The long months of pregnancy give you plenty of time to prepare for motherhood, right?
You know what’s coming; sleepless nights, toxic nappies, rounds and rounds of bottles and unimaginable love that makes it all worthwhile.
But that’s not all that’s coming – motherhood comes with a heavy load!
My Two AM Companion
Another companion arrives with your newborn. This companion comes to stay whenever it likes and is very hard to evict. It is the Whisperer.
It whispers in your ear constantly; tales of woe, worst case scenarios, dreadful doubts. It screams insecurities at you, second-guesses all of your decisions, undermines you when you thought you had everything under control and reminds you every terrible child-related news flash you’ve ever seen.
I think of the Whisperer as my 2AM Companion, because that’s when he seems to be loudest.
“How did you sleep?” Fred usually asks as I doze into my breakfast, “Yeah, great!” I usually lie because I don’t want to admit that I spent half the night googling the nutritional content of our baby’s meals or researching the best shoes to provide ankle support because the Whisperer is wondering if Alfie’s feet were turning in a little too much?
The confident person I used to be is still there – just not in the realm of motherhood. I’ve spoken before about how a baby’s birth heralds the birth of a mother as well (more on that here; A Reminder), and I still feel a little bit like my personality is split in two. The ‘before’ me who wants to see the world, save the whales and one day star in a Broadway Musical, and the ‘after’ me who can deal with an explosive nappy using just two wipes and assemble flat pack furniture with a baby on her hip while cooking 32 portions of multi-veg pasta sauce for the freezer (that was a good day!)
Both of these people exist, sometimes in tandem, sometimes one disappears for a while. The Whisperer doesn’t like either of them.
Is there anything that can be done to silence the Whisperer? Of course! You could delegate, but then you’d only be worrying that someone else was making worse mistakes then you and feeling guilty for not doing it all. You could take a bath but the water would eventually get cold
Below are three simple to action strategies that I have found (with consistent use) to greatly reduce the mother load. They rely on a change in mindset which is much more lasting than a facial!
1. Know what you need and stop apologising for it
I feel tremendous guilt being a SAHM, when Fred comes in from work he’s delighted to spend time with Alfie but I still feel like I should do the parenting work so he can do the fun parenting bits. I’ll make the dinner, run the bath, lay out the jammies, make sure the sheets are turned back, prep a bottle, oh and hover over them both anxiously. If I’m not doing these things because I need 5 minutes when no one is relying on me for their survival then I’m apologising endlessly – which is absurd.
New resolution; no apologising for things that keep you sane
2. Limit decisions
I’m not sure how many decisions a mother makes in a day but I’m confident its in the region of 294,023,621. (I can’t say that number out loud!) Getting rid of unimportant decisions is an enormous relief; it doesn’t matter what Alfie wears he’s adorable anyway! I find I’m less likely to second guess my decisions when they’ve been made in advance. I’ve started planning meals in advance, following a vague daily timetable for trips/play time and assuring myself that done is better than perfect. I found this article really helpful.
New resolution; plan ahead and then move on
3. Write it down
Fred bought me a notebook for our second wedding anniversary. I use it in two ways; I write down all the things I’m grateful for in a day and I write down all the silly things the whisperer suggests. It helps because once I get a moment of clarity I can look back at both lists, relish one, laugh at the other and then destroy it!!!!
New resolution; Write it down and either relish it or rip it up!