the first year

Why Every Mom Struggles To Make “Me Time”

Along with feeling that being a parent is the most wonderful thing in the world, moms, especially those who are home all day with their baby, often feel stretched thin and overwhelmed with a laundry list of parental responsibilities. They also often feel resentful towards their partners who work away from home and who appear to have gone back to their pre-baby lifestyle almost immediately after the little bundle of joy arrives.

Over the years I have heard many a new mom voice concerns about not feeling that she has enough time for herself; that when her baby is very young, she sometimes hasn’t even showered or changed before her partner arrives back home; and that she is upset when he calls to say that he’s staying late to work, or worse yet, to meet buddies after work or go to the gym. She sometimes wants to scream out loud, “When is it my turn?”

For stay-at-home moms who are breastfeeding, being away from your baby for any length of time is seemingly even more difficult. Sure, it may be somewhat more difficult, but it’s not impossible. If your baby will take a bottle, you can pump breast milk and freeze it; this way, someone else can feed the baby while you’re out.

Sometimes, even getting out for a half hour walk (with or without your baby) can be just what you need to feel reenergized and connected to the outside world. In addition to getting out on your own (try not to go grocery shopping each time unless you really enjoy doing so), or with friends, try to coordinate getting out as a couple too.

Although it’s sometimes hard to find babysitters you might entrust your young baby to, perhaps you’re fortunate enough to have family members who are eager to lend a hand. Even having some adult time alone for an hour or two can feel like a big break. And if you’re lucky enough to have a baby who sleeps through getting into the car, driving to the restaurant, mealtime, and coming home (I know this is possible because one of my babies did just that), then enjoy it! Your baby is much more easily transportable in the first few months and won’t require as much attention as when she is older and sitting in a high chair next to you.

Most importantly, if you’re feeling isolated or resentful, speak up. Ask for what you need and brainstorm ways to make it happen. Try also to remember that although we are prone to feeling guilty about going out without our babies (some people even say that they feel that a part of them is missing), it’s a difficult adjustment going from being a family of one or two to a family of three and that you deserve–might I say need–down time to process all the changes that have taken place. Take a deep breath and remember, being a parent is only a part of who you are as a human being.

Sara Dimerman is a Toronto psychologist who has provided counselling to individuals, couples, families and parents for more than 25 years. She has written four books and is a columnist for various North American and international media outlets. Sara is a regular guest on radio and television shows and is frequently interviewed for newspaper and magazine articles. Sara is married and has two daughters. Contact her on Twitter.

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