This past year as a new mom has been a whirlwind filled with exciting new memories, challenging experiences, and numerous life lessons. As I write about the “7 realizations about being a new mom,” I’m sitting in a salon getting a much needed pedicure and multitasking (as usual- haha!).
If you’re a mom, especially a working mom, you know how hard it is to do things you used to not think twice about – like run errands or schedule time for self-care or even write a blog. It has been way too long since I wrote a blog post, so here we go!
7 Realizations About Being a New Mom
- Self-Compassion is essential. I’ve heard people joke about “mom guilt”, but had no clue it was an actual thing until I had my son. Of course, I had a vast amount of joy, excitement, and happiness about my precious baby boy. However, the mom guilt was present too. It made me question whether I was spending enough time with him, reading enough, playing enough, going outside enough, socializing enough, and the list goes on. It was especially intense when I first went back to work. When I left my son in the nanny’s care to go to work, I felt guilty and when I took time off to be with him, I felt guilty about not working enough. It was quite the double bind! Over time, I learned to set boundaries with that guilt and have a good handle on it now, but it can definitely get the best of you if you let it.
- Have realistic expectations of yourself and others. The transition from a household of 2 to 3 is HUGE so it takes time to adjust. I love to have a clean and organized home, but after having a baby, I had to lower my expectations. Learning to accept my limitations and the fact that I couldn’t be everything to everyone all the time was not easy and I thank God for my husband’s active involvement! We quickly figured out that we needed to split up responsibilities, take shifts in the middle of the night, and pre plan meals for the week. We even decided to eat off of plastic plates for the first few months after he was born, LOL. One of the things that was helpful for me was to focus on all the things we WERE doing versus what we were not. After all, there’s only so much time in the day and it’s impossible to get everything done, especially if you value sleep as much as I do!
- Be present and enjoy the moment. As an entrepreneur managing 2 businesses (Bayview Therapeutic Services and K2 Visionaries), I used to think time flew, but add a baby on top of it and it really flies! Since I own my own businesses, it’s difficult for me to completely disconnect from work when I’m at home. In order for me to focus on work when I’m at work and focus on my son when I’m with him, I had to up the ante with my support network (nanny, babysitters, and family). It really does take a village! I constantly check myself to make sure I’m fully present so I can experience all of the amazing “firsts” with my son.
- Attaining balance is key. Notice I said attaining, not maintaining? The search for work/life balance has been an ongoing theme in my life. Since I’m super ambitious and love what I do for work, it makes it very difficult to stay in balance, especially after my bundle of joy arrived. I love spending time with my son, husband, family and friends as well. If one responsibility is overtaking the others, I take the necessary steps to reorganize and regain balance. I’ve learned that balance is not a stable thing and that both sides are always fluctuating.
- Prioritize your couple relationship. The first few months after our son was born, we were in “survival mode”. Since all of our energy was going toward our little one, alone time as a couple time was the last thing on our minds. Once we found our rhythm as new parents, we were able to realign our relationship as a priority. We found good babysitters for date nights and had fun creating new memories together as a couple and as a family. In my practice, I’ve worked with countless couples who neglected their relationship after having kids and years later they were in my office complaining of disconnection, unhappiness, and some even on the brink of divorce. Those stories motivate me to ensure I create time for my husband and to nurture our relationship.
- Self-care is a must. I’m in the profession of caring for others. Add a little person on top of that and my self-care can plummet to the bottom of the list. In order for me to be as effective as I need to be for my son, my family, and my clients, it’s VITAL that I schedule self-care. It’s amazing what a little dose of Florida sunshine or a walk outside can do for me and if I don’t make it to Pilates twice a week, I feel totally out of whack. When I really need a self-care splurge, a little retail therapy works wonders! Figure out what your self-care sweet spots are and make sure you schedule them. One of my friends became a Cultural Care Au Pair when she was trying to learn better English and the family that she was helping only employed her so the mom would have time to look after herself while my friend looked after the kids. She said that once she was there, the mom could practice self-care there was a visible change in her demeanour.
- Perfection doesn’t exist. There is a HUGE learning curve for first time parents. No matter how much I read and researched about being a new mom, I often wondered whether I was doing things the “right” way. I quickly learned through experience that the only right way is the one that works best for me, my child, and my family. This doesn’t mean don’t read and don’t prepare, it simply means to take your own spin on things and it’s ok if things don’t go by the book.
Since being a new mom, I’ve experienced the most profound love for another human being, which no words could describe. I’ve realized that being a new mom is the MOST challenging, yet MOST rewarding job ever. I’ve always had respect for mothers and parents in general, but that respect and admiration has increased 10 fold. I’m so grateful to call myself a mom and feel honored to be amongst this amazing group of women.
For women who are thinking about having children and being a new mom, I hope this inspires you. For all the mothers out there, I wish you a warm and happy (belated) Mother’s Day. Each day, each of you are truly inspirational in your own way!
Kate Campbell, PhD, the author of “7 Realizations About Being a New Mom,” is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who is passionate about helping people develop more satisfying and fulfilling relationships. She owner of Bayview Therapeutic Services, a multidisciplinary private practice located in east Fort Lauderdale and co-owner of K2 Visionaries, a personal and professional development company for mental health professionals. “Dr. Kate” is a relationship expert who works with individuals, couples, adolescents, and families. She also works with expectant mothers and couples as well as new parents navigating the transition to parenthood.