When I became a mother, my entire world changed. You hear this cliche all the time; the world had never been brighter until there was you- but what is not so often shared about are the shadows of motherhood. Shadows so vast and dark you get lost, and find yourself forgetting who you were before motherhood and lost as a mother now. What does a lost mom do? They research. And what do you find? A hundred ways to be better. A hundred ways to be someone else. A hundred ways you compare yourself and find yourself in competition with women and children you’ve never met and know nothing about. A hundred pounds of guilt you carry while on this journey. And it’s time to lose the weight. It’s time to unpack the unnecessary baggage weighing you down, so that your arms can be free to hold this little baby that is so unaware of the world that surrounds us.
So how does a mom find herself again? Evolving naturally from the woman she was before to the one she is now in a way that feels like growth & maturity and not abandonment?
Step One. Evaluate and support your current mental health. Are you experiencing postpartum baby blues? Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, or Psychosis? Or are you just exhausted, unsure, and lacking self care? Give an honest assessment of yourself.
Step Two. Evaluate your physical health. Are you drinking lots of water? Going outside? Eating balanced nutrient rich meals? THIS was my biggest postpartum failure. I struggled to eat anything but fast food & quick sugary carbs like muffins, cereal, and PB&J’s. My husband was working around the clock, I had no family around, and I was in survival mode. It was destroying my mental health because my nursing body desperately needed more protein, fruits and vegetables. The solution to my problems ended up being vegan protein shakes and smoothies, and my mental health improved drastically within 3 days. It literally felt like I was resurrected from the dead and it makes all the difference.
Step Three. TALK about it with someone who loves you and whose values you respect. If you feel safe you can be vulnerable, because it will take vulnerability to heal.
Step Four. Internally process through fine art. That doesn’t necessarily mean painting- by playing music, dancing, reading, writing, crafting, singing- it doesn’t even have to be good, but expressing yourself through a creative outlet can create awareness to the internal pain you didn’t even know was there. That insight will help you figure out what you need.
Step Five. Seperate yourself. Motherhood felt ALL consuming; who am I now but a mom? When I began a project that had nothing to do with the baby- something completely separate from all things related to motherhood, I felt like I was reviving the parts of myself from the past that I was worried were lost. It is healthy to carry over important quirky aspects of yourself from your past to your present. There’s nothing wrong with continuing to investing in the parts of you that make you “you”- weather that’s a hobby, going back to work, traveling- whatever you loved before you were a mom still has a place in your life, it just may look different.
Step Six. Surround yourself in Community. Maybe Church, a Mom’s Club, a tight knit group of friends, a Hobby, a Team– any group that you feel energized, valued, challenged, excited, and cared for. Online communities are great, but nothing can compare to in person.
Step Seven. If you have past trauma either before motherhood or because of the birth, it’s time to unpack with a professional. This is a very sensitive time. Bringing a child into the world triggers various past fears and insecurities. These are not things you’ll want to intentionally teach to your child and they are not enjoyable to live with. Speaking as someone who’s been previously diagnosed with PTSD, Depression and Anxiety- it’s a very kind thing to do for yourself to set up appointments with someone who specializes specifically with postpartum care. Even just a few sessions can eliminate or better prepare you for some of these trials.
Step Eight. Celebrate. Celebrate what you have done. Celebrate your growing family. Celebrate with your husband that you’re now parents. Celebrate your baby. Celebrate in a way that is meaningful to you, and is not about appearances. If you’re taking photos or organizing parties to get approval from someone else- you’re robbing yourself. What do YOU find meaningful, fun, rejuvenating, life giving, sweet & natural? Do those things and don’t worry about trends- you’re creating moments for you and your kids, not for followers.
Step Nine. It’s not the most fun, but set boundaries. You do not have the same capacity you did before. Boundaries are there to protect you mentally, physically, emotionally, socially. If there is a toxic person, unhealthy habit, something that is making you sick or stealing all your time and energy; time to create a healthier safer space for you and your baby to thrive.
Step Ten. Breath. Our most basic, essential need is oxygen- more than water, food, exercise or love. Just because it is simple and automatic, does not mean it’s not of the utmost importance. Be conscience of taking deep breaths- holding them- and then sighing out. It will help your vital organs, your brain, and your mood. It’s no secret you are under a lot of stress- and there’s no shame in that! Breathing exercises will help you manage your stress- so just take a minute now and take in 3 deep breaths. You’ve got this mama. You really do.
I hope these 10 ways to lose some of the weight dragging you down in motherhood are helpful. Motherhood is hard, but do what you can to make it easier, lighter, healthier and more fun! The only thing I want you to feel the weight of, is how full of love your heart is and how heavy your chunky little baby your baby is getting because every day they are growing stronger, and so are you mama. So are you.