Giving up work to look after your new baby can be both very rewarding and very challenging. SO how do you find the right balance? Yuliana Topazly from BuddyWith has some advice on how to make the transition from intellectually engaged career woman to full time mum:
1. Join supportive communities of fellow parents. These can be virtual or physical. It is important to be in touch, talk about your challenges, share experiences, listen to other people going through the same journey as you. By connecting with others, you will know you are not alone – and what you are going through is completely normal.
2. Diary ‘me’ time. You may have heard this before but it is even more important when you become a mum. There are no longer days off, weekends or a sick leave… so you must ensure you have a chance to switch off and have time for yourself.
3. Share how you feel. Talking things through can help to ensure you get the support you need at home. Partner’s aren’t telepathic – they need you to communicate with them if they are to help you. Do not leave it until it is too late. Also, share how you feel with your doctor, and look for local support if you feel you may benefit from it.
4. Reflect on each day. Ask yourself three questions and write down the answers: What have you learnt today? How did you feel about it? What were you really proud of today? Answering these questions each day will help your own self-exploration and allow you to recognise and build upon your progress.
5. Prioritise childcare. Nothing is worse than constantly worrying about your child while you aren’t with them. Checking up on them every minute and jumping each time your phone rings isn’t healthy or pleasant and will leave you feeling mentally ragged. Invest your time in finding the right solution for you and your child.
6. Engage with outside world. Learn a new skill – there are so many options and joining a class is a great way to meet new people outside the ‘new mums’ network, give you time away from the childcare, keep your brain engaged, and give you a sense of achievement. Also, engage with your partner and their life and work, take an interest in the world outside your baby. Stay in touch with what is happening in the world and how it impacts you and your family.
7. Use the local children’s centre. These are fantastic places which offer so many free courses with crèche facilities – and most importantly parenting courses and peer to peer support groups. You need never feel you are struggling on your own again! How about learning baby signing so you can start communicating with your child earlier?
8. Share your skills. All of us are talented and offer something very unique. Use this to build on your strengths and support others in the community. Consider a skills swap as a way to learn something new.
9. Be mindful. Using mindfulness is a great way to stay calm and avoid that overwhelmed feeling, especially when parenthood gets really tough. Just a few minutes each day for yourself could make a huge difference. There are apps, books, YouTube videos and podcasts to help if you feel you need some mindful guidance.
10. Money. The family budget is a common cause of conflicts and misunderstandings – so budget appropriately and don’t bury your head in the sand. There are thousands of community groups offering free opportunities for parents to learn, for children to develop and play and for parents to relax and have ‘me’ time. It does not cost anything. Invest some time in doing your research – it is amazing what you will find and how little you need to spend!
11. Returning to work. When you are ready to go back to work remember that you were employable before you had a baby and you are even more employable now as you have learnt so many new skills – make sure you reflect this on your CV.
Finally, enjoy every minute, and be prepared for anything! Having a child is incredibly rewarding and almost every parent will tell you it’s the best thing they have ever done – but it’s all over far too fast! So make the most of the it and savour every moment.
Yuliana Topazly is founder of BuddyWith.org.uk – a supportive community of parents and experts who are there to help each other, offer advice, and share experiences. See: www.BuddyWith.org.uk