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September 28, 2018
I spent so much time postpartum on maternity leave as a new mom sitting and watching TV. Alone. With my baby sleeping on me. It sounds cute and it was, for a few days. But, in the end, it was a bad thing to be isolated and mindless for so long.
The parents I see in my pediatrics clinic who feel the most content (instead of “blah” like I felt) have a plan for what to do with their time on parental leave and beyond. They know that, while unstructured weeks on end SOUND like a good idea, it usually leaves them feeling pretty down and purposeless once they’re about a month (or sooner) into it. We can ALL learn from them!
When my second baby came along, I made a commitment to turn off the TV and to turn on background music instead. I made playlists so I could already have music on-command that inspired and relaxed/energized me. I made a list of the friends I wanted to connect with and books I wanted to read. I figured out a self-care plan. I set up some (very light) contract work to do for a local health organization during my maternity leave. Non-stressful tasks that aren’t baby-related are so important for us, especially if we are used to being at work 40 hours a week.
Even if your baby is already here, take a moment to make a plan for self-care and for mental stimulation in the early days, weeks and months- it will pay off in the end.
There you are, half-dressed on maternity leave with baby vomit on your sweatshirt, hair kinked and messy, a house strewn with toys (that you swear you just picked up last night – how on earth did they get all over the house again so soon?).
It’s either laugh or cry on those crazy parenting days. How to get from a feeling a complete desperation to a place of peace? I use a technique I call “Out of the Bubble.”
Imagine yourself sitting on top of a huge glass bubble and you’re inside it with your child, having your moment. You can see what’s going on but you’re not a part of it. Instead, you’re an observer. You notice what’s going on before your eyes but it’s going on in front of you, not to you, like you’re watching yourself in a movie. Suddenly, as you breathe and observe, you’re not so caught up in how horrible everything is right then. You have emotional distance and gain some objectivity.
Of course, breathing in and out and while using imagery is not going to solve every problem you ever have as a parent, and you may not be able to even use this strategy every time you have a crazy day. When you can use it, though, you’ll feel yourself relax and develop mindfulness. You’ll build resilience in yourself and your kids as they watch you learn how to cope in stressful situations.
We all know that maternity leave is no walk in the park. Hard days, boring days, in-between days…it’s like a roller coaster. There are, though, hidden blessings in it all. Learn to get mindful and intentional while you’re at home with your baby and you’ll set yourself up for long-term success months, even years later.
Want more information about how to parent and cope when you’re a new mom? Check out our book, The Newborn Baby Blueprint: Preparing to Care For Your Infant and Yourself.
Looking for baby registry or baby shower gifts? You’ll love our Newborn Gift Boxes (in Baby Boy, Baby Girl, and Gender Neutral). They’re full of information, inspiration, and a little love for all the mamas and mamas-to-be in your life (including you!).
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