When I first locked eyes with my daughter, Rita, on Tuesday, August 13, 2019, my life changed in the best way possible. I quickly realized that in true motherly fashion, I was last on my growing to-do list.
Rachel Hollis once described women as glass vases constantly tipping over for everyone and at some point, if tipped over enough, it breaks.
But, when a vase is full and continues to fill up, what happens? It overflows to everything around it.
I’m guilty of pouring and not replenishing.
From the moment Rita was born I continued to work. Some people called me crazy, others didn’t understand, but I knew deep down that the fire burning in my belly (no, this wasn’t a side effect from giving birth) to be someone she’d be proud of burned bright.
Knowing what I know now, I should have taken my foot off the gas and thrown it into neutral to give myself space to navigate my new normal.
With every experience comes hindsight and valuable lessons and I learned the importance of self-care. Here are four of mine that will hopefully fill your vase, too.
You’re more important than the laundry
Looking back at those first few months, I would do my best to get all of my normal chores done at the same pace I did before I had Rita. When I wasn’t feeding her or if I put her down for a nap, I’d be like Sonic the Hedgehog running around my house trying to clean up the clutter that somehow always accumulated throughout the day, do the laundry, and any other daily cleaning tasks to keep some semblance of order in my house. There were days when I would force myself to get things done because what kind of mother would I be if I couldn’t get the laundry done and folded? Spoiler alert: She was just fine even if there was clutter on the kitchen table or I hadn’t done mine or my husband’s laundry in a week. Rita needed a mom, not a cleaning lady. Your mental and physical state are way more important than your mountain of laundry.
Ask for or accept help when offered
Repeat after me: You are not burdening anyone when you ask for or accept help. Now that I’m pretty much back into the working groove, I need help and every time a family member comes over to take care of Rita for a few hours or even a full work day, I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and as if I’m burdening them. I thank them profusely. I throw in a handful of apologies for making them watch her (even though they absolutely adore her) and I go on my merry way, looking back the entire time. As a new mom, you feel like you’re the only person that should be watching your child. After all, you carried them around for months on end, birthed them, and now it’s your lifelong responsibility to take care of them. But just because you shoulder this immense and wonderful responsibility, that doesn’t mean you can’t accept or ask for help so that you can work and chase after your dreams. Being a mom is hard but realize you’re not alone and you’re NOT a burden. The people that offer to help you love you and your baby, so accept it and appreciate it and kick that mom guilt to the curb.
Don’t compare yourself to others
We’re living in a time when we’re inundated with “perfection” on social media. I would see new moms effortlessly juggling motherhood and their career and start wondering where I was going wrong. How did they have their life in order and I was sitting there quietly eating trail mix so I didn’t wake Rita who fell asleep while breastfeeding? Then I reminded myself that nobody posts the first selfie. There’s probably a camera roll full of outtakes before they posted their “perfect” shot. The same goes for being a new, working mom. Don’t let comparison steal your joy and the small amount of energy you left to cherish these fleeting moments with your baby.
Do something (EVERYDAY) that makes you feel good
I could be wearing the same breast milk-stained t-shirt and gym shorts for three days straight, but if I put some makeup on, opened up my laptop and fired off a few emails, I felt like a functioning human being in society. We all have that thing that makes us feel good. Whether it’s putting make-up on, doing yoga, taking a hot shower, writing, or whatever it may be, as a new, working mom, you have to do something every day that makes YOU feel like YOU.
Remember, the goal is to have an overflowing vase so do whatever it is that fills you up so you can pour out to others.
About Maria Marchewka
Maria is a content specialist from Pittsburgh, PA who helps companies small and large with their content and social media marketing needs. With nearly 10 years of experience under her belt, Maria understands what it takes to create content that’s relevant and resonates with the intended target audience. Follow Maria on LinkedIn and Twitter.