March's new mom group conversation

The second Saturday of the month is my support group for new moms and babies. Each session starts out with introductions and then goes in our main topic. We leave about 30 minutes for Q&A, then close. Starting this month, my goal is to write a follow-up blog post featuring some of the highlights of our conversation. This month we discussed "developing a routine with a new baby". We talked challenges, the impact of our shifting identity (from "me" to "we") on a routine, the must-know's or need to accepts and some solutions.

We isolated the very clear challenges with developing a new routine. Those included: the basic issue of having to bring another human being along with you who can't support himself, stand by herself, feed or change himself. That's A LOT in and of itself!  We acknowledged that because "the answer changes all the time," it can be hard to plan time to do _____ or count on having dinner at 7:30 pm each night. The fact that there is such a substantial learning curve with having a new baby complicates every decision, let alone when we might have time to exercise, for example. An employer expects it to take a while for a new employee to learn the ropes of a new job. Moms don't get any such concession with a baby; they are thrust right into the thick of it! The bar is set very high with often little time and few resources or support.

Routines, we acknowledged, are safe. They are safe because we know what we can expect and count on. So when we don't have a routine, life can feel unpredictable and scary. So they are important, We talked about how developing a new routine was essential. Wearing our new "mom" hat instead of our old, familiar "(insert your name here)" hat would ground that new routine. Ideally with this "mom" hat on, we will start to accept realities like "it's not the end of the world if dinner doesn't happen at 7:30 each night." whereas before that might not have felt like an option. Wearing our "mom" hat will hopefully allow us to sink into that new identity and perhaps get used to asking for help more often, for example.

Some "need-to-know's" that we came up with were:

  • Our time is just more limited. Even the smallest tasks will take much longer.
  • "It" won't be like "this" forever but it will be for a while. So reframing can allow us to accept a different kind of meaning for "routine".
  • We will never be able to get it all done. There will always be something to do.

A few solutions:

  • Creating "anchor" tasks to help offset the frazzle.  Examples: shower every day, use a meal planning service (this one was recommended) , exercise certain days of the week not 5 days perhaps but maybe 2-3.
  • Limit the number of "yeses" that we agree to. Some things are just not realistic any longer. And that's okay.  It's temporary and it's okay.
  • Watch our use of "should". "Should" often carries obligation or guilt with it and we don't need any more of that!
  • Be kinder to ourselves. Letting go of what people think or what "should" be happening.
  • Find a community of support. Whether that is a group of moms like this one, new moms in your neighborhood or a LLL group, it's essential to be connected to other moms who are in a similar place.
  • Ask for help more. People want to help. Whether that mean someone else lifting our baggage into an overhead bin as we settle into a plane with baby or "just" taking someone up on their offer to walk the dog, accepting help more often will take the pressure off us while making someone else feel good for doing good.  A win-win!
  • Self-care.  Let's get more of that in there. Exercise, time away from baby, a massage perhaps! Make sure we are taking good care of ourselves.

I hope this summary is helpful for a new mom who may be interested in attending and as a refresher for those who did attend. Our April topic is: travel with baby.

Dear reader, what would you add?  Or is there something that you wished was discussed?  Leave a comment below.  

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