s first year.

DON’T BUY EXPENSIVE TOYS

Yes new is great and in your new parent excitement you will buy that ridiculously priced contraption. Then once it is setup at home, you will find out the hard way that your baby hates it! Oh, and baby will only use it for three months. There are usually floor displays so you can try it before you buy it. Put your baby in it. Let them explore it. Take the time to examine it. My husband and I realized this after oohing and ahhing over a Jumperoo. We put our daughter in it and she freaked out as if she was going to seriously have a heart attack if we left her in it. We found out she prefers to wander freely. Her favorite toys are the walk behind and ride on toys we were given by family and friends.

Baby's 1st Birthday

THE RULES ARE ALWAYS CHANGING

What works the first few nights to soothe your baby will not work three nights later, nor will it work in another week. Babies are the rule makers. No matter how much you think you are going to set the rules and they are going to be on your schedule it very rarely works that way. Surrender right now! The moment that little bundle of frustrating joy is born it owns you! You will no longer have control over what time you wake up or go to sleep. You will no longer be out of the door on time and you most certainly will never be able to think the same again.

I CAN TUNE ANYTHING OUT

First time parents are typically on high alert for any little sound baby makes. During those early months my husband could hear the rustle of our baby’s crib sheets two rooms away. But as our baby grows we are learning to filter out the unnecessary noise. While on a call with a business associate, I was able to tune out an episode of Dinosaur Train playing on the TV, my baby screaming at her brother, her brother screaming back, and my husband getting the dog to bark on command while the washer and dryer were doing their jobs. My associate actually asked me to call her back because she was getting a headache from all the “background noise” in my home. When on the phone with non-parents go to a room as far away from the noise as possible. Folks without kids cannot tune out the commotion of your daily life the same way you can.

Skylers 1st fam

MY MARRIAGE CAN WITHSTAND ANYTHING

Just before the birth of my daughter, my family endured a lot of big changes. The week before she was born, my husband was seriously injured when a drunk driver hit him. Then within a month, we unexpectedly gained full custody of my stepson. Together we were struggling to adjust to full time parenthood with a newborn and a four year old. Neither of us were able to work. He was trying to heal from his injuries, and I was still healing from pregnancy on bed rest and child birth. I started to feel like a single parent of two while my husband was limited physically in what he could do to help. This all took a huge toll on us as a couple. Somehow, we made it through. Talk, Talk, Talk especially during the times you do not want to. Becoming a new parent is life changing in its self and when life adds those extra struggles, the situation feels almost impossible.

I AM INVINCIBLE

After becoming a mom, I completely fell apart. I struggled with the lack of sleep, the lack of help and lack of knowledge. However, I found an inner strength I never knew I had. Suddenly, I was able to feed a newborn with one arm while making a bowl of cereal for a toddler. I learned to multitask like a boss. I was able to keep a floundering family together and I was able to become me again.

On those really tough days, give yourself credit for even the small things you accomplish each day. Eventually you will start to see the bigger things you accomplish. When feeling like you cannot possibly take one more thing thrown at you, look in the mirror and tell yourself “you got this.” Be your own cheerleader because there will be times when others just do not understand what you are dealing with. You will overcome!

skylers 1st moments

I TREASURE EVEN THE TINY MOMENTS

During the struggles of this first year as a mom,  it has been the tiny moments that kept me going. A simple brush of my husband’s hand across mine reminds me that the man I married is still in there somewhere. Seeing my baby sleeping on her daddy’s chest reminds me of why I fell in love with him. Hearing my baby’s first giggle refreshes my weary soul. Watching my two children play together reminds me how blessed I truly am. When life is at its toughest keep looking for those tiny moments until you find a glimpse of joy. The tiniest moment can be the glue you need to mend that broken heart or those frayed emotions.

HUGS ARE SOOTHING

When children are hurt,  or scared, unsure or happy they look for a hug. We can do the same! Hugs can be comforting and assure us we are safe. I personally have always enjoyed a good hug from a special cousin. I’ve even driven to her job just to get a hug. This last year I learned to accept hugs from others who could see me struggling but had no words to console me. HUG! It is that simple. Sometimes we just need to feel a little human connection. A hug is the simplest way to connect. Did I mention HUG!?

IT IS OK TO CRY

We are born with the natural ability to cry and yet we are taught that it is not OK to do it as we grow up. During some of my toughest moments the only thing that made me feel better was crying. Sometimes tears would just roll down my face without me realizing it. There is no shame in crying. It is like cleaning our emotional chalkboard of stress. Crying can lead to sleeping and sleeping equals silence. I am not just talking about babies. Sometimes all we really need is a good cry and a nap.

skylers 1st

I AM NEVER ALONE

It is strange but when you become a new mom it feels like you are suddenly alone and nobody understands what you are going through. The reality is once you have children you will never be alone again! Even though I wasn’t really alone, there were still times I felt like I was drowning in loneliness. Don’t be afraid to invite friends and family to visit. Get out of the house and find community events to enjoy.

In this past year, I had to find what worked for me and my family to survive the curve balls thrown at us. We made it! Our struggles have given us a new understanding of our relationships with each other and our friends. If you are struggling too, just know that you will overcome the first year, and the second year, and the third year and so on!

deb editDebra is a first time mom to her beautiful rainbow baby Skyler, a wife, a blogger and an ordained minister. She enjoys crafting and creating educational fun for her step sons and decorating her home. Find Debra at Crossing New Bridges on Facebook and on Twitter.

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Things No One Tells You About Motherhood

Things They Don't Tell New Mothers

Once people knew I was pregnant the stories of motherhood began flying my way. I was told I was going to fall head over heels in love my baby (and I totally have). Everything that my baby does will be adorable (I somewhat agree). I was told to take all the medications that were offered at delivery time (I never got any medications as we went directly into delivery upon arriving at the hospital). How I would love the cuddles, giggles, the milestones, cute outfits, tiredness and body changes. What I was not told about was the realism of motherhood.

Once I had my daughter I was not ready for what was about to happen. The true experience of motherhood was nothing like what I had been told. I do not want you, my awesome blog reader, to go blindly into motherhood without knowing the untold stories of motherhood.

Tiredness. Yes, I have experienced it in the past and I was told about tiredness. I would gladly take tiredness. However, since the beginning of my pregnancy I have been EXHAUSTED! My body went through 9 months of growing a baby while on bedrest. You would think I would have gotten a lot of sleep. My husband naively asked why I was so tired all the time. My response was you grow a human for 9 months, have it ripped from inside you and as your body is trying to heal you become a 24 hour vending machine. Walking away…grumble, grumble, ask my why I’m tired…grumble, grumble…

Childbirth is not as painful as the horror stories you hear.  I had my daughter without medication. Before it sounds like I am bragging, let me say she was a fast delivery where there was no time for mediation. The worse part was the “ring of fire” as her head pushed out. This is coming from a woman who has multiple health issues and takes numerous pain control medications.

The Heartburn never goes away! My heartburn was so bad that I had to see a specialist who scheduled me for surgery to remove my gall bladder. I had excruciating heartburn that caused me to double over in pain. The only way I got the slightest relief was by having to make myself throw up. This was horrible in itself. I was told that gallstones were a common issue for women after childbirth. Even after having my gallbladder removed I am still on prescribed medications for the heartburn.

Stretch marks everywhere. I have stretch marks on places I never thought possible. My toes and feet swelled three times their size during weeks 36-38 and then swelled more after giving birth. It hurt to walk for weeks. I now have stretch marks on my toes and feet. I also have stretch marks on the back of my neck, armpits, butt, hips, and arms, stomach….EVERYWHERE!

Time alone ceases to exist. You no longer have time to read that book you just got into. You now read The Very Hungry caterpillar a bajillion times. No more quiet refreshing showers, now you have to find ways to drag in some baby contraption to hold the child and toys to keep her happy while you quickly shower before she screams uncontrollably. (P.s. keep the shower door ajar so she can see you for a longer shower). Gone are the days of peeing in peace (have you read my Mommy Potty Chaos Post?). Ironically as I write this I am in the dentist’s waiting room using my “alone time” to finish this post.

Overwhelmed is the new normal. I used to juggle a million things very successfully. Now I can’t seem to get through one morning without losing my composure. I was once told I come off as unfazed…where is that person now? Balancing household bills and squeezing out money for baby needs, housework that never is caught up, friends are put on the back burner, finding time to buy groceries. Now the baby needs more attention, other child needs attention, your needs don’t count. Don’t forget the husband needs attention and by the way your legs would embarrass Chewbacca, a fact that my husband let me know by buying hair remover cream “so it can work while you do other things.”

I was never told these things could become part of my daily routine! I think that as our babies grow the sting of the events we deal with are covered with fluffy cute loveable moments. We forget the pregnancy struggles and how hard it was to walk, breathe, and function. We forget the “ring of fire” during birth. As sleep patterns form we forget the length of exhaustion. We also forget those unimaginable monster mommy moments we dealt with.

I do promise that when a naïve young woman asks what motherhood is like, I will share the horrid untold stories of motherhood. I will not sugar coat a thing. It will either make her stronger in knowledge of what is to come or make her think twice about becoming a mother.

Ooh, yeah the dentist is calling. I wonder if I ask nicely they will sedate me so that I can also get some sleep while I am here?

deb editDebra is a first time mom to her beautiful rainbow baby Skyler, a wife, a blogger and an ordained minister. She enjoys crafting and creating educational fun for her step sons and decorating her home. Find Debra at Crossing New Bridges on Facebook and on Twitter.

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All Moms Could Use a Little Help

 

Ways to Help A Struggling Mom

Every Sunday at church I am greeted with different showings of love from my fellow sisters. From a casual hello by a rushed mom, arms overflowing with stuff, trying to get her kids seated to hugs from a mom already settled. Each week questions fly about how my daughter is sleeping, what is she eating and friends ooh and ahhh over her and request to hold her. Week after week since my daughter’s birth this has been the usual way I start my Sunday morning.

That is until one Sunday when a sister came over and sat right next to me. She looked me directly in the eyes and asked, “How are you doing?” That simple, innocent question threw me completely off balance. I was not prepared to answer.

How am I? You mean you don’t want to know about my daughter? Wait…. am I falling apart? Can you see me struggling to keep my head above water?

I struggled to hold back the tears and and to compose myself before I showed how frazzled and lost I felt. That simple phrase made me feel like I mattered. I was not just my daughter’s mother in that moment but me, just me. I existed. I was noticed!

This made me think about how many times a mom walks into a room and all eyes look directly at her children. How many times do we not see her? I mean REALLY see her. Why does this happen?  I honestly believe we often get excited to see a cute little outfit, or little a cherub face and get caught up in the awe factor.

It isn’t often enough that somebody offers to help a mom, or asks her if she needs an ear or a hug. It seems like a little thing but in that moment a mom wouldn’t feel so alone. For that moment, her burdens would be shared and lightened.

Not all struggling moms look as if they are struggling. I know I personally hide my struggles very well. So why not offer a gesture of kindness to any fellow mom? Here are some suggested ways to offer help:

  • Call her and ask to stop by for coffee.
  • Offer to watch her kids for a few hours so she can enjoy a few hours alone or with her spouse.
  • Cook dinner for her at your house.
  • Join her at the park and chat while the kids play.
  • Send her an old fashion handwritten letter telling her you have been thinking of her.

We all walk around balancing our own emotional teeter-totters. Most moms (especially new moms) are precariously balancing in their own corners hoping nothing else is added to topple them over. I can say from experience that the simplest gesture makes a world of difference. Next time you see a fellow mom, who may or may not look like she is struggling, ask her how she is doing. Or Can I get you anything? Or how can I help you in this moment? I promise you she will be relieved beyond your understanding.

Who knows the next time your own emotional teeter-totter is feeling unsteady, that mom you helped just might have the ability to balance you before toppling over. She might even become your next close friend.

 

 

deb editDebra is a first time mom to her beautiful rainbow baby Skyler, a wife, a blogger and an ordained minister. She enjoys crafting and creating educational fun for her step sons and decorating her home. Find Debra at Crossing New Bridges on Facebook and on Twitter.

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