Mothers have always been under intense pressure, not just in the home but outside as well.
With Mother’s Day around the corner and being a new dad myself to a 7-month-old, I have seen the impact that being a new parent can have on one’s mental health. As tough as ‘dad-hood’ is, I recognize that it can’t much compare with the experience of a mom in today’s world.
Moms are under-appreciated workers who not just raise the next generation, but are the households’ caretakers, doctors, chefs, cleaners, organizers, and so much more. While they are busy taking care of everyone else, sometimes -most times- they forget to count themselves as someone who needs a break and still needs self-care.
So, I wanted to take this time to highlight the importance of prioritizing your own self-care for yourself, your family, and your mental health.
Mothers have always been under intense pressure not just in the home but outside of it as well. From ‘snapback culture’, to the fact that breastfeeding is for some reason still a concept needing to be normalized. And now, the pandemic has seen many moms pushed even further beyond their limits.
Though the saying is “it takes a village to raise a child”, it seems that this pandemic has largely left moms without readily available resources that they need to cope with the extra demands.
With the pandemic and restrictions in place, those who were pregnant weren’t sure what implications it would have for their birthing day. Would they be without their partners? Giving birth with or without masks on? Would it be safe to get vaccinated while pregnant? If vaccination would be available to them, would every doctor’s visit be done solo?
And after birth, new mothers were dealing with supercharged hormones and learning to breastfeed all while having little to no human contact. Reduced availability with other mamas for connection, advice, and friendship. It meant reduced exercise and much-needed outdoor time, as well as feeling completely isolated with no friends and family to lend some support.
From my own experience, I missed being able to have loved ones see my partner’s growing belly in person during her pregnancy. And now with my baby boy out in the world, those same people haven’t been able to meet him and share in his amazing first-year journey. And while, I know that as heavily as this weighs on me, the impulse towards carrying this (as guilt) falls even stronger on mama.
That mother’s guilt can be a pervasive feeling, that you’re not doing enough as a parent, not doing things right, or making decisions that aren’t the right choice for your child in the long run.
For all the mamas who are having to stay behind to help school children from home, who are struggling financially and mentally, who are working from home and caring for children simultaneously, thank you. It isn’t fair, and you are heroes.
For what it’s worth, here are some wise words straight from the experience of the best mom I know, my son’s mother:
Though it seems like a mystifying concept, breaks, even micro-breaks are what can be the difference between a happy mom and an irritable, low-energy one.
Put age-appropriate babies in an exer-saucer or swing and take a much-needed 10-minute coffee break, lunch break, bathroom break, or an ‘anything that makes you feel good’ break!
When one goes to their job after 5 hours of straight work we are given a 30-minute lunch break, some places even give a quick 10-15 minute coffee break after a couple of hours. So why then is it that moms always feel guilty about taking any time away from their 24/7 “workweek”? We all need to remember that needing or asking for time to oneself isn’t “selfish”, it’s self-care. We need to rework that mom guilt in our favor and use it to remind ourselves that it’s all going to be okay. (Because soon that 10 minutes will be gone before you know it, you’ll be back in the barracks and realize that your little one was perfectly fine and now mama is ready to go again!)
In this new normal of school-aged children being at home every day, many rules have gone out the window or at least become more lenient (like screen time). Now it probably shouldn't be a free-for-all, but again do what's right for you, your family and your mental health. When you need some time to come back down from a stressful afternoon, a simple 20-minute show that your kids enjoy could do wonders to reinvigorate you.
I know it’s easier said than done to “just don’t feel guilty”. It can be impossible to simply turn off all of the wondering and worrying about if we’re doing the right thing for our children. But it’s important to remember that this feeling of guilt is coming from a desire to do our best. And that desire is an indicator that we are in fact are being good parents.
So next time you feel that guilt, please remember that making time for yourself is actually a win for your whole family, too.
Here are a few different 10-minute videos chosen to help restore and nurture your inner calm. Whether you prefer silence or a guided recording, it’s important to prioritize a rejuvenating practice that’s just for you.
Feeling drained, and in need of soothing energy? Try this sweet and simple restorative practice designed especially for mothers.
A sweet 10-minute practice to bond, play and relax with your little one.
Settle in, soften the inner critic, nuture yourself & receive our thanks.
This guided meditation is designed to help mothers regain some peace of mind and reconnect with our inner being.
This article was written by Seth Chisholm during their time at Shift Collab.
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