There’s no denying it, I’m a hot mess. Although, I prefer the title of the disheveled blond. One year into motherhood and there are still days that I stop myself in my tracks and think, “when did I shower last?!?” and “have I eaten today?” But hey, such is the life of a working mom right?
As mothers (new or seasoned), I think most of us can agree that the last person we typically think about is ourselves. First and foremost is our kid, then our spouse, work, the extended families, friends – heck, I even put the dog before myself (okay, so I did that before I was a mom, too). But where am I in this list? I was telling a friend the other day, that she needs to focus on herself, her baby girl and her husband. Those are her priorities right now, and everyone else can wait. In telling her this, I thought to myself, this is much easier said than done – because I sure don’t do it. One year later, and I’m still slowly figuring motherhood out.
Here’s what I’ve learned (so far):
People want to help, lean on them.
This is obvious, right? I mean everyone tells us this. But if you’re like me – you don’t ask for help. Ever. For anything. I will load my arms up from elbow to wrist with grocery bags, just so I can avoid asking for help. It’s just not in my nature.
So when I was scheduled for a work trip and my husband had an event on the same day – we knew we had to find someone to watch our daughter for us. I knew exactly who to ask, and I knew that they would be more than happy to help, but I still dreaded picking up that phone. I dreaded making that call. I dread inconveniencing people. And I have this skewed view that asking for help is inconveniencing people. Of course, they were more than happy to watch Finley – which removed a huge weight off of my shoulders. When telling another friend about this, she looked at me and said, “Megan. People want to help you.” I guess that was my ultimate “aha” moment.
For the most part, people want to help. Especially friends and family. Lean on them when you need. Don’t take advantage, obviously. But lean on them. And don’t wait 9 months like I did until figuring this out.
Create your village.
Motherhood is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. This is not an understatement. Your heart is so full it feels as if it’s going to burst at any moment. But there are also days where tears burst from your eyes without warning. And more often than not, you want someone that can listen to you and say, “I get it.” I didn’t realize how much I needed a village until I found them.
I joined a new mom’s group thinking that I’d get tips from other freshie moms, and gain confidence in myself as a mother. What I didn’t know, is that I’d get those things and so much more. By joining a mom’s group, I entered a world where being emotional and raw and real was accepted and encouraged. Where your fears and anxieties were validated. And where you were never judged for being unable to calm your baby or for forgetting an extra set of clothes at home. Instead, you were greeted with fellow mom’s handing over pacifiers to help calm the crier, clothes for your little one to travel home in, open arms and open hearts.
This is a big one folks. Find your village. And love them hard. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Give yourself 15 minutes a day.
I’m not going to lie to you, this one is harder than it sounds. Way harder. Because I’m not talking about 15 minutes to sleep or eat. No. Those are human necessities and should not be considered as giving yourself 15 minutes to yourself. I’m talking about taking 15 minutes to go for walk, take a bath, relax with a glass of wine, meditate, blog, crossword, do your hair.
This one took me awhile to learn as well. I didn’t realize how much I needed those 15 minutes. But I remember at around 3 or so months postpartum, lacing up my shoes and going for a run. My first run since I had been 5 months pregnant. You see, I used to be a runner. It was where I found some of my greatest joy. Marathons were my forte, and life was all about getting miles under my belt. In fact, my life was so consumed by running that I just assumed, I would be able to run through all 9 months of my pregnancy. But my body had other plans, and I had to stop anything more than 400 meter sprints at 5 months. So when I laced up and got out for a run at 3 months postpartum, my emotions went wild. I only was able to make it a couple miles – and they were slower than I was used to. But I felt alive, I felt free, I felt like me again. When I stopped running, I broke down in tears. I love being a mother more than words can even describe. But I needed those 15 minutes of just me time more than I realized.
15 minutes. It doesn’t seem like much, but it truly plays a major role in the psyche. And while it’s still hard to get those 15 minutes of “me” time. When I do, I swear I’m a better mother for it.
I could go on for pages of what I’ve learned as a new mother. But these are some key takeaways that I think every mother should know. After all, doing it all ourselves, does not make us superheroes. It does not make us stronger than others. Sometimes asking for help, learning from others, and putting ourselves first – even if it’s just for a few minutes a day – is the most challenging thing of all. And I truly believe we come out stronger in the end for doing it.