It is amazing how a small bundle of joy can create so many challenges and, in some cases, feel as if it is taking our power away. Childbirth and rearing are the top of the chain when it comes to defining life events. We are often in this state of autonomy and independence without children. In some cases, we even feel a sense of invulnerability as there may be nothing that could hinder us from our goals or stop us in our tracks when it comes to conceptualizing or visualizing where we want to be and feasibly getting there. The birth of a child can easily challenge all our goals. However, the magnitude of such a fearful life-altering experience can bring joy, newness and love as we maneuver through this transition and teach ourselves our capacity to give and take….mostly more give.
Parenthood can test your resiliency and push your buttons to the degree of mental exhaustion. Depression, anxiety, threshold for frustration and containment of anger can come into question when dealing with this life change. Research has shown that on average parents are happier than childless couples, but this trend goes the opposite direction when parents cannot find ways to manage their children and themselves. Let me bring up a few things that can be done to bring things back into balance:
Try to protect yourself from stressors outside your home. Attempt to use your energy mentally and cognitively to leave work stress outside the home and find solutions for more feasibility in focusing on demands and appreciating life at home.
Join any networks for parents such as new infant groups in your community to gain guidance and support. Aspects of relational connections are crucial in stress management and feeling like you are not alone.
Understand that you and your child don’t have to participate in everything. Driving your child around and you trying to keep everything going you had before children may not be a realistic endeavor. Take an inventory of where you are and what can be acceptable without having to burn yourself out and potentially find parenthood an aversive experience. You are adequate whatever your choice.
It’s about quality not quantity. If your child is napping that does not mean get everything else done as if a bomb is on a timer and you need to disarm it. Calm down, watch a show, call a friend or close your eyes for a few minutes. If you put your mind to it you can find something realistic without falling way behind.
We live in the age of technology. COVID-19, politics, death, storms and conflict are all at our fingertips. Try to avoid taking in news or readings/videos which purport negative or unpleasant energy or content.
Use self-talk to get you out of the “rabbit hole”. If you say to yourself “I can’t take it anymore” attempt to keep going. “I can’t take it anymore and I know that is just not true because this will end and I will find a way to push through because I know what I deserve and what is at stake”. Be your own change in the world and use your thinking as an asset not a liability.
Diet, exercise and sleep are crucial….I’m sorry let me say that again….diet, exercise and sleep are crucial to your mental and physical well-being and are definitely connected with mental health conditions. Be mindful or where you are at and be a problem-solver in how to make even small changes in these areas.
Take time to celebrate the small successes and laugh at perceived failures. Milestones and surprise occurrences are made to be celebrated and enjoyed, especially in the first year of your baby's life. Sometimes you can feel like everything you do is wrong (its not) so take time for your self to recognize the little things. Do it with friends, family, that special person, or just yourself, but celebrate the little things.
No one said you needed to be perfect just perfectly committed to your child and yourself. Now go get that bottle ready…………………..