YOUR HAPPY HEALTHY MAMA GUIDE
You are not alone.
Creating a greater support system that fits YOU
Read below or download step 5 here.
Do you need to have more fun?
For many women, when they have been either trying to get pregnant for a while, have had a first trimester (or longer) of morning sickness, or have become moms, life can suddenly become very serious and isolated.
And let me be real, in many ways it is more serious. Suddenly you are responsible for another human being, you are making decisions about vaccinations, medical providers, potential food allergies, who to trust your child with, and how to manage doing ALL the things a mom or soon to mom does.
Trust me, mama, I KNOW it IS a LOT.
But, here is something I want you to know:
when you are doing all of this alone, it feels like a whole lot more than it has to be. The difference between moms I've met who could handle these things quiet well (with occasional hiccups of course!!) are the ones who had a great support system that they actually USED.
On the other hand, the moms who were the most exhausted, both physically and emotionally, and reported feeling the most lonely and anxious, were the ones who either didn't have a good support system, didn't take advantage of it, or had the wrong kind of community.
What's an example of a wrong kind of support system?
When an introverted woman thinks she has to join huge mommy groups where other women chit chat non-stop and give each other tons of advice, she will inevitably leave less energized and even more depleted than she came. Conversely, if an extroverted mom doesn't experience enough stimulation and direct human contact, she can feel lonely and isolated quickly.
That's why it is so important to create a support system that fits YOU.
Personally, I need a good amount of time to myself to recharge. While I can be very social, my core is an introvert and so when I am low in energy, I need time to myself, so I can hear my thoughts and feel my feelings.
Creating a network of support for me therefore means, getting the help from people who love my son, so that I can have a few hours per week to just be with ME.
It also means planning smaller playdates with moms who are compatible with my energy and my parenthood philosophy and who like spending time outside, because that re-charges my batteries.
On a different note, I also hate cleaning the house (so does my husband, but don't tell him I told you ;)) and so we looked at our finances for how we can cut back in some areas so that we can get cleaning help once a month. I felt serious relief from that simple act.
My point is this: you need to figure out what kind of support system is right for you and you need to stop looking at or listening to what's right for other mamas. Let them do their thing (including how they raise their kid, put their baby to sleep, or cook their meals) and you gotta do your thing.
Let' s make a commitment to honoring: YOUR AUTHENTICITY, YOUR VALUES, YOUR INTUITION!
It’ s not that any community itself is so important, but what is key in a happy, healthy life is fostering a sense of belonging.
Creating a sense of belonging will not only make you happier and help you navigate challenges more successfully, it will also make you healthier.
A Stanford study by social psychologist Gregory Walton found that: “Isolation, loneliness and low social status can harm a person's subjective sense of well-being, as well as his or her intellectual achievement, immune function and health.”
In more traditional cultures, child-rearing was a community task.
It wasn’t one woman for herself. It was a whole village who took care of the mothers and the babies.
In today's “modern” society, conception struggles, pregnancy, and child-rearing has often become a very isolated experience and studies show that isolation and feeling lonely is deeply connected to a loss of self-confidence, infertility, postpartum depression and anxiety.
Do you need to make new friends?
Yes and no.
Of course, the friends you previously had will stay your friends.
Trust me, all of them who do not have babies will love your baby to pieces and they will try to be there for you as best as they can, but they just don ’t get it unless they've been there flesh and soul themselves.
I am immensely grateful for having my "old" friends, getting wonderful mentors who helped me prepare for a healthy pregnancy, for the women I met in my prenatal yoga classes who became dear friends, and the community of new mamas with babies around the same age as my son after I had given birth.
These women became my saving grace in times when I felt confused, overwhelmed and tired.
We comforted each other and we helped each other laugh about things like sore breasts, messy homes, and sleepless nights.
Having a community of other women and moms who understand what you are going through, who are there when you need to cry, vent or get advice (or all three at the same time) is so crucial. And trust me, you will be closer to these women than to most people in your life. So my challenge for you in this final chapter is simple...
My challenge for you
1. How can you meet women who are going through similar stages as yourself and initiate a community or friendship?
2. What kind of help and support do you need around your house, at your job, with your kids, etc... in order to feel like yourself and establish a sense of fun, freedom, and ease in your life now? *
Not sure where to start?
Here are some ideas and tips for how to get started on making mom friends:
- Use your existing community: Ask your friends to connect you with like-minded women and/or families who are trying to conceive, are going through IVF, are pregnant, or recently (or not so recently if you have an older baby/ toddler) had a baby.
- If you are having trouble conceiving, ask your doctor for a support group in your area.
- Visit a prenatal or postnatal exercise class (ex. Yoga or pilates, park or stroller workouts)
- Join a new mama group around a topic of your interest (breastfeeding, cloth-diapering… see what your community offers)
- Strike up conversation with moms at the playground (I bet you most moms would be so happy to have another friend)
- Make friends at your kids play or music groups
Other things you might want to get help with:
- hire a cleaning service (even if it' s just once a month)
- hire a personal trainer or sign up for pilates/ yoga studios or a gym that offers childcare while you get some exercise
- if you're in postpartum pain or had a c-section, see a pelvic PT
- get a babysitter to come at least 2 hours per week so you can do YOU
-sign up for instacart to get your groceries delivered or order from a healthy food delivery service a few times a week
-hire a coach to help you navigate the bigger transitions in your life, find your new direction, or work on any of the things I discussed in this guide
- get massages (even the chair massages at the salon counts)
- come up with a schedule with your hubby for when you and him get time together alone AND when you just get time by yourselves as individuals
- find mom or family friends who want to trade watching the kids while you each get to go work out
- If you're working, talk to your boss and see if you can shift your hours around to make them more family friendly
- Check your employer's policies around getting childcare support