Adjusting to Motherhood Amid a Pandemic
Adjusting to motherhood is beautiful and life-changing. It’s also hard.
Uncertainty is normal, and in a time when everything from work hours to school closures are uncertain, this adjustment is harder still. Motherhood, anxiety, and depression have increased since the start of the pandemic. Many of us have never felt this out of control.
Now, there is a new person in your life, and the world outside is scary.
Still, it’s possible to come out of the other side of this with your sanity and pleasant first memories of motherhood. Consider the following advice as you make this adjustment one day at a time.
Give Yourself Time and Space to Grieve
This pandemic has taken a lot from all of us. Some of us have lost family members, others lost jobs. The loss of routine, consistency and security takes a huge toll on mental health.
Adjusting to motherhood while social distancing from loved ones and quarantining from our support networks is difficult. Give yourself permission to feel this grief. Know that what you’re feeling is valid, and keep in mind that grief comes and goes. It's okay to be alright one moment and sad the next. That's how grief works.
Know You are Not Alone, Even in a Pandemic
Humans are not wired to live in isolation; especially new mothers. Even with social distancing and quarantine in effect, you can find creative ways to socialize. Moms around the world use Zoom, Skype, and Facebook Messenger to video call one another.
If you’re new to your neighborhood, there are ways to find other mothers going through the same post-partum stresses and adjustments as you. Here are a few ideas for creative socialization to get you started:
Facebook groups for your local schools, daycares, and preschools
Apps like Peanut for finding new mom friends
Library programs, both distanced and virtual
Find (or start!) an outdoor playgroup
Acknowledge that This is Not Normal
Even though we are many months and counting into this pandemic, we still need to acknowledge that this is not normal. We’ve developed a relative sense of "new normal," but eventually, this very abnormal life we lead will be behind us. Focus on the normalcy still present in your life. Does the dog still bark at the mail person? Is the cat still sleeping in boxes? During a global emergency, when so much is out of our control, your focus is still yours.
Check-in with Yourself
Child psychologists use the acronym H.A.L.T. to help parents remember to check in with how their child is feeling. This is an equally useful tool for adults! When you realize you're feeling off, anxious, or just plain blah, remember HALT - hungry, angry, lonely, tired/thirsty.
Take a moment to examine how you feel. You might realize you skipped lunch or your mouth is dry and you need a drink. If you're angry or lonely, text or call someone and ask them how they're doing or talk through whatever has you upset. (No matter how "silly" it might seem; your feelings are valid.) Let's face it, being a mom and being tired often go hand in hand. That leads to the last bit of advice I have for you.
Everyone knows this is easier said than done. It’s still important! The phrase “sleep when the baby sleeps” gets thrown around a lot. Many new moms respond with something like, “But then when do I have time for me?” It’s a great question and one with a relatively straightforward answer. Rest comes in many forms.
If napping is out for you, put on your favorite music while you prop up your feet or do the dishes. It’s okay to watch a TV show while the baby is napping! Rest means revitalizing yourself, so do something completely just for yourself. Self-care is not selfish.
Do you need further help adjusting to motherhood? Why not speak to a therapist about more strategies necessary to care for you and your baby? Please read more about postpartum counseling and schedule your first consultation to learn how to adapt to life with your new baby today.