Oh, the adversity of the postpartum years – the amazing, life-giving, otherworldly experience that somehow leaves us hollow inside. A nicer way to call our incessant baby blues and high-functioning mommy depression. A vicious circle of never-ending chores that triggers our worst existential nightmares.
(If we ever get to dream at all, that is.)
Instead of the promised fulfillment and joy, many new moms come to experience paralyzing loneliness. The world of newborns is the world with no adults, baby-powdered by the monotony of doing the same old repetitive and often meaningless tasks. It is the world where moms are always on call, 24/7.
No time to savor sleep, cooking, books, or fragrant facials.
But hey, if you were brave enough to bring an amazing new person to the world, then you must be brave enough to weather the post-partum storm. That strength is somewhere within you – the only thing you have to do is unlock it again. Regain your energy, rekindle the passion, and rewire your brain.
Here’s how in 3 baby steps.
1. Redefine Your and Your Kid’s Priorities
Nothing can be more important than this.
The tiring atmosphere and the tone of the baby blues come from our own misinterpretation of motherhood. It goes like this – we are the real adults now, so it’s up to us to make the world a safer place for our little ones. And, since we cannot make any important change, let’s clean the entire house.
This must sound awfully familiar.
The problem is, we cannot be everywhere at once or do everything at the same time. Being a mom truly is a full-time job; there’s little if any, room left for earning money, doing chores, staying fit and healthy, or socializing. The pursuit of a more creative and mindful life? Let’s leave that to wide-eyed girls.
And that, dear moms, is perfectly okay.
Yes, your role in life has changed, and yes, you’ll have to put your intimate needs aside for now. It’s true what they say about priorities, though – self-deprivation is never the answer. Your kids want a happy mom, not a drawer full of fresh socks. You don’t have to do everything. You have to save you.
If your kid comes first, your well-being must come second.
2. Don’t Sing the Baby Blues in Silence
If something’s still wrong, please speak up.
Postpartum depression is usually of the high-functioning kind, which means that nobody but you is able to notice the depths behind it. Don’t keep it all inside. It’s still a mental health condition that must be addressed, so seek help. Talk to you partner, confide in your family, and if need be, visit a professional.
Like any other illness, it won’t go away on its own; it can only get worse if untreated.
In case there’s no solace for you at home, go online to find other women in your position. You’re definitely not alone in this, and there are dozens of forums and online groups where you can share your troubles with other moms. They’ll help you vent, and give you advice on how to overcome it all.
An online organization called Postpartum Support International is a good place to start.
3. Take It Slow and Seek Simple Pleasures
Some people pursue happiness and purpose their entire lives without ever discovering anything meaningful about themselves and the world that surrounds them. But, owning your joy is actually not so hard. It takes intrinsic motivation and a strong will – a genuine desire to be a fulfilled and joyful mom.
And, it’s something you don’t need a lot of time for. There are surprisingly simple exercises that can help you relax and recharge your batteries in only a couple of minutes, regardless of how hectic the circumstances are. If you truly commit to them with all your passion, they’ll rewire your brain for good.
For example, try to watch, read or share something funny every day.
However you feel at the moment, learn to name your emotion.
When you start spiraling, focus on your breathing and acknowledge your worries.
Most importantly, stop expecting other people to acknowledge you. Moms rarely get any gratitude and positive feedback, and that’s usually what drains us the most. Let people know how hard you work, but stay emotionally self-sufficient and never forget to appreciate and reward yourself.
After all, joy comes from the inside.
Be a mom first, a person second, and a housewife third. If your kid is safe and sound in her bed, don’t choose dishes over books. If you’re too tired to do anything, go to sleep. If not, invite a girlfriend over, enjoy a movie, or do whatever you’ve been dreaming about the night before. Enjoy simple pleasures.
Whatever you’re going through, remember that you’re not the first nor the last. Around 1 million moms face adversity each year in the U.S. alone, so find some comfort in that. Soon enough you’ll heal, just like many women before you have. Just stay patient and determined, and give yourself some time.