After baby: 101 ways to stay sane
Around the 1 year mark, I hit a mild slump (ok, it was a bad slump). It was a long winter and I was tired. I could write a long list of the things I was tired of, but if you’re a Mom then you already know what I would say. Day after day of rain. I would make efforts to get out of the house, but sometimes it only helped a little. It was difficult to manage my emotions. I was happy being a Mom, but the days started to run together. Day after day of the same old, same old.
Sometimes (ok, ALL the time), I find it hard to reach out. Who finds it easy to ask for help? It’s like we are failures if we have to ask for help. It can feel like we are acknowledging we can’t do it all on our own or we are incapable. Less than. If we were able to handle everything, we wouldn’t need anybody right? Wrong. There is also pride involved. If I admit I need help, what will I look like? Someone might see me as weak or not as good as them.
Personally, I don’t believe it’s good for anyone to be alone. Even if you are capable of handling everything yourself, you need people. We all need friends. We need people to lean on, friends to bear our burdens with us. Who likes to celebrate something all alone? When something positive or negative happens, it always feels natural to share it with someone.
*back to the slump* So I’m in this 1 year slump of being a SAHM [stay at home mom]. What do I do? Well, it seemed natural (I didn’t say easy) to reach out. I asked a group of friends for some encouragement. What I received was an amazing outpouring show of support and love. I also learned a lot of great tips on things I could do to get a break. And I want to share them with you. You have to know that you are not alone. Even though I consciously knew that, sometimes just hearing someone say it outloud to me made all the difference.
- You are not alone. Many have struggled with this feeling too.
- Go out from time to time to meet with friends (without baby).
- Go back to work part time or full time. This gives you a routine and some people really have the deep desire to “be needed” at a job/career. Having people depend on you for your specific skills contributes to the desire for us to “feel valued”.
- Find a daycare for your baby for 4 hrs/one day a week and spend this time by yourself doing whatever you want to do.
- Find an everyday activity to commit to.
Time for yourself is so important so you can decompress. If your husband takes the baby out and you are home by yourself but you spend it doing laundry, this does NOT count. The endless list of “to do’s” will always be there. Finding a balance of getting things done and also taking time for yourself is probably always going to be a juggling act.
Back to the tips….
- Find a high school student or college student to be a “mother’s helper” and come to your house and help every week for a few hours. They can help with baby while you are at home and it frees you up.
- Find other Moms with similar age kids to hang out with, preferably that live within 5 minutes of your house. I have a lot of friends that live 20 or more min. away and sometimes I just don’t feel like dealing with traffic or driving that far to do a playdate. Having Momma friends that live close by will support you in getting out of the house more often.
- Find some local storytimes to go to. Kids love these. Even babies. I found that my son loved to go to storytime just to watch the older kids.
- Go to acupuncture or get a massage. Many Mommas find this relaxing.
- Join a PEPs group. Peps organizes Moms groups according to neighborhood and your kids ages. Many Peps groups continue to meet for years after the official group is done.
- EXERCISE!!! I can’t stress this enough. It’s good for us physically in so many ways. It releases “feel good” chemicals in our brain. Even better if you can exercise outside!
- Yoga is great too. It is exercise, but I know many Mommas that do it just for the relaxation and mental break.
- Set a goal to do a 5k with some other Mommas. This could be fun and also help with motivation to exercise.
- If you like to bike (I do), you can get a bike seat for toddlers or (as I prefer) a bike trailer. See my post here on how to find one. You can find bike trailers for one kid or for two. They are loads of fun for the kiddos and you all get outside (and some exercise.) I live in Seattle, and there are great trails close by that you can ride to a local beach or park. Lots of fun!
- Grocery shop alone without the kids. Stop by your favorite coffee shop, grab a latte, and leisurely grocery shop. You can have your list but this is surprisingly a treat to do alone! Go at night or in the morning when kids are still asleep or on weekends during naptime.
- Have “date nights” with girlfriends. If you have a girlfriend without any kids, I find this is especially nice because you tend to talk about other topics than kids. I just went to a rock-climbing gym with a friend last week and it was splendid!
- Order groceries online so you don’t have to deal with the stress of going out and doing it with your kids. (if it’s a stress)
- Did I say you are not alone?
- Spend a moment to reflect on your definition of a “good Mom” or “good wife”. Check in with yourself to make sure you are not aspiring to be something to which does not exist. There is no perfect wife or perfect mother. On the other hand, you will see how many of these traits already lie within you. Stop beating yourself up for your shortcomings and acknowledge what’s great about you.
- Find a friend that is interested in doing a kid swap. For 2 hrs or less/more, you swap kids. You get 2 free hrs of childcare, and so does she with the bonus of 2 playdates for the kids which they will love. If you so desire, set this up with multiple friends. I LOVE my kid swap.
- If you feel this would best support you, find a therapist. Usually asking other Mommas will help you find someone good.
- Get out of the house everyday even if it’s raining.
- Shower every day and before noon.
- Do something YOU like every day.
- MUSIC. Put on your favorite CD or listen to talk radio.
- Get a housekeeper, even if it’s only that they come and clean once a month for 4 hours. Any little bit would help.
- If something isn’t working for you and causing stress, make a change. If your nanny situation isn’t working, change it up. Do a nanny share.
- Set up a babysitting coop in your neighborhood or with a group of Moms. This is a great support network that will provide free babysitting as well as friends.
- Use your coop or new Momma network to get a babysitter and go on a DATE night with your hubby.
- Sometimes the baby blues can be a physical response. Seeing your primary doctor can be a great chance to chat about any nutritional deficiencies or hormonal problems. Someone I know is taking B-12 supplements because of this and it has really helped her.
- Research and find what drop-in daycares exist near you and what the rates are. If you are having a really bad day and need a break but can’t find a sitter, these drop-in daycare centers can be a lifesaver so you can have a breather.
- Arrange with your husband to watch the baby (or other family) and check into a motel for one night, JUST BY YOURSELF. Watch movies, eat popcorn, order room service, hit the jacuzzi and sleep all you want. This can be a great one-night recharge.
- Find something that feeds your soul. For me, it’s music. I play the piano and sing. When I need a recharge, I go play and sing my heart out. It’s my passion and is so soothing also. Maybe you love to sew and that helps you relax.
- Feed your spiritual side, whatever your beliefs may be. Meditate. Pray. Meet with like-minded people to talk about your beliefs and struggles.
- Did I say exercise yet? Nothing lets me relieve stress like a good hard workout!
- Open the windows and blinds to let the sun in. Go outside. Breath some fresh air. I love the smell of the ocean, especially the saltwater. I found this scented oil rod thing from Pottery Barn that reminds me of the ocean when I smell it. It was $20 but it’s funny how much that smell influences my mood. So grab your favorite candle and light it!
- Go get a pedicure or manicure. Or if you can’t get away, give yourself one. Soak your feet in the tub. Spend an hour just pampering your feet. There is a nail salon/spa in the U. District that has a Mommy day. They have women that will watch your baby while you get a pedicure. SIGN ME UP. (I still haven’t checked it out but sounds awesome!)
- Take a bath…with lots of bubbles or just what you like. Or a shower. I personally don’t love baths. Sometimes if it’s been a loooong day, I will take a second shower in the evening just because I find it so relaxing.
- After you take your morning shower, do your hair and put on makeup. I still don’t do this but I have a few friends that do it every day. It makes them feel normal like they are ready to go out in the world. Don’t just wear your yoga pants every day. Put on a skirt and a cute shirt with some earrings.
- Make sure you are eating breakfast. It makes a difference how you start your day. I never skip breakfast. (and I always have my coffee.) It’s not only part of my morning routine but it just helps my energy, which is always the lowest in the morning. (I am NOT a morning person)
- Eating healthy is also a great way to be happy. Food has a huge physiological affect. It affects our stress response, our hormones, and our energy. And I don’t say eat healthy because you want to lose weight, although I am sure all of us do. Eat healthy because you are worth it. Pay attention to how you feel when you eat certain things. Cut out the crap!!!
- Go get your hair done. If you don’t get it cut or colored, then just go out for a shampoo and style. I LOVE getting my hair done, probably more than getting a pedicure. What I like about it is sitting in the chair for 2 hours doing absolutely nothing while someone is “working on me”. LOL. And chatting with my hairstylist is fun too. Hair stylists are great listeners!
- Don’t blame yourself. Your new life with a baby will take some time to get used to and develop routines.
- Try to get at least 8 hrs of sleep. If you are tired during the day, take a nap while baby is napping. And DON’T worry about your long list of things to do. Just go lay down.
- If someone offers to help, say YES.
- Get your Vitamin D levels check and continue to supplement. Most importantly, GET OUT IN THE SUN!!!
I’m sure you’ve heard a ton of tips from other Moms and have probably Googled for ideas too. I wanted to write this post to share my own tips, just in case there were new ones you didn’t consider. The last thing I wanted to share regarding this was to think outside yourself. Often we spend time day after day focusing on our own struggles which makes them seem bigger and only more challenging to conquer. You can instantly shift your focus off of yourself when you do just that. Think of someone else. So my last tip is this….
- Find someone to help. It can be another Mom. It may be an elderly person. It can be anyone that just has a need. But find a need and MEET IT. In perspective, our needs and struggles are not that great. We have many things to be thankful for. Call a friend and ask if there’s anything you can do for them. But don’t let them just say, “oh I’m fine. I don’t need anything”. There is always a need.