by Alexandra Canals, psychologist specializing in family, couple and childhood issues.
We all know how beautiful motherhood and fatherhood is, how nice it is to watch our puppies grow up, but little is said about those darkest times when we reach corners of ourselves we never knew existed. . Motherhood is a turning point in our lives, a rediscovery of self.
From 2021 you can take advantage of a sick leave shared or alternated with the father, and now comes the moment expected and feared at the same time: the return to work. Finally, we women can decide the future we want for ourselves and a job that makes us feel good, full, satisfied. However, let’s face it, Spanish society does not make it easy to be a mother and have a busy professional life, at least during the early years of raising children, which coincide with our best years at work.
Going back to work is a breath of fresh air to stop being a mother all day, but it can also be an additional stressor. From then on, you have to adjust the schedules, prepare the meals, go to work without sleeping, organize the times when the little one is sick, etc. If we were to quantify the hours we spend organizing all of this, we would equate it to running a part-time business, at the very least. All that stress can lead to a lot of emotional wear and tear.
Society has made us believe that having a child does not change our life that much and this conception generates false expectations that we must then confront. Having a child is a life-changing change that changes us forever and we have to readapt. We discover many things about ourselves that surprise us: how much I can want versus the ambivalence of how crazy I can go.
For all this, we must take care of ourselves. Because to be a good mother, you must first be good yourself. Our children constantly learn from our attitudes and are our mirror.
For this reason, it is important to try to find moments to reconnect with yourself, to be able to do something that you want to do and that makes you feel good. Not losing sight of and connecting with our essence will keep us knowing who we are and working to integrate this new role into one more face of the prism we form.
If you are reading this article, surely you have already tried a thousand options to feel better, but it is worth remembering some tricks to feel good and try to get out of this false comfort zone, which does not comfort us.
Here are five points that I consider essential for self-care:
1- More time for you
Whenever we feel guilty for leaving our little one longer at daycare or with someone else, we can tell ourselves that our son or daughter deserves a happy mother. So, let’s give ourselves a few moments to get some fresh air on our faces or to get our much-needed back massage. That’s not to mention whether we can take an afternoon or a morning to do something we really want.
I like going to play sports because it gives me the air and the sun on my face, I get tired (this good tiredness that lets you float after the shower) and I generate endorphins, basic for this well-being.
2- Time out
Doing ‘times out’, that is to say being able to leave the room where our little one is crying and where we feel that we are going to explode, that we can no longer hold back tears, is a technique that is used in many situations where we cannot contain this unease or anger.
We go to another room or somewhere outside and breathe, look at where our body feels pain or anger or sadness and try to relax the whole body. Jacobson’s relaxation can be very useful to you. You can find a guide online or videos on YouTube.
3- Analyze what stresses you the most
Look between. What situations stress you out the most? How do you react ? What really bothers you about this situation?
I discovered that I have a low tolerance for crying. So, knowing this already, I activate all the resources at my disposal to be able to behave as I would like as a mother without disrespecting myself or my children.
See what kind of mother your mother was and what kind of mother are you. See what she did that you want to copy and what you don’t. Keep it in mind. Thank your mother for everything she taught you and move on. Often we reproduce family patterns and we must be aware of them and know how to break with them.
4- Reserve time as a couple
Sometimes a whole week goes by and we look at each other and think, “Wow, this week I barely felt you around.” And it is that we have organized ourselves so well as a team that we have forgotten that there is something else behind this organization.
Having a drink together when the little ones are sleeping, taking a bath together or cooking together are brief moments that continue to keep us together and not get lost on the gentle but arduous path of parenthood.
This is the last point, but not the least important. It’s easy to say “enjoy” but you have to remember that we chose to have children and that it’s our life, that no one will come to put flowers or an end to Walt Disney. So let’s try to enjoy the present moment.
- If we’re playing cars with our toddler, we’re playing cars and not trying to answer an email or watch a mobile app.
- If we work, put our whole being into work.
- If they give us a massage, let’s feel the body and how they touch us.
Being present connects us to our reality and to ourselves. Thus, we don’t get carried away with anticipatory thoughts of everything we have to do and feel this all-pervading anxiety.
We can make a calendar where we also define the moments of play with our little ones, as well as the ritual of showers and dinners. We know that we will not strictly conform to it, because having sons or daughters means becoming more flexible, but it will be a good guide for our daily lives.
I hope I have helped you remember the little things that will help you feel better and keep fighting to be better mothers and your best version because motherhood changes us for the better. You will never love again, and what is living if not loving?
Time passes and the hardest moments give way to others, not easy either, but for which we have already trained during our first years of parenthood. Look in the mirror and be proud of the woman you have become, of being able to work and be valued, and of the family you have created. Without being perfect, you can do what you set out to do and every day you are a little more perfect.