When I was pregnant with my son, I read all the books I could get my hands on, read articles on-line, signed up to baby websites, talked to friends who had children and whatever else I could find to prepare myself for life as a new mum. So with all my research and enquiries, I felt pretty confident I had this first-time mum – life with a newborn thing down. I felt ready. But Lord have mercy! Reading about someone else’s experience and reading about what to do is totally not the same as experiencing it for yourself. You soon realise that what you’ve read about soothing a crying baby at nights on page 50 of that best seller baby manual or what Aunty Rose advised you to do because she did it with all six of her kids, just didn’t work – you were still up struggling to stop your little one from crying and desperately needing some sleep. So lesson learnt, what works for one baby wouldn’t necessarily work for another.
Believe me when I say it can get crazy. There are times when you may feel like screaming or shouting at the top of your lungs to let out all the stress, fatigue and frustration from juggling several responsibilities all at once, and sometimes you may feel like you can’t breathe and a bit grouchy. But it’s okay, go ahead and scream, shout or even cry if you want, it’s all a natural and normal part of the first-time mum experience. Even seasoned mums get overwhelmed sometimes. You are constantly learning about what works and what doesn’t as you go along day after day and minute after minute spent with your little one and there are surprises around every corner – testing and pushing you as you navigate through this amazingly awesome, challenging and sometimes clueless and complicated journey of motherhood.
But wait! Motherhood is not a death sentence, you will do just fine. No one expects you to always be happy and cheery as a mum. There is so much joy amidst all the craziness and every moment spent with your little one will mean so much to you – just allow yourself to be in the moment.
So what can you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Here are three tips :-
Establish a Routine from very early on
Having no routine is like being a headless chicken trying to navigate your way around the barn yard lol – confusion, disorder, uncertainty and panic.
Establishing and maintaining a consistent routine very early on has really helped me as a first time mum. I am calmer, more organised and less overwhelmed by my new responsibilities. I started a routine when my son was about three months old. By then, I knew enough about his sleeping and eating habits to be able to groom him into a routine. However, having a routine doesn’t always mean you’ll stick to it because the day doesn’t always go according to plan. But I think it’s better to have a routine than not having one; and to implement it as often as possible. And every now and again it’s good to change the routine up a bit and make adjustments as your baby gets older and has additional needs, and like all adults, babies have moods and as they grow they develop their own personalities and habits.
Have Some ‘Me Time’
Whenever you feel overwhelmed, it’s so important I think as a new mum to have some time to yourself, by temporarily escaping from the pressures of your ‘new normal’ life. Take some ‘ME TIME.’ Find a space or moment to relax and to be at peace with yourself. Whether that means just standing still in the middle of the living room, sitting under the stairs or just stepping outside for a few minutes. Try some meditation, make zikr, pray two rakaats or make dua, go on vacation with some friends, take a walk in the park or allow your hubby to take over for a few minutes – just do something to temporarily take your mind off your busy life and new responsibilities as a mum.
However, taking time out for yourself might evoke feelings of guilt. Guilt because you may feel like you’re denying your child time with you or you may think to yourself that you’re being a horrible and selfish mum for wanting to be away from your little one and your family. But trust me, ‘me time’ helps to keep you emotionally healthy and sane. And there is absolutely no need to feel guilty or embarrassed by whatever it is you are feeling or thinking about your new role – embrace those thoughts and feelings, confront them, confide in a close friend or your partner, tell someone at work that you trust or even talk yourself through those emotions, but warning! You might seem crazy.
Ask for Help
There is no shame in asking for help. You can ask a good friend or family members to assist you with chores around the house or ask your hubby to take over for a few hours while you catch up on some sleep, get some work done around the house or just put your feet up and be lazy.