Why Putting Yourself First Is Putting Your Family First
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
I know, completely counter-intuitive, right? Sounds like it but it really is not. And new moms are the worst offenders.
When you give and give and give and do not take even an hour out of your week to recharge your battery, you will end up on empty, with nothing left to keep giving.
Think of your car for a minute. It has a fuel gauge on it that tells you exactly how much fuel is left in your tank. Some will fill up when it is on ½, others will push it to ¼, still others roll into the gas station on fumes from time to time. They breathe a sigh of relief that they made it back to the pump without having to call a tow truck.
As a new mom, you probably think it is your time to give and get little in return. But I want to challenge this notion today. Because I believe that moms give so much to their family and for the sake of their continued mental health, they need to get something back on a routine basis to be able to keep having more to give to their families. I truly believe that giving is a reciprocal process. To be able to continue to give, you need to get from somewhere.
With this in mind, here are a few suggestions things new moms can do to recharge.
1. Put your needs on the list.
Many moms make the mistake of not even putting their needs on the to do list. Taking care of the baby, keeping the household running, keeping your partner happy are all top of the list. But you put yourself bottom of the list if you make the list at all. We all have that thing or two that makes you feel like you. Whatever that is, put it top of your list and you will likely find that doing so gives you the energy to take care of everyone else’s needs too.
2. Get restful sleep.
I get it. With a list of people seemingly a mile long to care for, that does not leave much time in your day for sleep. But sleep is as essential as oxygen. A person simply cannot go days on end without proper sleep. Lack of sleep ultimately ends up impacting your overall mental health. If you are chronically sleep deprived, its time to have a serious talk with your partner or other support people to get some rest.
3. Plan/attend monthly mom’s night outs.
Quality adult time with other moms who get what you are going through is so important to your mental health and well-being. I get that you may be tired at the end of the day and just not feel like making it back out of the house particularly when you are trying to get your little one to go to sleep. But again, I challenge you to do it every so often. Flip the script on yourself and say, “No, I need this and deserve this.”
4. Go on a date with your partner at least once a month.
A mistake I see many parents make is that they don’t continue to invest in their physical/emotional/intimate relationship as partners/spouses. Many couples describe it as this awkward situation where they feel like they are sleeping next to a person they barely know anymore. That is because during the early months and years of raising a child together, other things continue to happen in your lives.
Before having a baby, you probably had regular dates or weekend activities where you took time to catch up and stay current with what else was important to your partner. You need to continue to carve out time for your partner because that is what will keep you on the same page as parents. And as your children get older, they will know if their parents are on the same page or not.
Its important to realize that investing in your relationship is an investment in your family.
You recently had a baby and now you just don't feel comfortable in your own skin. Many moms no longer feel confident in their appearance. Luckily, there are a variety of services out there designed to work specifically with moms and include your little one, so you don’t have to mess with childcare, rather have more bonding time with them.
Just do a quick Google search for “postpartum stroller fitness” or “Mommy and Me Yoga” and you will probably find some options in your area. You can also find local resources on your local mom’s group (Facebook has one for nearly every town!)
Walking can also be great for getting active again and even with a newborn you can get out and enjoy some fresh air. The benefits of being physically active are many. You can connect with other moms while getting back in shape and it can also help your mental health remain strong.
6. Spend some quality time with your baby.
Another great way to recharge is take part in mindful activities with your baby. I say mindful because it is so easy to have your baby near you but get distracted by other things. So plan and commit to a Mommy and Me Music Class or regular infant massage class. You can also find weekly play groups in your neighborhood which allows you to spend time with you baby, meet other moms and recharge! A 3 for 1 combo!
7. Keep doing what made you happy before you had your baby.
Did you use to love ballet, museums, festivals or travel? We all have varied interests--it is what makes us a unique individual. Many new moms get lost in the throws of parenting and forget that there was once this fascinating person who loved _________________.
I am here to remind you that having a baby is not the end of your social life or your hobbies. Yes, you must find balance and may not get to indulge in your hobbies or past times as often for a time, but it should not be the end of them. So, do what parents do best, and juggle things around so you can again enjoy what you once lived for.
8. Talk to a therapist.
While this is last on this list, it should be high on your list. If you are not feeling like yourself and find you are just not happy with how you feel or who you have become, there is help out there for you. A clinician with advanced training in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders is well trained to help you in your journey as a parent. You can also see about attending a postpartum support group with other new moms. These groups are generally for moms with babies under 9 months old and you can attend with your baby.
Want to learn more about how nurturing your relationship with your partner as you welcome your new baby into your family? Please click here.
I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here.
COMING SOON! A workshop for couples who are thinking about or planning to have a baby, who are expecting a baby or who have children already. Based on years of research and experience and developed by the Gottman Institute, this 12 hour workshop is designed to repair communication skills and jump start your relationship with your partner. For more information, please click here.
Jennifer Perera is a mom, spouse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over a decade’s worth of experience in mental health. She has a private practice in New Jersey, with locations in Cranford and Princeton. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual, group and couples counseling. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with a pregnancy loss or infertility. Her other passion is travelling to different parts of the world and her goal is to vacation in a different locale every time. She also has a great fondness for cats!