I’ve been a mom for over 15 years now, and a lot has changed in the parenting world in that relatively short period of time. I have also changed a lot, and changed how I look at parenthood, responsibilities, and expectations. It seems to me that attitudes about parenting go in cycles. Any given parenting option, let’s say baby sleeping position as an example, will go back and forth on whether it is best. Stomach sleeping was best a number of times over the past century, including when Kira was an infant, and now back sleeping is said to be best.
I’m unsure how often the recommendation has changed for how long a woman should rest in her postpartum period, but I can speak to the changes I have made each time and what I’ve learned.
My postpartum experiences
With each kid, I’ve accepted more and more help, and with each, I’ve actually felt that I’ve bounced back faster, in the long run. My energy, patience, and mental clarity comes back faster when I accept help from others, and honestly, I wouldn’t have taken the extra help if my midwives didn’t insist on it. Even with the extra help, I still experience “baby brain” when I’m lacking sleep, but instead of feeling like I’m just treading water for the first few months, I feel like I’m able to stay relatively on top of my weekly duties far better than I did when I was younger, but taking on less help.
With Salihah, my youngest, Hubby stayed home for the first week, and my mom stayed with us for the second week. This was the first time I restricted myself to being in bed as my default action. I ate at the dining table, but stayed in bed for watching TV, nursing, reading, and of course sleeping. After two weeks, I was basically back to my normal routine on my own (minus a couple Mom Taxi trips), unless I specifically asked for something. We’ve been eating simple meals, but the vast majority of the time, I do get dinner on the table. With my first two kids, we basically had take out or sandwiches for a couple months since I just didn’t feel like I could pull myself together mentally to plan the day and get dinner ready before 9pm.
But, I don’t need to lay around!
I hear many mothers say, “Oh, I don’t need to lay around. I’m fine to bounce back into my regular routine.” You know, we are fine to do lots of things that may not be the most healthy for us. We are fine avoiding exercise, we are fine drinking Coke, we are fine not taking supplements. But what if staying in bed for an extended period of time after giving birth is beneficial? Even if you don’t need to, it may be better for you in the long run. Just hear me out here.
We aren’t given a lot of opportunity to take in the moment. How often do we sit back and just stare at our kids while they are sleeping? How often do we watch their idle curiosity and really take in their true innocence Either we are so busy capturing special times with our cameras (and oftentimes missing out on soaking in the real moment), or we are multitasking so much that we miss out on the joy of simple times – The times when all the kids are feeling cuddly, or playing together nicely, or exploring in the yard with such fervent curiosity.
Everyone agrees that they wish they had more time, forgetting the obvious opportunities in front of them. Tweet this
I can’t tell you there are lots of opportunities when life can slow down with multiple kids, but I can tell you to take those opportunities when they come. The best opportunity is to take all the help people offer after you have a baby.
Let your mother or mother in law stay with you for a week. Ask your husband to use a week of vacation to stay home. Hire a postpartum doula, nanny, or maid, if you’re able.
Let other people clean up the dishes, do the laundry, entertain the older kids, and generally fill your shoes for a few weeks, or as long as you are able. Yes, I know you can do all these things. You don’t need other people to do it, but let your life slow down for this tiny speck of time in your life.
Just read books and watch movies with your kids while you sit in bed with your newest baby. Don’t fret about how long a newborn nurses (basically non-stop for the first week or two) because all your responsibilities are taken care of.
So, if people are offering up help, what good reason do you have to say no? Pride? If pride gets in the way of taking friendly, neighborly help, I would argue you need to get your pride in check. Let people reach out and be helpful, both for their sake and yours! We should all be reaching out to our family and community members more often rather than being our own island.
And don’t let being shy to accept help get in the way either. If people are offering, they aren’t reaching out without a sincere wish to help. They will not think you are greedy or incapable. Just as we have to learn how to take a compliment, we need to learn how to accept help, too. Humans were not created to be without a community. Let the community be there for you!
Ways people can help
Make sure to check out my post over at Real Life at Home for ideas on how others can help, or just casually post it on your Facebook feed and hope for the best!