5 Stages of Mom Stress – And How to Cope

Awhile back I did a collaboration with the wonderful San Diego Moms Blog about how to handle various stages of stress in motherhood. Just as relevant now, as it was back then.

If you are interested in discovering what some of my favorite San Diego businesses are and how I use them to handle the stress of having a toddler running around click here!

And to find out more about the San Diego Moms Blog and some of their great events to build your mom village check out their events!

woman carrying baby beside the seashore
Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi

 

image

You are Not SuperMom. SuperMom is You.

How many “Mom Blogs” do you follow on Instagram/Pinterest/Tumblr/[Insert other Social Media site]? Be honest. 2?  10? 25? More?? They all perfectly curate a page  of inspirational pictures and stories to show how amazing their kids, home, and overall life is. Even the pictures meant to show how messy life is or  how “real” they are, have been perfectly staged and professionally photographed.

This is all bulls**t. Excuse my French.

As a fellow mom, I know how hard we can be on ourselves, and these ideas of what a mom “should” be really don’t help. They make us feel like we should be doing more. Spending more. Committing more. Giving more. But how much more can you really give? Just the fact that you had 5 minutes to stop and scroll through Instagram is a miracle! When screaming toddlers and angst-y teens are a part of your everyday life there is no time for figuring out how to be SuperMom.

Women are naturally super human. We literally create life within us. Yet we live in a society where the act of CREATING LIFE isn’t enough. We are suppose to create life, tend to the house, bring home the bacon, and please the spouse. We let society put all these expectations on us, but what are we expecting of ourselves? Why are we listening to society??

Today I want to remind you of 4 reasons to stop trying to be SuperMom..

1. It’s impossible to do it ALL.

tired mom

Have you ever heard that multitasking is just doing multiple things badly? Well it’s true. Research shows time and time again that as we increase the quantity of things we do at once, we also decrease the quality of all of those things.

Have you ever tried cooking, dinner, helping a child with homework, doing laundry, and feeding an infant? You probably burned at least one part of dinner, the child ended up more confused about how to do long division, the laundry smelled moldy after being in the washer too long, and the infant got more food on the floor than in their mouth. Wow. Isn’t multitasking great? *Rolls eyes* What if you just cooked dinner, and asked the child to feed their younger sibling. The infant might have gotten fed (and spent some quality time with their older sibling). The dinner would have been cooked and stove turned off in a reasonable amount of time, leaving time to help the oldest child with their long division. And maybe you even got in a load of laundry done while they finished up their homework. Viola! This is how you get things done.

2. It is overrated.

Being the best of the best is overrated for sure. So what if you get every chore done in record time. What do you get for that? Pretty much nothing other than being really tired and unwilling to play with your kids (who have now holed themselves up in their rooms while you finished cleaning). No one is passing out trophies for doing it all. Things do need to get done, but some things can wait so that you can stop and smell the roses. Enjoying time with those precious humans you created is the biggest reward for being a mom.

If you must do the vacuuming, dusting, dishes, etc. though…here’s a hack. Have the kids do it with you. Turn on their favorite music, and assign them all chores. I know even my one year old likes to “help” me push the vacuum around. Dance and vacuum like no one is watching, and collapse on the couch with the kiddos when you’re done. Make spending time together the #1 thing on your to do list.

3. You lose yourself.

mother hiking

Being SuperMom means tending to one or more kids, tending to your spouse, and tending to the life that you were meant to live (not tend to). It makes you lose the very essence of yourself. What were your interests before the spouse or children came along? When was the last time you did something that remotely resembled that interest? Does SuperMom get the chance to tend to her own needs ever? No. Because SuperMom’s life does not have time for herself.

Stop to recharge yourself. Sometimes you need to take off the cape, so you can remember your true identity and live YOUR life. You can’t pour from an empty glass. You have to give yourself the space and time to get yourself in order, so that you have the patience and energy to give to these other valuable relationships. Just like you rather spend 5 minutes with a relaxed, happy spouse than an hour with someone who is grumpy and tired…imagine which version of yourself would your family prefer to spend time with?

 

4. Your kids already think you are SuperMom.

black mom and daughter

We spend so much time trying to be this fictional person. When in reality this fictional person was based on a real life you! You are already enough. You are already doing enough. Just the effort you put in is more than enough. You ARE SuperMom! Your kids see it. Your spouse sees it. Now it is time for YOU to see it. Trust me. Your kids think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread. They may not say it (or show it), but they know it. No child is going to school and asking their friends, “Did your mom get all the chores done yesterday? Because mine sure did!” That’s not happening. Trust me. The only one comparing you is you. All your kids know is without you their world would fall apart. You are literally holding their world together. Isn’t that super human?

 

The point of this all is to remind you that no matter how much or how little you get accomplished, what’s important is that you are putting in some effort. You are trying to be the best version of yourself, not the best version of the woman on your timeline. Here’s to you, Mom! Thank you for being a super version of you!

 

sign off

 

 

5 Reasons to Take Maternity Leave Early

So you found out you’re pregnant? Congrats! Now it’s time to start planning how the next 9 months are going to look. Trust me, you don’t want to just “go with the flow” for this one.

pregnant sweater

As the next few months go by you will realize just how hard it is to work and be pregnant. Now times that by 10, and you’ll find out how hard it is to work and have a newborn. If your lucky enough to be in a work place that is supportive of your new role as Mommy and provides an adequate amount of maternity leave, DO NOT take it for granted!

Maternity leave is the break you need and the break you deserve! You may feel the need to work until the baby is literally falling out of you, BUT I highly recommend against it. Taking as little as a week or as much as a month before your actual due date can be so beneficial to you, your relationship, and your future child. Here’s 5 reasons why…

1. Making Your Home Baby Friendly

You may have bought everything you needed or had family and friends contribute to what inevitably turned into a giant pile in the nursery. That pile isn’t very useful if it’s still a pile at 3AM when your changing a crying newborn’s diaper. Taking leave early gives you time to organize and sort through that pile. Some things that may need to be done with this pile before the little one arrives:

  • Organizing different diaper sizes. You’ll only be using Newborn or Size Ones for the first month or two. The rest can be stored away for later use.
  • Cutting tags off of clothes and washing them. This takes longer than you would expect. If you read the tag on these tiny clothes carefully they always recommend washing first before putting them on precious baby’s skin.
  • Disinfecting and deep cleaning your home. Sterilizing new bottles and pacifiers can save a lot of time when the little one starts going through bottle after bottle in the first few days. In addition to this a deep cleaning and disinfecting of your home in general can be helpful.
  • Making sure the pile has everything you need. While sorting make sure to check off all the items you have and what you may still need to run out and get before the big day.

2. Making Time for Your Girls

black girlfriends
Although your friends may be super supportive of you starting your family, many times single or childless friends can feel that they are getting pushed out of your life by this new little human. Use your time off to make brunch dates and enjoy some time with your girls. You may not be able to drink, but you can still enjoy a good laugh! In addition to spending some quality time together, you can also have them help you with things that need to get done around the house or run errands with you. Kill two birds with one stone!

3. Spending Time with Your Spouse

This is the last time it will be just you two. Soon a third life will make its way into the picture and change things forever (whether its changed in big ways or small ways is up to you). Partners are often the most affected by a new baby, as much as we’d like to think it is ourselves who are affected most, and it can be a difficult transition for them.

We spend 9 months growing a life inside of us and starting our relationship with our little one, but partners don’t get this same connection. Often times partners don’t start feeling the real transition until they get to hold their newborn for the first time. That means before little one arrives they are still focused on the two of you as a unit. This is the perfect time to capitalize on that!

Spend some time together as a couple and do something that you did when you first started dating or something new that you’ve wanted to try (Couples massage anyone??)! Really tune in to your partner and discuss your hopes and fears of the future quickly approaching. Establish some ways now you can stay connected when the baby arrives and promise to check in with one another as this new journey begins.

4. Refocusing on Yourself

alone sea

You have probably spent a lot of time focusing on the baby, family, friends, your home, and other things in the past few months. Utilize your maternity leave to take some time for yourself to relax and refocus on your needs. This is the one time you’ll have a vacation strictly for yourself.

Whether you are at home most of the day or decide to head out to your favorite park or beach, do something by yourself. Take some deep breaths, write a journal entry, or just think about ways you can be aware of your very being. Imagine where you were a year ago and how far you’ve come. The feelings that overwhelmed you at the beginning of your pregnancy and how you’ve managed to make it this far. Think of the values you want to hold close as you move forward and what activities or hobbies you want to keep up with as a mom.

You can take one day to do this or spend a little time each day centering yourself and preparing yourself for the next stage in your life. Whichever route you take, make sure you are staying true to who you are and who you want to be.

5. Mental Preparation for the Biggest Gift of Your Life

You can plan and prep for everything that seems important when it comes to bringing home a new baby, but nothing can truly mentally prepare you for the shift that will take place when that creature growing inside of you (or inside someone else) becomes a human that needs your care, love, and support for the rest of your life. Taking that extra time to seek out a therapist and explore some of the fears, anxieties, joys, and other million emotions that you’ve been feeling is one of the best ways to use your time off. Getting appointments scheduled when you have plenty of time on your hands and building a relationship with a therapist that cares will make it a lot easier to continue seeking this type of support after the baby arrives.

Building rapport is the first step with any good therapist and knowing that you have someone to turn to who gives an unbiased ear will be a tremendous stress relief in those weeks and months after delivery. Maternity leave isn’t all about getting a break from work. At it’s core, it’s really all about taking care of yourself in a very delicate time of your life. Whether pregnant, using a surrogate, or adopting maternity leave is a time to become in tune with yourself and the life you are bringing into the world.

 

sign off

Your Baby just did Something Amazing, and You Didn’t Even Notice.

Being a new mom is hard and with the world constantly telling you what we should and shouldn’t [do, watch for, feed, say, practice, look for]  with your new bundle of joy it only makes it harder. I spent so much time the first few months of my darling daughter’s life Googling every little thing she did and completely freaking out about my ability to mother her (and 95% of the things I was over-exaggerating about were completely normal “baby stuff”) .

I constantly had my phone in my hand. Every minute I spent on my phone was a minute I lost connection with my little girl. I really noticed the impact this was having on her when I noticed her interaction with her dad.
cell laptop

My partner would give undivided attention to her whenever he was home, and she just seemed…happier. They would engage fully and she had no complaints. Now this may seem obvious, “Duh. Of course a baby is going to want attention. And of course you shouldn’t be on your phone.” But it isn’t as obvious as you may think.

Becoming a mother means changing your entire lifestyle. No longer are you able to stay constantly connected to friends and family the way you once were. I use to spend days calling, texting, Snapchatting, Instagramming, (etc., etc.) with my friends and loved ones. I no longer had time to just meet up for drinks or chat on the phone for 2 hours. My friends started feeling neglected and I started feeling alone.

Being at home alone for weeks with a newborn was not as entertaining as I thought it would be. Once the baby came home I had to be on “Mommy Duty” 24/7. I would be thirsting for attention when my partner came home from work. And was ecstatic that I had someone to talk to and interact with on an adult level. (My poor fiancee.) When he wasn’t there, being on my phone was the only way to interact.

So, what’s the solution?  You shouldn’t ignore your child, but you also shouldn’t ignore your own needs. Well, being intentional is the key. I became very intentional about how I wanted to socialize.

In the mornings before the little one awoke, I would make calls to my best friend on the East Coast. It was a little early for me (definitely not a morning person), but it worked for her schedule and allowed for me to get my day started with the thing I was craving most, social interaction. During nap times I put the phone on speaker and talked to my mom while I washed up dishes or folded laundry. Once little one was old enough for visitors, I invited over a friend or two to spend some time at the house with me in the evening (sometimes we even snuck in a glass of wine or two if the little one had nodded off to sleep).

These “strategies” if you will, allowed me to put down the phone and interact with my darling when she was awake and still satisfy my craving for adult conversation. I no longer felt lonely and I no longer had to follow my poor fiancee around the house like a puppy dog in need of some lovin’.

Being intentional about your needs allows you to take care of yourself and those around you without getting burned out. Some good old fashioned self-care is always the answer.

 

sign off