I’m excited to share this post as part of a new partnership with Disney Baby, where I’m going to have a chance to write a lot more posts geared toward expectant and new mothers. Check out the end of the post for more details!
Last year I was asked to create a video for an online parenting seminar on this topic: how can you be a happier new mom?
It’s hard to break a big topic like that down into a short video. After all, how happy a mom feels during the months after having a new baby can depend on many factors: her baby’s health and disposition, her personality, her health and recovery, even her hormone levels.
But I realized that when I tried to boil it down to the general things that have made the biggest difference during those early months after having each of my five kids, three oh-so-important factors came up again and again. I call them “The 3 S’s”:
I know you’ve already heard this, but I really can’t emphasize enough how vitally important sleep is, especially to a new mother. Lack of sleep literally changes your brain chemistry and can make it so much more difficult to deal with the normal ups and downs of new motherhood.
I know that “sleep when the baby sleeps” is tired advice, and it’s not always easy to pass the baby off and take a nap. But I also think that many of us give up too easily on our very real, very urgent need for adequate rest. We hear that the early years of parenting are a state of perpetual zombie-ness, internalize that message, and accept that moms just don’t sleep. At what cost to our health, happiness and experience of motherhood?
I’m not suggesting you’ll be going back to 10 uninterrupted hours of shut-eye any time soon, but I think sleep is important enough to fight for. Here are some suggestions from my personal experience:
You guys know how I feel about showers, right? You need them. No, I’m not some kind of dictator insisting that moms should do their hair and dress to the nines every single day (I certainly don’t.) Sure, some days I decide that I can go about my business more easily if I just skip the shower and put on a pair of yoga pants.
But in general, I think showers are symbolic of self-care, and when we regularly go without, it’s often because we’re buying into the cultural message that motherhood is so all-consuming and chaotic that there’s no time to breathe, and that playing with our kids or doing the dishes is way more important than us taking a few minutes to get cleaned up.
I insist: even when you have a newborn (maybe especially when you have a newborn!) you do have time to take a shower. I even gave my detailed routine for a three-minute shower in that post!
One of my secrets to happier motherhood is: Find Your Tribe. Motherhood is so much more difficult without support, and so much better and more fun when you’ve got friends or family who can help you out, offer been-there-done-that feedback, or just share in the boredom of a long rainy afternoon.
Another “easier said than done” piece of advice, though. Here are some posts I’ve written on this topic:
I offered more thoughts and suggestions on each of the “3 S’s” in my video (below) if you’d like to give it a watch!
Please share this post or video with a pregnant woman or new mom you know! After all, the earlier she tackles these important happy-mom strategies, the more she’ll be able to enjoy her baby…and her journey through motherhood.