Let me just begin by saying I am NOT an expert on this topic. I swing up and down like a yoyo these days and share a lot of what’s happening in my life on social media, but like everyone there are pieces I don’t share. I don’t share them because I am embarrassed or sad or secretive as much as I’m just not sure how to go about it – well, I’ve realized that writing a blog post and having a permanent piece of writing that summarizes how I’m feeling is the perfect way to help me and hopefully help someone else who stumbles upon this post when they may need it most.
Kate is 1 month and 1 day old as I am writing this to paint a picture for you. I am not really sure if I have done a good job of looking after my mental health this time around as much as I have done my absolute best to fill my days with tasks and to-do lists so I don’t notice it (my mental health that is). This is not necessarily the best approach, but it seems to be working for me. I still have moments I feel like crying and have no idea why, I am still way less patient than I would like to be and am far from perfecting this mental health thing, but I am making progress. If I compare my mental state 1 month in with baby Kate vs Landon I am doing much better and there are a few things I am doing (or trying to do) other than fill my schedule that may also help you.
I am not ignoring my mental health completely, I’m writing this post after all… but I am letting myself do things I didn’t let myself do when I had Landon. For example:
1) Talking – I am talking about how I feel with other moms and being honest about it. I’m not pretending to be supermom or any version thereof. Finding people in your situation that you can talk to and that you feel comfortable with is one of the best things I have done this time. We all have family and people we normally confide in, but for some reason having people in the exact same situation to chat with and support while they are also supporting you is more beneficial than you may realize until you’re doing it.
2) Lower your standards – I read this article yesterday about “why the third week of mortherhood is the hardest” and her points are all spot on. Lowering your standards doesn’t mean not showing for a month, doing away with makeup and letting the house become a disaster zone – what is means (to me) is being ok with getting one thing (other than the regular feeding everyone, etc.) done that you would not normally do in a day. Yesterday I made a soup and instead of celebrating it I immediately starting thinking of the next soup I should make. That was just dumb of me. I should have celebrated that I made a soup! Today, upon reflection I am super pumped and proud of that soup, which leads me to my next point.
3) Celebrate the small wins – In your “normal” life you probably wouldn’t have “brush your teeth” or “drink water” on a to do list. But with a new baby around you may be surprised the “normal” things you forget to do… I love crossing something off a to-do list so having simple tasks like these on it makes me feel good just by crossing them off as I accomplish even the smallest tasks (aka small wins) through the day. Caution Note! Don’t put crazy big things on the list (remember how we are keeping our standards slightly lower than usual??). Yesterday, I also made this mistake. I put two BIG items on the list that I didn’t even start. The result was that at the end of the day after having a very productive day instead of feeling happy and satisfied I felt deflated all because of something I wrote on a list that shouldn’t have even been on the list to begin with. this was my list… lots to celebrate, am I right?!
4) Let people help you – It sounds so simple but for some people (*cough* me *cough*) this is tough. I love the idea that I can do it all – and of course, I can’t. Part of this has to do with mom guilt as well. I know, you know what I mean! The feeling that you SHOULD be doing all the things when realistically its impossible and really all you had to do was say “YES” to the people trying to help you. Tonight Landon is going on a sleepover and although he is super excited about it and he is going to have a blast I feel bad because he is at daycare all day today so really there is no reason he can’t come home and spend the evening with us. But, it is also going to allow me to spend some time with the Mr. and prepare for a great weekend with the four of us all together. I am still working on letting people help, but I am doing much much better than after having Landon so I am pleased. Progress, not perfection, right?!
5) Take the easy way – No-one has unlimited funds to waste on buying everything or every service out there, however sometimes when you stop to think about it the easy way is not always the most expensive. Convenience is king in my house these days (and most days!). This point almost summarizes “lowering your standards” and “letting people help you” when you think about it… for example: Last week I had a group of moms and babies over for a play date. The night before I started to panic a little bit because I didn’t have snack to offer them – Landon’s mom would have started making some kind of homemade baked good (even if that made going to buy ingredients and then going back home to make it) while Kate’s mom went to the grocery store and bought muffins that were in the bakery. See how Kate’s mom saved all the time of baking something and the dishes that would have went with it all while achieving the same result?! I lowered my standards, I let the bakery people help me and I took the easy way.
This post is brought to you by a husband who fed the baby at 6 and let me sleep, a toddler that is at daycare for the day and an infant who is sleeping. I decided to drink coffee and write this instead of starting something else… I hope you benefit from what I have learned and are able to look after your mental health in the best way possible.
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