By: Cristina Trette
I was speaking with a colleague the other day about becoming a mother. She is 25 years old and pregnant with her first child. She wanted some parenting tips. I was tempted to hand her my Joy of Parenting Parent Handbook, suggest she read it, then come to me with any questions! Yet, I took it upon myself to explore her question fully. After reflecting on what I wish I had known when I was a brand new mother, I came up with just two insights that I want to share with mothers:
1. I wish I had kept dating my husband
Yes, we were busy. Yes, every ounce of energy went into ensuring that our baby was surviving and thriving. However, we absolutely could have carved out time for each other. If I could go back in time, I would have set up weekly dates with my husband to go dance, hit the movies, or simply enjoy each other without the distractions of children. I used to think that being a "good mom" meant that I put my kids first. Now, I know that family structure can get out of alignment when parents do not devote time and energy to their love relationship and partnership. Dates make it more likely that parents will work as a team, communicate effectively, solve problems, and work through conflict more peacefully. Really, there should be no excuses! Call up the grandparents, find a sitter, or set up a weekly childcare swap with friends (no cost!) and prioritize your marriage and partnership now!
2. I wish I had spent more time taking care of myself
Whether you want to call it self-care or alone time taking time to care for your own physical and psychological well-being is vital. In the early years of parenting I neglected myself. I was not eating well, not sleeping well, and I very rarely took the time to enjoy myself away from my kids. In fact, when I took my first parenting class, I remember rejecting the notion that self-care was even important. After all, I was proud of the fact that I was able to put my child's needs before my own. After years of this, however, it caught up with me. Eventually I became very overwhelmed and all my relationships suffered because my life was out of balance. Now, I make it a priority to take care of me first and I dropped the guilt. I do this in many ways such as eating well, exercising, practicing mindfulness, going on dates, taking interesting courses, and going out and having fun with friends. I promise you that the time you spend caring for yourself will make it more likely that every other aspect of your life will improve. If you are not taking time for self-care, I encourage you to figure out a way to schedule it in right away!
What do you wish you had known when you were a new mom? I would love to hear your pearls of wisdom that we can add to this list! Please leave your comments in the box below!
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