Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Mommy Mental Health: Keeping Busy With Baby

Sleepless nights, frequent feedings, many changes, and mountains of laundry are obvious results of having a baby. Undoubtedly there are a lot of things to fill your time, and I have heard my share of horror stories.  To my amazement and surprise, my son has been wonderful.  I am one of the blessed mommies whose child is a decent sleeper, good eater, and fairly contented the majority of the time.  Don't hate the playa', hate the game.

This has presented a new problem.  One that I didn't account for in all my planning and preparing for motherhood. That is - it can be boring.  Don't get me wrong...  I still lose hours staring at his beautiful face and loving every cuddle.  The thing is, humans are social animals and infants aren't exactly the best conversationalists. So what can you do in order to maximize this crazy time that is maternity leave?  Lots!

Early on, the easiest thing for me to do was simply to get a little fresh air.  You have been told by everyone, I'm sure, the benefits of walking.  There are just so many; vitamin D from the sun, social interaction for yourself and the baby, not to mention the chance to burn a few unwanted calories.  As awkward as it may seem at first, make the effort to say hi to passers by.  I had the most wonderful walk and conversation about books with a lovely woman I had never met that started in just this way.

As you feel well and more ambitious, find a destination that you can frequent weekly or even daily.  Is there a nice park in your community to which you walk?  Is your local library nearby?  Coffee fans might have a cafe at a good distance.  It can be harder to judge and stick to a routine of exercise with out an end point in mind. In my experience having a destination in mind makes the journey something to look forward to. Not only that, you'll start to develop "the regular" factor.  When you see someone and are seen often enough, it becomes more comfortable to talk to that person.  You automatically have something in common. Make the trip about the interaction, not just leaving the house. It's very easy to end up spending more money than acquiring friends.

The highlight of my week is a play time I discovered with a local community group.  As the baby and I are not morning people, it took a while to find one that worked well for us, but once I did, the impact was immense and immediate. 2 hours a week I meet up with local moms with children my son's age.  Because the class is tailored to children from birth to six months, the mothers and I have what I call a "me too" relationship.  They are in the same stage of motherhood I am, which makes their advice more fresh.  They appreciate the types of concerns I have because they do as well or have had the same ones recently. We can also discuss non-baby things, which can be nice too!  It can be difficult to talk without your mommy glasses on, but give it a shot.  Whether its reading, knitting or mixed martial arts you're in to, you might just find someone equally passionate!

For many reasons, you might not be ready or able to leave the house.  If you are ill, in the country without access to city resources, or just because it is pouring down rain! What then?  It can certainly be tricky.  I like to play by an "hourly" rule.  If you change tasks, even slightly, every hour, you are less likely to get that dreaded cabin fever feeling.  Try an hour of reading and toys on the floor.  How about an educational documentary?  Maybe you're the crafty type or good at baking?  Learn a new skill or finally get around to organizing that junk drawer!  Of course, all of these tasks will be interrupted with a big spit up or untimely diaper, so don't plan for a straight hour of anything.  Moms have to be flexible like that.

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