Motherhood doesn't come with a manual, which means you'll be doing lots of on-the-job training. Figuring out what works and what doesn't when it comes to caring for your infant can be pretty stressful at times. "With most jobs, we have time to get ready for our new roles," says Penny Shore, author of the ParentSmart book series. "But in the case of parenting, no one can be fully prepared for all of the unexpected demands that accompany this new role."
Fortunately, there are ways to minimize feeling frazzled during the first few months of motherhood. Here, some expert advice:
- Create a schedule of sorts. Start by jotting down a list of the day's tasks each morning, then decide what you can eliminate, delegate, or simplify so that you have free time for the unexpected schedule-breakers that baby may bring to the day. According to Mimi Doe, author of Busy, But Balanced, this establishes a routine, which just like your pre-baby life, is important for creating a rhythm to your day.
- Let it go -- and laugh. New moms should not expect perfection at every moment. "If it's nine o' clock in the morning and your kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes from last night's dinner, so what?" says Karen Buxman, MSN, a stress expert and president of HUMORx in Hannibal, Missouri. It doesn't make you a bad person. Tell yourself that you'll get to it at some point in the day. And when this kind of disorder makes you anxious, use humor to put it in perspective. Buxman advises asking yourself, "How could this be worse?" For instance, having a pile of dirty dishes could be worse if your husband's family was coming over in five minutes.
- Share stress relief with baby. Relaxing, just-for-you activities may seem unrealistic right now, but you can enjoy them by including your baby. When you put your infant down to nap, don't run around the house cleaning up. Instead, take a snooze with her. Or try sharing a bubble bath to help you both settle down before bed.
- Write it out. Journaling is a proven anxiety reducer. Check out New Psalms for New Moms: A Keepsake Journal by Linda Ann Olson (available at 800-458-3766 and Amazon.com). The book includes guided journal pages with questions and ideas for writing about new motherhood. Says Olson, "As you complete sections, you're also creating a one-of-a-kind memoir."
- Pat yourself on the back. When all else fails, remember this: "Look at the miracle of what you've just done," says Doe. "And tell yourself that you're doing the most productive thing on earth just by being a mother."
The content on these pages is provided as general information only and should not be substituted for the advice of your physician.
© Studio One Networks