Since the very beginning of this journey of parenthood (like when I was still pregnant), I was constantly told (mainly by my mum) that I needed to take time for myself every once and while. That I’ll need time to myself, by myself. As a pregnant person, I agreed with my mum that I will do that because I understand what she was saying. Except I didn’t. Then when my little one came into the world, I couldn’t understand what my mum was talking about because every fiber of my being rejected the idea of being in a separate room from her.
Now it’s a year and a half later.
Needing time, I have found, doesn’t mean that I don’t love my little one any less than I had when she was born-maybe less deliriously. But I had felt that just the fact that I thought I needed time to just be by myself or with other human beings without my little one was like a betrayal to her (I’m a little dramatic). Besides, I was totally taking care of myself, I ate every day and drank water throughout so I was totally fine, right?
So despite the warning signs that my patience had started to grow thin, I pushed through not taking some time for myself. It wasn’t until one night when she was about four months old, she had woken up for the sixth time since I had put her down at ten and I was suddenly tempted to just drop her in her crib and letting her scream that I realized that I wasn’t taking care of myself like I told my mum I would.
I’ll say right here and now that I never thought I would have thought such a thing as dropping her before that night. Exhaustion took its toll and I had let it. I had tried to a be textbook stay–at-home wife and mother; you know, the one the media, sometimes our families and even our significant others at times try to push us to be? I tried to keep my house as clean as possible, mostly cleaning when the baby was napping, as well as trying to teach myself how to cook amazing dinners (my parents spoiled my sister and me by not letting us in the kitchen to do any cooking) so that my husband could be proud of me.
I shouldn’t have put such pressure on myself since I literally had no prior training on any of it. I literally went from a kind of financially stable, hardly any responsibilities besides work and a few bills type of life to a life of taking care of other human beings as well as being a military wife. I really should have given myself a transition period.
So what do I recommend when it comes to taking time for yourself? Sleep when the baby is asleep. If you can’t? Do something light to preoccupy yourself but can still relax while doing. Like reading. Or binge-watching Netflix. Or painting your nails and toenails. Or shaving. Or putting on a mask and laying down doing nothing but scrolling on your phone-if even that.
Your emotional and mental health will improve.
If you have trouble leaving things a mess like many people I know but are at your wit’s end, my suggestion would be to take still take a deep breath before you start cleaning. Cleaning small and lightly, room to room. I would always try to tackle the whole house at once and that never worked out the way I wanted. You can even light clean when the baby is awake. I have found (a little too late) that babies are great at preoccupying themselves when they’re not screaming for you. Which means you can do a light trash pick up or rearranging of things during those times.
Definitely ask your significant other for help. I didn’t ask mine for help in the beginning and he asked a few times only to meet my refusal and now? He spends a lot of his time playing video games and letting me know our child is doing something he doesn’t like so I need to get her to stop. Unfortunately, sometimes significant others are slow on the helping out part. I still ask him though when I’m tired from waking up with our little one throughout the night during her sleep regression cycles if he can watch her. He does it sometimes, for like ten minutes but it’s progress.
I can probably write an entire different post about dealing with a significant other who doesn’t think being a stay-at-home parent is at all a big deal (maybe I will one day) but for now I will leave it at this. Take care of yourself parents.
Thanks for reading! Peace!