When Leo was born I felt really confident in my abilities as a mother to take care of him and keep him safe. I mean the first few months are probably as easy as it's going to get. You hold them, feed them, rock them to sleep. Get no sleep yourself. But on the whole they are always in your arms or with you.
As Leo started crawling, scooting, walking, eating solids, became more and more aware of his surroundings I found the amount of times a day I hold my breath, wince or get scared has tripled.
It's not just anxiety of him injuring himself. It's also the Mom Guilt (which can give you worse anxiety than a fall). Is he not talking yet because I let him watch tv, he won't wave what have I done wrong, he's not that interested in books and doesn't have a favorite cuddle toy. Does that mean he's not developing properly.
It's exhausting all the anxiety that rushes through your mind on a daily basis.
I'm sure all new moms go through this and it lessens over time. While I'm waiting it out here are a few helpful ways I've found to deal with Mom Anxiety you might find useful as well.
1. Reduce The Time You Spend On Social Media
Facebook is for people with babies. Have you heard that joke. It's true! Don't spend too much time scrolling through and comparing yourselves to other moms. They may be out and about everyday but the picture doesn't tell the whole story and nobody's life is perfect. Take a break from the Facebook and don't worry about what it looks like other moms are doing.
2. Add Some Sleep To Your Schedule
After Leo and Marcelo go to sleep at 8:30 PM I usually stay up for a few hours. It's been the only time I get to myself all day. I watch tv, answer emails & texts, flip through a magazine, have a glass of wine. Then around 12 AM I tuck myself in for an hour of sleep before Leo wakes up and crawls into our bed. Then I'm up and down the rest of the night taking care of him. Lack of sleep can contribute to any anxiety you may be feeling. Now I put myself to bed by 10 PM at the latest and feel so much better in the morning. It's amazing what a difference an hour of sleep can make. If you can't change what time you go to bed. Make your little ones nap time your nap time. Trust me you deserve it!
3. Give Yourself a Moment To Breathe
Most stressful thing for me is when I'm driving alone and Leo is in the back seat just crying, screaming. Maybe because we're at a stop light and not moving, maybe because he can't see me. There's no way for me to know. He's always fine, but I'm a wreck after one of his crying jags. I've found that once I get him calmed and settled I need to give myself 5 minutes just to breathe and recollect. If I have to give him 5 minutes of tv in order to do it. It's worth it! If I can put him in his activity center so I can close my eyes for a minute even better!
Every Saturday morning Marcelo gets up with Leo and takes care of him. I go to the gym. I arrive tired, cranky, stressed and more. After an hour of exercise everything feels better. Exercise is great for soothing your nerves and forgetting for a while. Put the do not disturb on your phone. Play some music and zone out. Let your endorphins take care of the rest.
5. Go Outside
Being inside too much can add to stress. The same scenery, feeling mundane. Just going outside to take a walk can improve your perspective so much. If it's cold and you have to go to the mall or a big department store or museum. That's good too! Just change up the scenery a bit, let your visual senses take in something different and get your mind occupied elsewhere.
6. Connect With Your Friends
Being a Mom especially a SAHM is isolating. Which can make you feel anxious. This time about not taking care of yourself. Mom groups are a great place to meet other people in similar situations to you. Plus they get it! So you can talk freely with each other about Mom life. If your having a bad week. Text one of them let them know what's going on. We're all in the same boat together.
7. Find A Hobby
I know as a Mom this is a near impossible task. But if you can find something to keep your mind occupied elsewhere it will help you keep it from roaming into all those unnecessary what if's. It could be anything from sudoku to putting together puzzles. Or if you want to be more practical about it: knitting, cooking, sewing, assembling photo albums or your family tree can all work as well.
8. Delve Into Gratitude
Studies show that focusing on gratitude helps us deal with troubling emotions. Take a moment each day to focus on something you are grateful for. As a mom, it’s easy to feel guilty and overwhelmed, but it’s just as easy to find moments with your children to feel grateful for. Relish their milestones and be thankful for them. Our children make us proud, and it’s important to celebrate the joy that they bring.
Nothing and I mean nothing in this world makes me feel better than a good long squeeze from someone I love. Well, maybe giving someone I love a big hug is the only thing better than that. Hugs make you forget all your worries for a moment and cloak you in love. Now that Leo has started wrapping his little arms around me for a hug several times a day it's about 10 more times a day I forget what I was worried about and just feel how much I love him and that everything is going to be alright.
HANG IN THERE!