Category Archives: New Mum

‘Me’ time isn’t a myth

My clients hate it when I say this to them. When I ask them about ‘Me’ time, they look at me like I’m talking a different language or offering them something alien.

Do you remember a time when you had time for yourself? Maybe not practically but time in your mind to think, to form a sentence (something I struggle with as a mum, for sure!). And when we have some time for a break, a breather, what do we do? Rush around doing all the jobs we have to do to feel a teeny bit of satisfaction and achievement that never comes.

Let me ask you this. When you say you have ‘no time’ to take out for yourself and recharge, what are you actually saying?
There is time for work, the kids, the washing, ironing, cleaning, dusting, reorganising your sock drawer, watering the dead plants, but no time for you.
So you’re saying you come below the dead plants? That is your level of priority?

You, who holds it all together, who is CEO of the house and family. YOU.
Below the dead plants and socks?

There is no judgement here but come on!! You are so worthy and valuable but you can’t see it.  We’re taught as women to be ‘Good’ which seems to encompass looking after everyone – BUT not at the detriment of your mental and physical health. We can of course look after others, but you don’t have to do it 24/7, every second of the day. And you certainly don’t need anyone’s permission to take a break or feel guilty about it.

I’m sure many of you have heard about the plane safety procedure of putting on your own oxygen mask on before anyone else’s in case of an emergency. And how many of us panic when our phone batteries need charging and we can’t find a charger?

How can you make time for yourself though?

  • Set aside 10 minutes a day just for you. Sit and do nothing. If your mind is racing, let is race, don’t judge or react to the thoughts, let them flow past like you would if you were sitting by a river.
  • Be mindful when you do things. Instead of rushing, take your time and use all your senses; what can you hear? see? smell? feel? What are you saying to yourself? Is there anything that is so heartwarming you’d like to save to memory?
  • Set clear boundaries. If you need time, make sure others know not to disturb you. It’s ok to want privacy when you go to the bathroom you know 😉
  • Be your own best friend. You know when you are tired, so why keep pushing? Be kind to yourself and acknowledge all you’ve done, then be gentle with yourself and say what you would to a friend, ‘hey, did you want a cuppa and a five minute breather?’. It’s a start 🙂
    Why bother with all this though? Creating time for yourself will help you be clearer about your life, where you want to be and where you’re going, about YOU. It helps you feel in control, less stressed and more able to cope at what life throws at you.
    Quite a lot of value and reward for a bit of time for yourself, don’t you think?

On becoming a Mum

Many of my postnatal clients experience a huge panic when they become mothers, the pressure of parenthood overwhelming and crushing them and they respond by becoming depressed.

When we work through things, what comes to the surface is interesting; their own experiences in childhood come back and their relationships with their parents, mostly mothers, is weighing heavy on their minds.

Becoming a mother is a massive step into adulthood and many feel it is a right of passage, an initiation to finally being a grown up. But what doe this mean for their relationship with their mothers? Are they still children? Does the relationship need to be redefined as they are now Adult and Adult and not Child and Adult?

And what of mothers who clients do not feel where there for them and feel their emotional needs were not met? How can they be good mothers if they were not shown by example how it is done? But worst of all – what if they pass on the behaviours they struggle with to their children?

In these situations we look at the here and now; you are the mother now and this is your child. This is your little family and no one can come in between that. Boundaries need to be set to ensure this which can then bring up issues of self esteem and confidence about standing up for yourself.
You can choose how you parent and create your own positive habits that you can pass down to your children. You can use this time to learn how to change and live in a more authentic way, more you, true to you and your heart.

It is difficult but childhood experiences do stay with us and have played a part in forming who we are today. Again, in therapy, you can change this and learn a new way of being, learn to give your child-self what it needed, learn to let go and learn to live congruently as an Adult now.

I feel that a new situation does bring about a new identity; the old you is destroyed to some extent and many seem to feel like they have lost who they are. When things are broken, it is a good opportunity to remake it but without the parts you didn’t like. It’s a chance to start fresh, a clean slate.

And new mums, don’t forget, you don’t have to do this all in one go. You have time, perhaps think of your new identity as a mum as your child. There is lots to learn and you can’t run before you can walk (or crawl!). Baby steps, New Mum, you will get there but take it a little baby step at a time.

We are not taught how to take care or manage our mental and emotional needs but there are strategies and tools to help, which you can develop and change to suit your specific needs and way of being. And just think, as you think of new ways, what wonderful things can you pass down to your children?

And if you’re struggling, you know where I am. You’re not alone and I’m here to help <3

 

Celebrating at a one year old’s party

We were invited to a 1 year old’s party the other day and oh my!!! There were so many kids there (duh, it’s a party!)
 
Some where crying, some were crawling, some were toddlering around and some were running around screaming.
 
Oh goodness, the cuteness was lovely to see and certainly filled my heart with so much joy but the noise? the chaos? Wow!
 
You see, my kids are all grown up now so it has been a long while since I was in a situation like that and as much as I loved it (and was photographing it) it was an assault on all the senses.
 
And even though I spend most of my days with you mums feeling anxious, knackered and frazzled, it was so impressive seeing all the mums at this party.
 
They were smiling, struggling to have a full conversation, laughing, not eating a full plate of food in peace, trying to sit or stand with a group of people but having to run off for one thing or another. It was truly a sight. Beautiful, sad, funny, such a mix.
 
In a nutshell, this noisy, wonderful, chaotic, exhausting party summed up motherhood so well.
 
To all you Mums out there, WOW. You’re all doing an awesome job. Keep hanging in there and doing what you are doing because one day you will be where I am, with grown up kids and all this will be a crazy memory, like this crazy party.
And if you’re struggling, you know where I am for support <3

Bigger Picture

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Once you have created time and space to think and be, you can start looking at the bigger picture, asking yourself questions like:

What kind of person do I want my baby to see me as?
What kind of family do I want to have? (and not what society is telling me!!)
What are my dreams?
What do I want to achieve?

By managing your time, creating boundaries and getting time to yourself, you can start doing 1 thing every day, or every week to create the picture you want to reflect the life you want. This will take a long time and it is an on going practice.

As cliché as it sounds, it is all about the journey.

Connections

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One question I always ask clients before I start working with them is:

Who is in your support network?

Think about that for a moment and write them down:
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Are these people around you supporting you in the way YOU need? Studies have shown that connecting with loved ones do help you feel happier.

When a new baby comes into the household, everything changes. Even the dynamics between you and your partner will change. It is very important to be aware of these new dynamics and manage the change.

Have a think of your support network and ask yourself these questions:
Am I being listened to?
Do I feel drained or energised after seeing people from my network?
Are they respecting my boundaries?
Do I need to set some emotional boundaries? Maybe even making appointments in my diary if some are taking too much of my time?

There are a lot more questions you can ask yourself but the important thing is that you are concentrating on looking after yourself first. If you are not on top form, you might not be able to give as much as you want to your new baby.
Remember the safety messages when you are on an aeroplane? Put your own oxygen mask on first before anyone else.

You have permission to live your life YOUR way by being lovingly assertive and creating boundaries if needed.

Judgements

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When my kids were little and so many of the mums I have worked with have had this same belief:

Everyone is looking at me and thinking what a bad mother I am”

We all think it but in reality, everyone else are simply trying to cope with their own emotions and their new baby.
In reality, it is us who judge ourselves the most.

So the first step is looking at what a good mother is. Write down a few words or sentences defining what being a good mother means to you:
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Now have a look at what you have written and ask yourself these questions:
Are these my beliefs or someone else’s?
Where did I learn about motherhood from?
Does what I have learned, resonate with me or do I believe this because society says so?
Am I trusting my own instincts with my own child?

Having a look at what you have learned and what is being said to you will help you decide what kind of mum you want to be.
This is maybe the first time you are a mum and I am sure you are being given great well meaning advice from everyone you know – probably even people you pass by in the street! But just like anything else in life; YOU choose how you want to be as a mum.

How do you achieve this?
If you go at YOUR pace, create space and are self compassionate, you will learn to start hearing what your needs are and most importantly, hearing your own motherly instincts coming through.

You have full permission to trust and follow these instincts.
If you want to co-sleep, then co-sleep
If you don’t want to do the controlled crying, then don’t
If you want to take them swimming, then do

Having confidence in yourself and your instincts will make you so much happier in yourself and the cherry on top?

If you know your truth, you will not feel judged. If someone is judging you, you will soon realise it is their perception, clouded by their insecurities and NOT you.
You’ve got this.

Time for you

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In recovering from my own depression and seeing clients taking this on, has proven to me this is an essential part of maintaining good mental health. All too often we are so busy doing things for everyone else, we forget to look after ourselves. We all work so very hard all year then maybe, if you’re really lucky, you get 2 weeks a year off.
I’m going to suggest a new way of being if you’re up for it;

How about having a little ‘holiday’ every day?

Can you even imagine that? Resting when you need to, doing something fun every day, creating a life that you actually want and makes you feel amazing in yourself. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

All this can be achieved from simple time management.
Maybe you are already really organised but have you allocated time just for you? As in actually blocked out time, like a doctor’s or midwife’s appointment? An appointment for you?
If you create space to spend time just with yourself, you will be able to stop, breathe and look at the bigger picture of your life.

Are your needs being met? If not, which ones are not and what can you do about it?
Are you getting enough rest? Especially important if baby keeps waking you in the night. Also, don’t forget, we need more rest at a time of change / transition as we are learning new things and our brains are working harder as you think about new things and take them on.
Are you playing enough? Are you doing things that keep you, YOU? What fun things can you do, by yourself and with baby (then maybe with other loved ones)

Use a diary and block time out when you need or want to do things.
If you get overwhelmed at the amount of things you have in one day; spread it out over the week. Still overwhelmed, spread it over the month. Ideally, just have one ‘thing’ to do a day and you can build on it. Remember not to beat yourself up if you achieve nothing. Self compassion, remember!

You will not forget appointments this way, you will take away that feeling of not having enough time, of not having enough hours in the day. Instead, this will help you feel calmer and actually show you how much you are coping with and managing.

By managing your time, YOU can create the life you want. YOU book in what you need, YOU can say no to things that do not serve you.
YOU are in charge of your thoughts and feelings, your actions, your appointments. Your appointments in  your diary will show you what you are giving time to, what you are seeing as a priority and stop the feelings of overwhelm, anxiety and get rid of that ‘I don’t have the time!!’ feeling.

Self Compassion

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Self compassion
I am going to make the assumption that you are the kind of person that is probably very hard on yourself, right?
You get annoyed and frustrated, maybe even out right angry, at yourself if you don’t do things right or if you keep getting things wrong.
Going one step further, I bet you tell yourself off lots too using the following type of language;

“You’re so stupid! You should have known better!!”
“Look at all the jobs you haven’t done!”
“You’re so useless sometimes”
“You don’t deserve ______________” (fill in the blank)

Write down 5 things you say to yourself that you would NEVER EVER dream of saying to someone else:
__________________________________________________________________________2.__________________________________________________________________________3.__________________________________________________________________________4.__________________________________________________________________________5.__________________________________________________________________________

How do you feel having written these down? What reaction do you think you would get from, for example, your best friend if you said the above things to them?

Spend a few minutes jotting down a few words here:
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If your Self talk is as bad I think it might be and what you have said to yourself, you would never say to anyone else, I want to ask you,

“Why is it ok to talk to yourself like this?”

Self compassion is the one, most important wellbeing practice that few of us do. What we tell our minds, we believe. Our words turn into scripts and these stories determine what our lives become.

In our everyday lives, there will always be people who are quick to judge us, tell us off, criticise us, block us, hinder us, hurt us, damage us and so on. So what do we do? We join in with them! We’re not even on our own side, we don’t even support ourselves. If anything, we are harsher to ourselves than anyone else is.

THIS CHANGES NOW!

You now have a little person in your life now who will change absolutely everything. You have a new identity now and I bet you, your life will not be the same again.

What we forget is that change takes time.
When you started school, you had to learn to be away from home, learn to be in a classroom, learn to learn, learn to be with other children etc.
When you started driving, you took lessons, had practice drives, did a test and still you continue to learn.
Maybe when you started a new job, you had an induction, settle in time, things were explained to you, your manager guided you, maybe you had a team to support your work, maybe you were given a desk etc.

Think of a time of change in your life that you have gone through.
Was it difficult at the time?
How did you get through it?
How did you cope?

Having a baby and embracing your new identity as Mum is the same and self compassion will be your best tool to start with.
Self compassion simply put is being nice to yourself, supporting yourself, being kind and caring towards yourself.

So next time you start the negative self talk, think how you would talk to your best friend, your partner – or your new baby.

After all, you wouldn’t tell your new baby off for not running a marathon right now would you?

Take the time you need, the space you need and give yourself the care and kindness you need during this time of change.

It’s nightlife, but not as you know it

When I did the night shifts at Samaritans, it used to take me days to get back into to a good routine.

When I get disturbed at night now, I’m useless the next day!

It got me wondering how on earth did I manage with a baby and a toddler?!?! Those nights when one was sick and the other would wake. Or just get used to having a baby in the first place needing a feed every 5 mins (felt like it anyway!)

This is something we don’t seem to appreciate as new mums, as partners, as families or as a society to some extent.

We’re still expected to carry on as normal and do ALL that we did before, forgetting that simply having a baby is much more, perhaps more than everything we’d done before.

Working 24/7, non stop, very few breaks, hardly having time to even have a hot shower, hot meal or even a hot drink. And going to the loo in peace becomes a distant memory.

So you lovely mums, please don’t forget that even though it feels you’re not doing much, not managing all those tasks that were part of your unthinking routine, you ARE doing LOADS!

You’re learning a new job, a new routine, juggling new dynamics with conflicting advice, judgements and self doubt.

And looking back now with my babies 18 and 16 I find myself remembering those silent nights feeding them, when it was just us, when those heart melting smiles when they were happy to see me, when I felt pure love and gratitude.

So whatever you’re going through now, it will not last. And, luckily all those nights when we were both crying, when I felt lost and alone, like a failure, frustrated and angry…and those negative feelings seem to be dissolving, leaving snippets of beautiful memories.

You’re doing great and are just where you need to be, in THIS MOMENT in time. <3

Thank you for all the work you are doing xx

To you, Mum

To the mom hiding in her bathroom, needing peace for just one minute, as the tears roll down her cheeks..

To the mom who is so tired she feel likes she can’t function anymore and would do anything to lay down and get the rest she needs…

To the mom sitting in her car, alone, stuffing food in her face because she doesn’t want anyone else to see or know she eats that stuff…

To the mom crying on the couch after she yelled at her kids for something little and is now feeling guilty and like she is unworthy…

To the mom that is trying desperately to put those old jeans on because all she really wants is to look in the mirror and feel good about herself…

To the mom that doesn’t want to leave the house because life is just too much to handle right now…

To the mom that is calling out for pizza again because dinner just didn’t happen the way she wanted it to…

To the mom that feels alone, whether in a room by herself or standing in a crowd…

You are enough.

You are important.

You are worthy.

This is a phase of life for us. This is a really really hard, challenging, crazy phase of life.

In the end it will all be worth it. But for now it’s hard. And it’s hard for so many of us in many different ways. We don’t always talk about it, but it’s hard and it’s not just you.

You are enough.

You are doing your best.

Those little eyes that look up at you – they think you are perfect. They think you are more than enough.

Those little hands that reach out to hold you – they think you are the strongest. They think you can conquer the world.

Those little mouths eating the food you gave them – they think that you are the best because their bellies are full.

Those little hearts that reach out to touch yours – they don’t want anything more. They just want you.

Because you are enough. You are more than enough, mama.

You. Are. Amazing. 💙💚

– Anonymous –

Going up a rung

The hardest thing about becoming a mother is the realisation that you have gone up a rung.
What do I mean by that?

Well, we are children first with parents and perhaps grandparents. Then grandparents start to die and we start to have children…so we are now the parents and our parents are the grandparents.

For some of us, this new identity can be quite overwhelming, especially if we start to care for our parents. There is such a mix of emotions and we need to process. Suddenly, we can find ourselves in the middle of everything and everyone, supporting those around us whilst also working and keeping the house.

No wonder we disappear and lose our identity!

We are not children anymore and have this huge responsibility looking after another person
We are not parents yet as we are just starting out and learning
We have to learn to cope with seeing our parents getting older and their mortality coming to the foreground
We become parents to our parents which is very strange and takes a while to get used to
We are still children within but we don’t play anymore because we are drowning with all our new obligations
We try and keep everyone happy
We try and do everything, perhaps the job of 3 or more people
We don’t take time out for ourselves
We are exhausted
We are not who we used to be…

That’s a lot for one person. A hell of a lot.

Be kind to yourself and take it a step at a time. Thank you for looking after everyone else, please make time to look after yourself too x

 

Mind pregnancy

I’ve been toying with this idea for a while and feel it is worth sharing to see what you think.

The body is put under a lot of pressure when pregnant to a point where you find it difficult to walk, can’t bend over…you know the drill ladies! Then there comes a time when baby has to be born because your body can not take it.

Stating the obvious, it doesn’t stop there though does it. Birth is just the beginning and I believe you stay pregnant until the kids leave home. Maybe.

You see, my daughter has gone to University and I am realising how much of my headspace she actually has been taking up. I know once you become a mum, that you stay one for the rest of your life but I have been thinking about ’empty nesters’.

Why is it so difficult when you have a baby, then it’s difficult when they leave home. It’s because you’re still pregnant, but in the mind. Just as a baby takes up space in your belly as it grows, a child takes up headspace and sometimes the ending is not as obvious and eventful as giving birth.

So even when your baby is born, you are still pregnant. The energy used up in physical pregnancy simply moves more to mental and emotional pregnancy. So, as in physical pregnancy, you still need to look after yourself, rest but at the same time also learn how to care for your new baby.

And with each year that goes by, as your baby grows and learns to stand on their own – physically, emotionally and mentally, you eventually have a mind labour and birth.

What do you think?

 

Admitting how you feel

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The first step to any change is awareness. If you don’t know that something is happening in you, then how do you know where to start?

If you are aware that you have postnatal depression, that is the first step. Then comes the most difficult step – admitting it to yourself!

For many of us once we realise we have depression, it can take a while to admit it to ourselves. Admitting it means we are telling the world we are not coping, we have failed, we are not good enough – right?

Not at all! Admitting you have depression is realising that your whole world has changed and that you need support. You haven’t failed and you are good enough.

We get training in everything else we do. What training have you had as a mother? And why is it assumed you will know what to do?

Depression is a signal to yourself that something needs to change somewhere, so by admitting it to yourself, and others, you can then start to receive the correct support you need and hopefully start on the road to recovery.

We don’t hesitate to seek help for cancer or diabetes – depression is no different. You have been through so much with the pregnancy, birth and dealing with a new baby. It is all a lot to take on and process and how are you meant to know how to do it if you’ve never been shown?