The first months: let people help!
What I would like to have known when I came home from the hospital: personal stories and advice from mums who have been through it – this one’s especially for new mums!
At the moment at Coorganiz we are conducting a lot of interviews with organised mothers who share their personal stories and their tips about everyday organisation. While chatting with all of these mums, one phrase kept coming up: “You must tell other mums to ask for help right from the start!”
Well, when I thought about it, looking back to myself as a first time mother, exhausted, in the middle of December, deciding to go shopping with my baby when my mother had just offered to do the shopping for me or to mind my son….No, No… I found it much better spend 15 minutes wrestling my baby into his winter suit, heading downstairs with the baby carrier into the cold (always heavier when you don’t have any abdominal muscles left), racing up and down the aisles with sweat running down my back and discovering that I had come out without my purse, bursting into tears in front of the cashier and taking my son home again, no shopping and the baby seat as heavy as ever….
Melanie, a mother of twins, whose partner works shifts, put it this way: “Don’t hesitate to ask for help from your family and friends so that you don’t cut yourself off.” Annie made the same remark; she was so tired when she went back to work that she had to go on sick leave for a few weeks after the end of her maternity leave. “If I’d known, I would have asked for more help”.
Why refuse help, by the way? “Because young mothers, especially those who are first time parents, feel so completely invested, and a little overwhelmed by this new responsibility, and they want to prove to themselves and everyone around them that they are on top of things” answers Laure, a coach who specialises in assisting working mothers.
It’s true that we are much, much more laid back when it comes to the next child: we delegate better, we let others take them more easily… In fact, we should think about our first child in the same way as the second, or even the third one!
Here are some good habits to adopt right from the start and they may change your life as a new mother:
Get a full night’s sleep once a week: ask your partner, your mother, your cousin… anyone who can take over so that you can have a full night’s rest from time to time. Delphine, who breastfeeds, asked her partner to bring baby to her and to take baby back: “it wasn’t perfect, but I felt less watchful, waiting for the first cries”. No, asking your partner to tag you out is not a sign of weakness. Ok, he works during the day, but so do you! Being a mother is a huge job!! (repeat this to your reflection in the mirror every morning!)
Say yes when someone offers…rather than “Oh no, that’s so sweet, but I can manage, you know…” Nolwenn suggests making a list: “I make a note of everything that is missing or that I need…” When someone calls me, I always have something to ask them! Bread, the dry cleaning, an hour of their time while I go to the doctor next week! Otherwise, you get so foggy that you hang up without taking this opportunity to get some help.”
Go out: whether for a dinner with friends or a coffee with a girlfriend without having one ear tuned into the pram. We all have different needs when it comes to going out, but the main thing is to get back into life, to have an adult conversation. Yes, we know your partner is an adult, but it’s not the same! And if a babysitter is not an option for you, feel free to ask a friend, or your sister! “In fact, I discovered that people are delighted to help!” Iman reminds us. “They feel useful and that creates bonds, real ones!”
Get used to being separated from your baby: in a few weeks, you will have to go back to work or to you other activities. It’s as good for you as it is for your child to learn to be apart for a few hours progressively.
This is what I would undoubtedly like to have dared to ask and to put in place with my first child…. But I would have had to take off my “Supermum” cape! It’s what we all eventually end up doing, but always a little too late!
And to continue getting used to separating from baby, discover the advice from our child psychologist Claude Berthon: