As a new mom on maternity leave, I am learning that time is irrelevant. Days are merging, my days sometimes feel like mere hours of weeks, and my weeks feel like they consist of anywhere from 3 days to 10 days.
I felt like yesterday I was working 8 hours a days, heavily pregnant in the blistering sun while I chased a pair of 5 year olds around, bargaining with them, trying to bribe them into spending the heat wave indoors. Then I decided to blink and I was at home, waiting for my daughter to arrive.
The time between working and being a mom lasted forever. It was a month but it honestly felt like 3 or 4. Our summer here in Toronto was heat wave after heat wave. 8 months pregnant, getting clothes on to go out for a walk seemed like too much of a task so I spent the majority of my days indoors, telling myself I would do something but procrastinating the days way binge watching shows on Netflix.
“After this episode I am going to…” was how I started all my sentences in those days… I never kept those little promises I told myself then. Nothing ever came after that episode except maybe another episode… and another…. and another.
I was due on September 20th and my beautiful daughter was born on the 21st of September after an induction. There was no fear when I went into delivery, nothing but anxious anticipation and the constant praying that it would all be over so I could have my little girl in my arms.
The first month of being a mom was a complete blur. It was a war zone of feedings, changings and getting sleep whenever you could. I was sleepwalking through it all. There, but everything oddly seemed as though it could be a dream. I was never 100% sure it wasn’t.
Somehow, my daughter is over 4 months old now.
I woke up this morning and just stared at her. She looked massive beside me on the bed, as though she could easily be 9 months old and I had just slept through it all. I looked at her, and she looked at me and we just smiled at one another all the while thinking “Where has all this time gone? What day is it? What month?”
19 weeks and 4 days old.
Time, for a new mom on maternity leave is completely irrelevant.
You have nowhere to be, your baby doesn’t really have much of a schedule so you are just rolling with the punches. One day, she may sleep in until noon and you tell yourself you are going to get up early to get things done, but honestly, you sleep in too. Because you are exhausted. Parenting is exhausting.
You take sleep where you can get it, some days you don’t change your clothes and live in what you slept in or your underwear, you don’t even brush your teeth until after 2:00 in the afternoon. I have days where I don’t even remember to eat. I will look up a the clock and ask myself if I have eaten that day.
I think this lack of schedule is common for mommies who have their babies moving into winter. Walks are restricted due to the weather, most days are too wet, too cold, too muddy, or just too much of a task to go out. So you spend the days indoors doing the same things over and over again to keep your baby entertained.
So what do you do?
Pick a day of the week, every week where you go out. Typically this day for me is Saturdays. Saturday’s I go to my mothers for dinner, but I typically spend the whole day there. It’s a good opportunity for me to hand my daughter around a full household, and I can usually catch a heavy nap which is so rare for me.
It’s such a small thing, but when you wake up, get into a routine much like you had when you were going to work. Get up, get dressed, maybe put on a little makeup and run a comb through your hair.
Because it will make you more likely to head out for the day, even if just for small walks, or to run errands. When you are already ready, you’ll be asking yourself “Why not?” If the opportunity to go out comes up.
In this day and age, it is so easy to go days, even weeks without actually speaking to someone. You have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat. All these things that make it so easy to make yourself feel as though you are talking with people, having these conversations and keeping yourself social.
Guys, I am sorry, but this is all an illusions and it really isn’t enough.
Reach out, text a friend, call someone. It will keep you from feeling lonely and it will also keep your friends at arms reach and open to meeting up with you on those days you feel like you just have to get out of the house and socialize for your sanity.
Do something for yourself.
This is a big one. In the beginning, I was using all my free time when my daughter was napping to do things around the house. I was cooking, or cleaning, or trying to catch up on sleep. It as this endless cycle of giving and I wasn’t getting anything for myself.
It’s okay to do something for yourself, in all honesty, it is better for everyone, including your baby if you do.
Go to the gym, take a long showers, or soak in a hot bath. Curl up and read a good book. Make something. Play some video games.
Find something that makes you happy and you want to do. Something you look forward to, and do it. New parents neglect so much, they neglect their mental health, they neglect their hygiene, they neglect their relationships, their friendships. We bargain away everything that is for ourselves and trade it for things for our babies.
Parents, we can’t do this all the time. We are burning the candles and both ends and before long, there will be nothing left. We can’t be good parents , hell, we can’t be good people when we are trying to do it with nothing left.
Guilt is such a big thing, and we have to stop listening to what other people are telling us we should be doing and just do what we need to do for us.
“Society expects parents to work like they don’t have kids, and raise their kids like they don’t work.”
Living your life this way is enough to always make you feel like a failure and like complete crap. Well, the solution is simple. Just don’t do it. Don’t listen to those people, ignore those judgmental glares. Your happiness is the most important thing to your children because they will benefit from it more than they would anything else. You can love your child better when you are happy.
We are somewhere in February and I am trying my best to work on myself. I am trying to figure out what makes me happy and do that more. Honestly, I don’t even remember what makes me happy anymore.
In this world where the cost of everything is constantly climbing and what we earn climbs substantially slower that costs are rising, we fall into this routine of just doing what we have to so we can afford to be happy later. I think along the way, we all forget what actually makes us happy.
I’ve forgotten. My happiness had become as irrelevant as time some ways ago. I couldn’t tell you when even if I wanted to.
Parenting is anything but simple. We are stumbling around trying to do our best, and along the way, I think we forget that we are still people. Not just parents, but people.
I’m constantly flustered and my mind is complete mush, I can barely remember the date or where I need to be, so remembering I am a person with needs is impossible some days.
If you are like me, just know, you are not alone. Reach out, find someone who is in this situations and weather the storm together. You’ll be more likely to find your way out of it, if you aren’t going at it alone.