I don’t really remember much from the first few weeks home as a new mom. The best way to describe it was like riding a rollercoaster. There were highs, lows...and days that felt like a blur. Part of the fun of riding a rollercoaster is having someone next to you to scream, laugh and throw your hands in the air with. I remember wishing I had others to lean on during the process and looking back, I was forgetting to ask.
It’s funny that motherhood is the only job that anyone can do without experience. Somehow, we all just figure it out. I survived that phase (you will, too!), but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the process. Especially when you don’t have others to learn from and lean on.
I wish I could whisper into that tired mom’s ear in that newborn stage and say...
It’s okay to ask for help.
I am guessing whomever said the famous words, “it takes a village” was a mom.
After a quick Google search, I found that the phrase originated from the Nigerian Igbo culture and proverb 'Oran a azu nwa', which means it takes a community or village to raise a child. It makes SO much sense. We are not meant to raise these sweet babies on our own.
It took me longer than I care to admit to figure that out for myself.
It does take a village and it takes you, as the mom, being okay with finding who your tribe is that can help. Your tribe might be your partner, friends you’ve had for years or friends you’ve just met. Your tribe might be family members, whether close or extended. It might be people you meet in a mom group online or music class with your baby in your lap. And when all else fails, your tribe might be waiting for you in the checkout line of Target (promise, it’s where all the moms go in the daytime.) Your tribe also might be a caretaker you hire or a company you outsource to.
It doesn’t matter where you find help, as long as you have it. The point is you have to find your people that will be there for you.
A few tips for asking for finding help
Find a friend that will hold the baby while you get a break.
Those first few weeks with a newborn, the floodgates will open with visitors streaming in your home to meet the baby. And slowly, the visitors will fade. And that is when you are left at home all day without a shower or fresh meal in sight. While I loved having friends and family visit us, I wish I had better maximized that time. I wish instead of asking them to bring me a coffee during their visit to ooh and aah at my newborn, that I had them come over so that I could get a break. Heck, even I could have left to get coffee on my own! I promise, a little fresh air (even just for 20-minutes) is good for a mother’s soul.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when people want to visit your baby.
Get clear on what you need from your partner and set a schedule.
It’s okay to ask your partner for help and you should talk about what you need. It could be a small task, like taking over bath time so you can relax. It could be switching off on nighttime feedings. It doesn’t matter what you decide, but it’s about creating a plan that works for your family and being okay with not doing it all just because you are the mom.
You may find that your partner really enjoys that extra bonding time!
Find your mom tribe that have kids that are similar ages.
Connecting with other moms with kids the same age as mine has made a huge impact on my motherhood journey. Find your mom tribe through postpartum support groups at your hospital, churches, social media groups or even sign-up for a music class or swimming lessons. Surround yourself with other moms that get it and will be there to support you. Asking for help is more than taking a task off your to-do list, it’s having a tribe that can answer your questions and not judge you. It’s having people to get out of the house with. It’s having other moms to have fun with and swap stories with you during the sometimes challenging (but comical) journey!
Outsource, delegate or do what you can to take “easy” things off your plate to someone that would enjoy it more than you.
What are the things constantly getting pushed off your to-do list? What feels impossible to get done? Consider outsourcing, delegating or finding someone to help you with these tasks whether it’s once a year, month or day! Ask your neighbors with responsible teenagers if they want to help for an hour or two, outsource a task like grocery shopping (hello, there is an app for that now!) or see if a family member could help. Weigh the cost and what the extra time could give back to you. Even if it’s a nap you need. A nap is always worth it!
Set a self-care date for yourself and stick to it
I’ve found it’s best to ask for help when you have a reason to need it. Set a date for yourself and stick to it. Find someone that wouldn’t mind coming over for an hour or switch off with another mom friend. It doesn’t matter what you do, it’s just important that you do it. If you have nothing to do, find something you would enjoy! Sign-up for a workout or take that pottery class you’ve always dreamed of. You were someone before you became a mom and that person deserves a little love, too.
The point is, it takes help to raise a child and in order to receive help you must be willing to ask for it. Start asking and you might be surprised that your tribe is here for you. You deserve it!
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