Top Tips For Avoiding That Feeling of Isolation As a New Mum
Bringing home a newborn baby can mean a huge adjustment in many ways. So many factors that you took for granted pre-baby may now take a major impact – your time, your money, your sleep, and even your friendships. Time for long lunches and girly catch ups seems non-existent, invitations to parties slow down and the desire to put on a nice outfit only to be covered with spit up wains as the weeks fly by. New mums are often heard complaining of losing track of what day it is, what they last ate and the troubles of just getting out of the front door in the morning. While you are battling feeds, colic and poo-plosions, the rest of the world carries on as usual, and it can be hard not to feel isolated in a world where discussions of how wet a nappy is reign supreme.
Today we discuss our top tips to avoid that feeling of isolation – we want to stress the importance of feeling good about yourself, about your relationships and about how you spend the (very little) spare time you have.
Embrace offers of help
When your baby arrives, you may feel like you can do it all, but there will, without a doubt be offers of help with the baby, the cooking and perhaps the cleaning. Take the help! If your mother in law wants to drop off a homemade lasagne, let her! If your neighbour offers to walk the dog while you are snowed under, say yes! And if your mates offer to pop over and do a load of washing while you have a long soak in the tub, then absolutely let it happen! By accepting offers of help, no matter how small, you are able to free up some time that you can spend on yourself, on your baby and on doing those things you so dearly miss. If you are feeling super organised, lock in a catch up phone call to your best friend on the nights you don’t have to cook. Answer those emails that have been piling up to stay in touch with the ‘outside world’. Pop out for a quick coffee with a work chum if time allows it – all of this contact with friends and family will help you to engage in conversations with other adults, and lead to you feeling less isolated.
Find a routine that works for you AND your baby
Finding a good routine that works for the whole family can be difficult. Many books that stress rigid bed times and activities will work for some, but not for others, and everyone will have advice for you with regards to what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Our best advice to you is to find a relaxed routine that fits in with you AND your baby, and don’t take it to heart when some days don’t go exactly to your little cherubs plans. By having an idea of when your baby will sleep, you’ll be able to schedule in time for yourself to connect with friends and family. If you know that your baby sleeps best in the car, hook up the hands free and call your bestie to let her know how you are going. If your baby will gurgle happily for an hour in the pram, head out on a short walk and say hello to your neighbours. Even if you are too tired to engage with others, by having somewhat of an idea when you can snatch a few moments for yourself, you’ll be able to take a shower, sit down to a healthy snack or steal forty winks on the sofa – and all of these options will help you to remain in a good headspace for the remainder of the day.
Identify the activities that you don’t want to sacrifice
If you’ve always loved the gym and are desperately upset to see your membership go unused, then make an effort to keep up with your favourite activities. Ask a friend or parent to watch your baby for an hour while you hit your favourite class, take advantage of gym crèches or babysitting services, or join a bootcamp where your baby can come along (Hello Buggy Bootcamp 😉 ) If you desperately miss seeing the latest movie, are craving lunch at your favourite hotspot or are in dire need of a wax or facial, look at the big picture and realise that by taking an hour away from your baby duties, you are filling your well-being tank, and giving yourself an hour or two to reinvigorate your energy stores. Taking an hour out of the house and return feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. Keep the ‘mummy guilt’ at bay by looking at the bigger picture – one hour a month equates to one hour every 744 hours, not nearly enough to beat yourself up about taking some much needed time for yourself.
Join a club
Find a local club that fits in with your parenting ethos – mothers group, multiple births club, attachment parenting clique, eco-parenting catch ups, Mums and baby workout teams… regardless of what type of parent you are or what interests you, there WILL be a club out there that will suit your style and there will be other like-minded new mums who are in exactly the same boat as you and your baby. It may feel overwhelming at first, to join a group of women you don’t know, but by and large, mums are a welcoming chatty mob, and the adult interaction along with the opportunity to share ideas and ask for advice, will provide a fantastic platform for you to make new friends, engage in interesting conversation, and leave you feeling like you’ve made meaningful connections with lovely people.
Go for a walk
Exercise is a fantastic way to clear your head, get in a little cardio activity and meet new people. Be prepared by packing your buggy the night before, and set short limits for yourself so that you aren’t disappointed if baby becomes unsettled and you have to turn back. Make an effort to greet people you pass, and be prepared to be stopped by total strangers who want to drink in every ounce of cuteness your new baby has on offer. You’ll be beaming with pride on return, both with yourself for getting out of the house, and for the times when your baby stole the show and had people making all sorts of funny faces and noises in their moment of adoration. Mental Health walks are totally a thing!
Make time each week for a phone call/coffee catch up/email
If you are missing brief catch ups with friends, it is important to create short time slots in your day every so often to make sure you can still connect with others. Order your groceries online or treat yourself to a day every so often with no laundry or housework (we promise it will still be there tomorrow!), and book in that phone call or coffee that you’ve been missing. Figure out where you can simplify your ‘to-do’ list and take advantage of the time it can buy you.
Make time for yourself
It is important to remember that it can take a village to raise a child, and while it may be difficult to leave your baby with anyone in the early days, remember that there are others who are on this journey with you, like your partner or a special family member, who would no doubt love some one on one time with your new addition. Time your feeds and promise yourself a short break from motherly duties, allowing someone you trust to find their way with your baby without you watching over their shoulder. If you have severe feelings that you’ll be missing out, keep your time slots to a half an hour break, and pop to the shops solo, get a quick pedicure or use the time to fit in a leisurely stroll or workout.
Make a Meal Plan
Eating well is of paramount importance when you’ve just had a baby – you need to nourish your body and your baby’s, but this is no mean feat. With limited time and most probably a lack of culinary inspiration, we suggest making a meal plan at the beginning of the week. Not only will it save you money and time at the supermarket, you’ll also feel better for giving your body the best chance of recovery post-birth and your milk supply a boost should you need it. Make a ceremony of meal time, sit and savour your creations, and use the time to share with your partner or a loved one what your beautiful bundle did to keep you busy that day. If your baby has started on solids, you can create a simple meal plan for him/her too! Batch cooking purees is a great time saver in the kitchen, and once you’ve got a little supply in the freezer, you can alternate flavours and textures so that your baby has a wide and varied diet. Be sure to put the time you’ve saved to good use, and catch up on some much needed sleep if you can.
While all of these tips might seem overwhelming and impossible to manufacture in your early days, it is important for you to take the advice that works for you to alleviate the pressure and isolation that is often associated with bringing home a new baby. By creating time in your schedule to focus on you, on your interests and your relationships, you are not sacrificing focus form your baby, but giving your little one a mother who is in a good place, both physically and mentally.