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Why is being a new mom so hard sometimes?!
Everyone talks about the beauties of motherhood because let's be honest. Newborn snuggles, all of the firsts in that first year, it's actually pretty magical. But it can also be very hard. But no one wants to complain when they have a new baby which leaves us all feeling totally isolated and guilty about our feelings. I actually watched a YouTube Video by Jess Hover about how she didn't like be a Mom (she actually has two here is another one) and thought “SHE CAN'T SAY THAT” and then I had a baby of my own.
The best advice I've gotten is AND is your best friend. It is okay to feel like it's hard AND you wouldn't change a thing. Or that you are exhausted AND grateful. I sat down and tried to explain why being a mom is so hard and I came up with 11 plus 5 things I've found to ease the blow.
If you're reading this and thinking “moms are struggling?! HOW this is pure bliss” DO NOT DIM YOUR LIGHT. Us struggling moms NEED you and your positivity to give us some perspective.
So here we go 11 reason why being a mom is HARD + 5 tips to make it better
Being a mom is HARD:
1. Tasks cannot be 50/50
Seth is a GREAT partner and dad, always asking what he can do and wanting to do MORE. The reality is (that I wish I'd known) is that the responsibility will not be 50/50. Your partner may have to return to work sooner than you do. If you're breastfeeding you will be feeding (or pumping) to make sure the baby can grow and thrive.
The other simple fact is that this baby has known YOU for 9 months growing inside of you and YOU are the comfort. Your voice, your body, your smell, you're everything. This is EXHAUSTING and beautiful.
2. We're lacking our “village” which makes being a mom HARD
Um… the “nuclear family” is a relatively new thing and moestly western thing. I've been reading a lot of cultural parenting books (Hunt, Gather Parent is my favorite but this is the list of my favs). Before now, people had large families who were there to help. A lot of us don't have anyone teaching us tried and true ways to care for our babies, to helps us burp our babies, change diapers, cook food, feed us, help clean, give us time to shower etc. etc. etc.
We're also moving around way more than we ever have before so we're often living away from our families. So we really need to work on creating this village for ourselves.
Here are a few people I've found to be great in my village:
– Your neighbors!
Do not be afraid to talk to parents walking their kids! Odds are they also need someone to hang out with. I've made 2 mom friends in my 6 months living here. One approached me when I got home from errands and simply said “did you just move in?” and a conversation was started. She had her baby and I had mine. Boom.
The other was at the park, we both had daughters around the same age and just asking question about their babe sparked the conversation.
– Hire in your village
– Babysitter: For me I had to find a sitter so I could get some guaranteed work done. We used a babysitting website where they background them, you can search different price range and criteria.
– Housekeper: This site also has an option to find someone to help with cleaning (housekeeping)!. Mental health is IMPORTANT. If you can find it in your budget to have someone help you clean 1-2x a month I'm sure you can imagine how good it would feel?!
– FOOD: This one has been huge for me, I cannot manage to feed myself! So I pay for a delivery service that delivers food every week. I started looking at our spending and saw that we were easily spending $1000/month on FOOD. So the (approx) $130/week for 3 meals feeding 2 seemed like a no brainer! I usually would buy one meal and ask it to feed 4 so I could make a huge batch and eat it for dinner/lunch! Currently I'm using this company that is vegetarian and have really enjoyed it! Seth does too… he'll usually add some meat to his!
3. Less measurable successes in motherhood.
There's not easily measurable successes in motherhood like there are in other areas of our lives. For example I just hit 100k subscribers on YouTube and guess what?! THEY'RE SENDING ME A PLAQUE!!
Motherhood it just doesn't work like that, you're the boss and the employee. I will say a “you're doing great” or “You're a great mom” does go a long way in my book, compliments welcome and needed!
4. Purpose and Identity
Before I was a mom, I was a full time traveler. I had freedom, I was spontaneous…I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And, I loved it.
Now, it's obviously really hard to do those things. I consciously created this “Shayla” and was so proud. When I had my baby I had to become a different person. You have to be responsible for someone else, their food, nap time etc and put them first which you might not be used to.
However, some people find their identity in motherhood and that's incredible. But for some of us, we need to sort of lose who we are and then re work and redefine who we are. That's what I'm currently doing and working on processing.
You have SO much increased responsibility when you become a mom. I had a friend visit the other day and it took AN HOUR AND A HALF to get the babe to sleep. I wanted to hang out with my friend, but you now have responsibilities and put their needs above your wants. That's not fun AND you do it anyway!
6. Information Overload
We live in an Instagram and internet era where there's SO much information ALL THE TIME. And, all this information means that there's conflicting information. You take one course that completely contradicts a different course.
And you're sitting wondering what is THE right answer?!
Well, that's the point.
There's a thousand different ways to do it right so you really just need to figure out what you align with the most and then follow that account or read those articles or talk with those moms.
Our motto has always been to do what works, until it doesn't, and then change it.
So, for us, I nursed to sleep and it didn't bother me (even though tons of resoureces tell you this is not the way). It worked just fine for us until I wanted my period back and I wanted to sleep longer so we night weaned. She's still waking up a couple times a night, but I got my period back so…success!
But with this, I had to find the right accounts, the right articles, and the right people that do things like me. I have people like my breastfeeding gurus (my breastfeeding tips here) and I can go to them with questions about that or my bed sharing moms and I go to them for conversations about that.
Their first hand knowledge is super helpful and they don't judge me, find them in your community!
7. We Second Guess Ourselves!!
As a mom we take the blame for EVERYTHING and we second guess EVERYTHING. So, when babe isn't not going down for a nap we think “I shouldn't have skipped the second song, should have put her in shorts and not pants, the temperature of the house is too high, did she eat enough?!” ETC ETC ETC. There's SO many things that you do in a day and you're always like “what's the one thing that I did wrong?” and same thing when things go right… we're trying to figure out exactly what you did so you can replicate it!
Somebody just recently told me “it's what your toddler eats in a week, not in a day” and WOW did I need to hear that!. Sometimes she does eat nothing and sometimes she eats a ton. So, that made me feel a lot better.
It is hard being a mom because we have insane hormones. We're literally like a crazy person dealing with a normal person (our partner).
I have a friend who's going through the adoption process and she told me she can't wait to be a dad (or non birthing parent). I asked her what she meant and she was like “I'm not going to have all the crazy hormones from pregnancy and labor and breastfeeding!”. And then I totally understood what she meant. The hormones really add an extra little something to all the craziness of being a new parent.
9. I. Cannot. Think.
I honestly feel like I don't have the mental capacity to think about anything beyond keeping her alive in this moment. . So I basically get all of my stuff done during her naps, at night when she's sleeping or when the babysitter is here. It's ridiculously taxing on my brain. Sometimes when I do finally have a moment I can't do anything but sit in silence and just let my body relax.
I recently went to see a therapist and I led by telling her I didn't think COVID had mentally affected me very much. I worked from home anyways and it didn't seem like that big of a deal to not be able to leave the house much.
Then, as we kept chatting, I told her about how the babysitter wants to take the babe out of the house and drive her places like the zoo. I was explaining how I was anxious someone would take her, or they'd get in a car accident or the other million things that could go wrong and I started realizing COVID may have affected me more than I thought…
11. Working From Home
Remember when I said I couldn't have a thought past what was going on right in front of me? Yeah…that's what makes this so freakin' hard. To cope with this, I've made an effort to do 100% of work when I'm working and then have 100% kid time where I focus on just being a mom and don't worry about work.
Completely dedicating time to each thing has made me feel wayyy better than trying to do 50/50 all the time.
Also, things that used to take me all day, I can now do in an hour because that's all the time I have!
Things that have helped:
1. Decide what is your ONE THING
Like I said, I've struggled with redefining my purpose and identity with motherhood. But, one thing that's helped me is finding my One Thing (there is actually a book about this that I HIGHLY recommend and probably need to re-read *listen to* again). Full list of my book recommendation here. They're mostly cultural parenting books.
So what is your one thing? Do you want to get at least one 30 minute (or even an hour long workout) a day? Is it to make sure there are never dishes in the sink? Do your makeup? Manicures? Meditate? What do you need to feel like yourself? Pick something and commit to it.
This is what has worked for me:
I'm starting a podcast (September or October 2021) because I need human interaction with other adults. I've been able to be a guest on a couple podcasts (Herself podcast where we dig into motherhood and not taking it too seriously. And also Yoga Strong Podcast where I start to unpack finding myself again. After recording I felt a.m.a.z.i.n.g!! My cup was overflowing and for me, that was a sign that it was something I should be doing for me.
I'm also extremely excited about it because a lot of times when I post something on Instagram, I get professionals in my DMs sharing all this incredible knowledge and it needs to be shared with everyone!
I also am my best when I do just 10 minutes of meditation. HOLY CRAP, just ten minutes of meditation on the Peloton app, headspace or YouTube took me to another planet for a hot minute where I could sort out my thoughts. I would come back feeling way more put together.
So, I really recommend choosing something for you and committing to it! Figure out what you need to do to make it happen, hire a babysitter, talk to your partner about how you can make it happen. You deserve it and you'll thank yourself later!
2. Create your “Village”
You need to create that community or village for yourself if you don't have it. I'm talking random moms at the park, retired aunts, weekends with grandparents, the gyms daycare, regular daycare, babysitters, meal kits, house keepers, whatever you need and can budget for!
3. Be confident in your choices
Make a decision, make sure your partner's on board, and roll with it until it doesn't work then re think what you've got going on. This is YOUR family, trust that you know what's best for your family and don't worry about what other people think.
4. Ask for what you need
It's SO helpful and SO hard to ask for help. Sometimes it's just easier to do things yourself, sometimes you don't have the words to explain what you need, and sometimes you don't want to have to admit you need the help… and sometimes asking for help can be the very thing you need.
Start delegating. Otherwise, you'll go insane…trust me, I know. One night I finally asked Seth if we could take turns with being responsible for the babe if she wakes up after she falls to sleep. He said “yeah, sure”, it was as easy as that. It's so amazing, now we each know every other night we have the night “off”.
Plus, partner's love giving us solutions, and typically, if they come up with a solution, they might even help you implement it! If I ask for help having time to go to the gym, he offers to put her down for her mid day nap so I can go get my fitness on!
Budget to hire someone to help! Figure out what thing you need most and start looking!
5. Hang on tight… It will get better.
They say that with every child your relationship suffers for about three years. So, hang on tight, try to work together, and power through, because it can be hard. It's hard being a mom, it's hard being a partner, it's all hard… AND it's all so worth it.
Good luck out there, ma's! We're doing the best job for our babies AND it's hard!