No matter how experienced you are or no matter how many books you have read or schedules you have created, it is not very often things go according to plan without any “hiccups”.
Many of us moms strive to be Super Mommies juggling baby (or babies!), the house, chores, errands, meals and work too oh, I almost forgot, Hubby! We cannot forget about him.
I know when I had my guy I was told to “relax” so many times that I thought I was going to lose my mind.
How the heck could I relax with so much to do?
My lactation consultant told me it was imperative to relax and that the baby felt my stress.
Then my midwife told me “if he is not sleeping or crying, just relax, take a few deep breaths and try not to tense up because he could feel it and would respond negatively” (as in more crying and more awake time!).
As much as I kept saying, “I am! I am trying! I am trying!” I really wasn’t giving it my best shot.
When I actually focused and started to chill out, take in the moment, gaze down at my son and let it be and sit contently, things started to shift.
The anxiety inside me started to soften, I started smiling more, tension in my shoulders and neck disappeared, breast feeding got easier and Chase was taking in more, crying lessened (for both me and Chase!), my husband and I started having actual conversations instead of battling with decisions and challenges- we started to work together- and I finally “got it.”
Babies and children are very sensitive to social barometers. When parents stress, the kids are going to be stressed.
“When parents are consumed by their worries,” says Andrew Garner, MD, “they are less attentive to the needs of their baby, which can leave the baby feeling isolated and afraid.
Kids also learn from modeling, so you model the way you manage stress. If you model good stress management — taking a deep breath, counting to 10, making time for exercise — they learn from that.”
Toxic stress can impair the connection of brain circuits and lead to the development of a smaller brain.
Children can become overly reactive to adverse experiences throughout their lives, developing a low stress threshold.
High levels of stress hormones can suppress the body’s immune response, leading to chronic health problems. And sustained high levels of certain stress hormones can damage areas of the brain important for learning and memory.
Developing good coping tools to help you manage your stress is essential. That way, your little one isn’t overwhelmed by it or stressed more than necessary. And the situation doesn’t escalate into something more severe.
The less stressed your baby is, the more they will respond to you, the better they will eat, the better they will sleep, and so on.
So what can you do to de-stress?
- As simple as it may sounds, it works to take a deep breath and count to 10. Your heart rate will lower and tension will automatically lessen.
- Yoga is a fabulous form of exercise and a great way to get rid of stress. I know getting out to a yoga class (or into yoga gear for that matter) may not be in the cards so why not hop online or pop in a DVD and get downward dogging for even 15 minutes if that is all you have.
- Exercise! Join a stroller fitness class or grab a friend and schedule in nighttime walks once your little one goes down for the night, or if you have a piece of cardio equipment at home, hop on while baby naps- trust me, you will feel the burn in a good way!
- Chat with other moms. There are so many amazing forums and mommy blogs out there. Hop on line and start chatting. Even just reading that other moms have the same struggles seems to lessen the load and make you feel better
- Set realistic expectations.
- More professional and goal oriented people typically have a harder transition when they have a baby. If you have the daily list of to-do’s with 10 things on it every day, you are going to be stressed when you don’t accomplish everything on that list.So, instead, accept that it is ok that the list be less and that things will not always get done. But hey, who cares about changing a light bulb when you can spend that one on one time snuggling with your angel in the dark.
- GIRL TIME! I don’t think I need to say anymore.
I have been part of the crowd that says, “I don’t have time for yoga, or exercise or a night out or even a shower for goodness sake”! But I not so quickly realized, making time for myself is a parenting responsibility.
I am not being selfish. I am doing this for my child just as much as I am doing it for myself. Relieving stress in your own life simply benefits both you and your baby.
Now onto that bubble bath with lavender oil…after the load of laundry comes out of the dryer.
Janey Reilly, founder and principal of WeeSleep, is a leading professional infant and toddler sleep coach. Janey believes that providing infants and toddlers positive sleep skills in a gentle and guided way will in turn not only create healthier children but healthier and more joyful parents with a more balanced home life.
Find her at www.weesleep.ca or call or email today to get some advice and sleep right away! 289.983.6464