When I first became a mama, there was a good 5-6-month period, where I couldn’t for the life of me, wrap my head around slowing down. It wasn’t just about being physically and energetically unable. It was about having to redirect the attention normally put towards my business and myself, to my infant son. It’s not that I hadn’t been prepared to be a mom. I read the books and googled my life away for 9-months. I had wanted a baby for God’s sake! Nonetheless, all of that couldn’t have prepared me for the reality that a child would not fit into my plans, my lifestyle or my agenda.
After a year of adjusting and learning to let go, I feel freer and more successful than I have since before my son was born. The funny thing about this success is, it’s still a 80/20 ratio- where my son’s needs and desires are the winning 80% and mine are obviously the latter. It’s been a wrestling match with pre-baby and post-baby me, but I’ve learned to cherish the slow down and I even enjoy it.
If you’re struggling with the slow-down of mama-hood, keep reading. Below are three mental modifications and tricks I’ve learned that have helped along the way as I raise my son.
- Embrace ‘phases’ and understand that nothing is forever.
A necessary modification to my mind frame after having a baby was shifting my ‘now or never’ attitude to an ‘it can happen later’ attitude. During the first year of motherhood, I was unable to pick up as much work as I had done the year before. Rather than understanding this as a phase of ‘slow down’, I saw it instead as my business failing and blamed being a mom. I was worried and angry. Now, I look at it from a long-term point of view and remind myself that everything happens in seasons. At some point as both you and your baby grow, your phases will change to work better for your current life situation. Now that my son is over a year old, I know that I’ll be able to gradually get back into the ‘building phase’. I see now that adopting a ‘nothing is forever’ mind frame would have lessened the unnecessary guilt and grief. Give yourself enough compassion to call out each phase that you’re in and know that your phases are not forever.
- Try to find a community, work and hobbies that support your new lifestyle as a mom, but also allow for various versions of yourself.
Going back into the world as a mom can be daunting. For some, the work world is not as pro-mom as it should be. You’re showing up to this world as multiple versions of yourself. You are a mom, a professional, a colleague, a mentor, a friend, a boss, etc. Being able to step into each of the roles separately is a skill and requires boundaries. However, as many working moms will attest, the role of mother is a harder one to separate completely than the rest. Finding clients, workplaces and communities that are flexible and understanding of your multiple roles, creates a safer and more authentic life. A few examples of combining roles are; finding gyms with in-facility babysitting programs. Finding workplace options that promote flex schedules and going to local breweries and vineyards with kid friendly accommodations.
- Accept Defeat and do ‘the new’ you, just as great as you did ‘the old’ you.
Finally and probably most importantly, just admit sweet defeat. You birthed a very incapable and incredible little human. Part of the gift of motherhood is that you get to be responsible for this baby’s sense of love and development through your attention and time. When you realize this, the game changes. I recognized how blessed I was that I had been able to conceive my little man and birth a healthy little boy. As I settled into the new me, defeat morphed into appreciation. Try to take the pressure off of yourself as best you know how and enjoy your small wins and little bits of progress. You’ll be surprised at how successful this new version of you can be.