For many new mothers, transitioning from a busy work life to becoming a stay-at-home parent can be very difficult. If you’ve spent years navigating the corporate world to build a successful career it can be hard to let go and embrace the changes that come with parenthood.
The first thing we’d like to say is – you’re not alone. As you make this major lifestyle change you may experience a barrage of emotions including:
Many new mums experience a huge sense loss as they embark on their new role as a parent. Transitioning from the workforce to being a stay-at-home mum is a dramatic change and can have significant emotional ramifications.
As a working woman you may be accustomed to external validation and receiving praise associated with your work. Unfortunately, parenthood isn’t always accompanied by the same level of praise. While stay-at-home mums often work as hard, or even harder than others in the workforce, you may not feel you get the recognition you deserve.
If you’ve aligned yourself as a professional you may experience a sense of loss of self identity when you stop work to become a mother. If you’ve dedicated years of your life to build a career and climb the corporate ladder, it’s common to find it difficult to let go of this being such a major component of your persona.
If you’re used to interacting with others on a regular basis and networking has been a huge part of your role, it can feel isolating when you’re faced with the reality of spending more time at home with just you and your baby.
In the lead up to having a baby there’s often a huge build up and a lot of focus is on the mother. After birth and things settle down, motherhood can feel surprisingly lonely. There can be grief towards how things have changed. You might feel like you can no longer relate, feel as though relationships are one sided, or feel excluded from social and professional interactions.
Another issue you may face when you leave the workforce is financial pressure. If you’ve come from a high-paying job to living on a single income you may need to readjust your budget to suit this new lifestyle.
If you’re used to earning a wage, you may also feel a sense of guilt now that you’re not contributing financially. However, remember that your new role as a mother is even more important and you’re working just as hard, if not harder to raise your child. This time is fleeting and won’t last forever, so take it easy on yourself and although it’s a very different role, you’re doing an incredibly valuable job.
Although your new role as a mother brings with it many challenges, it’s also accompanied by many beautiful moments and life-changing experiences. The key to embracing this change is a lot of self care and nurturing oneself.
Go easy on yourself and don’t set your expectations too high. Trying to do everything is a common mistake new mothers make.
Transitioning to this new way of life can be a challenge, however there are a few ways you can help yourself during this time.
Support can be found in many places. Your friends and family will most likely be your biggest supporters during this time, however you can also reach out in other directions.
Mothers’ groups can be a great source of support, allowing you to connect with mothers who are also going through similar experiences. It can be reassuring to know that you’re not alone in your journey and it can be helpful to bounce ideas off others who know exactly how you’re feeling.
There will be times when it’s hard to get out and about, so it’s also helpful to connect online. Joining facebook groups and following mumma blogs are also great ways to minimise feelings of isolation.
While it can be difficult to sustain the same level of friendship you had pre-baby, it’s so important to hold onto past friendships. Ensure you make time for your friends without your baby in tow, even if it’s a walk down the beach, quick coffee or midweek dinner.
If work was a huge part of your life it can be helpful to stay in touch with your work friends, allowing you to continue friendships you valued before you left work. This will work wonders for your mental health, allowing you to relax and take time to foster relationships outside your parenting role.
Parenting is time consuming, however it’s essential that you take time for yourself and your self interests. Now that you’re not working, it’s an opportunity to take on a new project or hobby, just make sure it’s something you can work on between sleeps and feeds.
Unlike working life, looking after a baby isn’t always synonymous with keeping a routine. Just when you think you have a routine nailed, your baby goes through another stage of development and sleep, feeds and routine goes out the window.
If you thrive on routine it can be helpful to try and integrate small habits into your daily life. This could include morning walks with your baby, a visit to your local coffee shop or time spent with friends or a weekly catch up with a mothers’ group.
When you become a mother it can feel like the weight of caring for your baby falls solely on your shoulders. If there’s anything you should remember about this role, it’s don’t try and do it alone.
A supportive partner can be a lifesaver on those days when you’re suffering from intense sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Remember to lean on them for support, they are probably eager to help you any way they can.
While it can feel like motherhood is a step away from your career and you couldn’t be moving further away from building your skills in the professional arena, don’t forget you are continuing to build your skills, just in a different way. Parenthood involves some serious organisation skills, people management, time management and communication.
Try not to be overly critical of yourself- negative internal dialogue can prolong distress, impact self-esteem, and contribute to the development of depression. Self-compassion is key.
When you have your baby with Grace, we invite you to join our Grace Mums and Bubs Club. It’s an opportunity to build beautiful connections with other mothers, be supported with the latest information and receive great rewards and discounts.
If still you’re struggling to come to grips with this transition it may be time to seek professional help.
Grace Private psychologists Karen White and Kerryn Blunt specialise in pre and post pregnancy concerns and can walk you through the challenges you’re facing, including help with depression and anxiety.
At Grace Private we provide a holistic approach to women’s health and want you to live your best life. ‘Ask for Grace’ when you next visit your GP for a referral.