My story into motherhood is not unique except for one key factor. My family moved two times before our infant turned 4 months. And not just down the street. We moved from Seattle to Chicago and then Chicago to Columbia. So yes we moved across the country with an infant for my husband’s work to a new city where we had no family nearby. Along this motherhood journey, I discovered a few things that helped me adjust to being a new mom in a new town as well as living in a place with no built in support structure.
I found out how important it is for me to have something just for me. Now that may sound selfish at first but it truly isn’t. Infants need lots of care from you around the clock. And toddlers want all of your attention but you deserve some “me time” so this new role of mom doesn’t drive you insane. This time to yourself is beneficial for everyone in your family so you can feel relaxed or grounded even for a little while. For moms who work outside of the home as well as full time moms, we all need to make time for ourselves. Here are a few ways to make this happen:
1. Treat Yo’Self (Quote From Donna on Parks and Rec)
I know it can be hard to balance work, life, and family with the limited time the day affords. Giving yourself just 30 minutes a week to do something only for you can be helpful. Think of those long gone days before baby when you loved to do certain things for yourself – getting your nails or hair done, reading a book, exercising (postnatal yoga can help get you back into shape and relax your mind as well), taking a bath, or continuing a creative hobby. Some moms even turn their creative passions into a part time job they can do from home.
Your well-being is important for yourself as well as your family. These minutes you enjoy to yourself should be done without guilt. You have to function on little sleep and have a little one (or many little ones) depending on you all day. You deserve a break! Now I know it’s not easy or cheap if you don’t have family living near by so that brings us to tip number 2.
2. Create and Use Your Support System
Whether you have relatives, close friends without kids, or a helpful spouse, reach out to them to help with your little one. If you need a break to do anything that’s easier to do without a baby, use this team to support you! Even small errands, grocery shopping, or taking a shower can be so much more relaxing and quicker without having to worry about baby for a few minutes. Working mamas I know you can always use a few minutes alone to get necessary stuff done on nights and weekends.
If you don’t have these people close and can afford a babysitter, have them come even for a few hours a week while you’re home with baby. This can greatly improve your sanity. I was lucky enough to have this paid support since we don’t have family or friends without kids near us and my husband works unpredictable hours. Getting a few hours a week to do my own thing really helped me feel like my old self as well as the opportunity to get things done without having to worry about baby missing a nap. Plus my daughter got to interact with other adults and I got time to miss my little one and couldn’t wait to be with her when I returned.
3. Make Mom Friends
This can be done in number of ways! It helps to connect with moms who have babies around the same age as yours and are experiences the same stages you are going through. There may be a work colleague who is on maternity leave at the same time as you. Or maybe you have a neighbor due the same time. If you don’t know anyone personally, you can go to a mom and baby class offered at places like MyGym or The Little Gym. The library offers baby and toddler story times and is free! Having any outlet and access to an adult conversation and a playmate for your baby can feel like a huge reprieve. If you’re from out of town like me, I found that other new transplants to the area made great friends since they were also looking to connect with moms and didn’t have a built in support system.
When you’re hanging with other new mamas, you can swap crazy stories that you never thought you’d talk about in a million years before baby. Like how many colors of poop there can be or breastfeeding scenarios that sound like something out of a Sci-fi movie. Having mom friends to walk with, talk with, and commiserate with on how hard parenting can be, can feel like free therapy.
These are just a few ways I’ve been able to retain my sanity with a busy spouse and being home almost exclusively with my daughter for two straight years. I’ve needed this “me time” and appreciate all my mom friends who’ve helped me along the way. Without them, I’d probably still have some green poop smeared on my cheek.
What has helped you maintain your sanity as a new mom?
Kyla Saphir is a new mom to Columbia, who recently moved here from Chicago via Seattle for her husband’s work. She has a 2-year-old daughter who she is at home with when she’s not teaching prenatal yoga at the Downtown YMCA. Kyla is a 200 hour certified yoga teacher with 85 hour prenatal certification.