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Motherhood: What You Give Up and How to Adjust

When your child enters this world, you experience a new kind of love and joy. A forever bond between you and your little one is born.

For some women, their journey to motherhood is complex and full of struggles. So eventually, being called a mom means even more despite the obstacles it took to get there. While adding to your family and taking on a new role as a mom is a wondrous thing, it also asks a lot of individuals. The most important thing to remember as a new mom is that you’re not alone in making these adjustments. We see you, and we know what you’re going through. As a newborn mother, these are some of the things you may have given up along the way:

Time 

Long gone are the days when you felt that you had all the time. Now, twenty-four hours doesn’t seem like enough time to do everything you need. Your free time is well, not free anymore. Instead of catching up on your favorite tv show, sitting back with a book, or chatting with a friend, you’re changing your baby’s diaper, feeding them, putting them down for their nap, bathing them, or taking them to the doctor. Your personal time filled with hobbies like shopping, getting your nails done, or going for a run around the block is limited now. If you want to do these things, you must call a babysitter or take your baby with you. And then, you have to make sure you have everything your baby needs: extra layers, sunscreen, snacks, and a toy. 

Your social time with friends and family is now on your baby’s terms. You can go for a walk in a park with everyone, but you have to make sure the timing does not interfere with nap time or lunch. And then there is all the time it takes to pack the car with the stroller and their baby bag, and do not forget about the car seat! While there are moments in the day where you can catch your breath, you’re most likely using that duration to do something baby-related. And since most of your time is with your baby or interrupted by their cries, intimacy with your partner can be scarce. The two of you can’t enjoy each other’s presence in the same way you could before. 

The most important thing to remind yourself during the newborn phase is that this time is temporary. It will not always be so hectic. As your baby grows, your routine will change and you will have more time to yourself. You will also get better at prioritizing your hours. But right now, your blocks of time are sparse and we understand that this is difficult.

We suggest scheduling a time once a month that is your “Me Day” where you can focus on self-care and catch up on things you’ve missed like seeing friends. Another great resource is a babysitter! Ask them to watch your baby while you and your partner enjoy a date night. It’s ok to ask for help from your family as well as friends. You want to settle into a routine so that you’re getting all of your tasks done and giving yourself some free time as needed. A routine will make a huge difference in your day to day!

Identity 

For all women, becoming a mother changes their sense of self. There is now a new part of your identity that feels like your sole identifier at times. You’re no longer just responsible for yourself, but instead, you’re in charge of another human being. Ways you used to describe yourself might change after having a kid. The social butterfly in you is less social these days, staying home with your baby on weekends or leaving events early to get back home for your kid. For working mothers, maternity leave can be a hard transition. If your career is mainly a central focus in your life, it can be challenging to take a step back or transition into being a stay-at-home mom.

New motherhood doesn’t just take away that autonomy for those who consider themselves independent, but you can also find yourself leaning more on others for help than before. And of course, with having a baby come changes in your body or mental well-being. Your body may feel unfamiliar, and you may struggle with symptoms of postpartum depression (which is very common!) These changes can be overwhelming, but you’re not alone.

There’s going to be changes in your self-identity once you have a child. It’s ok to take time to fall into this new title and adjust to your new role as mom. It’s also ok to miss the days where you just had to take care of yourself. This doesn’t make you a bad mom. Don’t compare yourself to other moms out there. Each mama is doing their best and raising their child in the way that is right for them.

It might help to connect with other new moms to have an outlet where you can talk about your struggles as well as successes. Read books on new motherhood or find groups to join in-person or online that offer advice for new moms. 

Travel 

Spontaneity is no longer an option when you have a baby at home, and spur-of-the-moment trips or overnight stays are sacrificed to ensure your child gets sleep at home. Even outdoor activities or hang-outs with loved ones have to be planned so you can either pack appropriately or have enough time to call a babysitter. And when it comes to more significant events like weddings or birthday dinners, you have to consider another person now instead of just you and your partner. 

As your baby gets older, traveling will become easier. But right now with a newborn, there are adjustments you’ll need to make.

The best thing you can do is to plan ahead. If you know of a wedding or party you want to attend, mark that date on your calendar and reach out to someone who can watch your baby for you. 

Personal Hygiene  

Have you been wearing the same shirt for the past few days? Probably. But, we’re not judging, mama! You barely have time to sit down and enjoy a fresh, hot cup of coffee, let alone indulge in a steamy shower where you can wash your hair and shave your legs. The laundry is piling up, and the dishes might still be sitting in the sink. The clean and pristine house you used to know looks slightly different these days. There are toys everywhere, clothes on the floor, and your skin-care routine is nothing like before. 

Take a deep breath, mama. Let go of the expectation of a perfect house and self-care routine. You just gave birth to a miracle baby and your body is going through so many changes as well as your brain. It’s ok if there is mess. You’re taking care of a beautiful child and you’re doing amazing.

Once your baby falls into a routine such as a set nap time, take advantage of these breaks to take a bath or clean your room. If you have the means, it can also be helpful to hire a cleaning service so this is one less responsibility on you! Also, ask more of your partner if you feel like everything is falling onto your shoulders. Figure out days where one manages the house while the other checks in on the baby. Team work makes the dream work!

Peace of Mind

For any new mom, you lose a sense of peace. Now you have your baby to worry about. You might ask, “Is my baby feeling ok?” or “Am I even doing this whole mother thing, right?” Anxiety comes with the territory of motherhood, and your sense of peace is forever altered. Especially in COVID-19 times, new mothers had more significant fears to face. “Is it even safe to be here?” you might ask yourself when bringing your baby to a store or someone’s house. You’re protective over your baby, and you want to make sure they’re secure. Being a mother means being worried because you’re full of love for your little one. 

Being a mom will bring a sense of worry naturally because you want the best for your baby. Everything you feel is valid and other mamas are feeling it too. Just remind yourself that you are more than capable of taking care of your baby and you know what is best for them. You can make decisions and are already navigating hardships like COVID-19 with a newborn. Give yourself some credit, mama! Trust your instincts and give yourself a break every now and then because you deserve it. 

From less time to shower to adjusting to a new identity, these are major things to give up. And at times, what you are giving up might feel incredibly overwhelming and emotional. Having a baby irrevocably changes your life, and many of these adjustments will take time to settle. While making these changes is hard, and you’re allowed to feel however you want about them, we know they’re worth it. Because these sacrifices you’re making are to give your baby the best life possible, and one day your child will see all you’ve done for them and be so grateful.

Mamas, remember that your baby also brings positive changes into your life, and applaud yourself for all you give to your baby each day! 

About the writer

Meghan Nelligan is a freelance writer and creative storyteller based in the United States. She is passionate about mental health, creative writing, and social media. She also manages an Instagram account and a portfolio site for her poetry where she shares weekly readings, personal writings, and favorite works. Check it out here: https://gempoetry.squarespace.com/

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