Mothers. How I respect you and am in awe of how you do what you do! To anyone staying at home with their little ones, or even just one of them, I not only respect you - I don’t know how you physically do it?! I say this as the other day I was nursing a newborn while “talking” a toddler down from the climb she is about to take on to concur the fireplace. I think we were alone for 2 minutes or however long it takes for my husband to use the restroom. The amount of sweat I can produce in 2 minutes is impressive! Safe to say, the stay at home gig is not for me, but I am very fortunate to be able to take at least 13 weeks off with our son before heading back to work. Join me on the journey of groundhog day - the stay at home mom version.
I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that one of the biggest differences between the US and Sweden is the maternity leave policy. Or the lack of policy for the US and one of the best deals in the world for Sweden. So for me having babies in the US I had to change my mindset and set realistic expectations of what it would mean to take care of my little ones. However, I quickly realized with my first born that I get impatient and bored with babies, and it happens fast. I knew that I had never been a baby-person so I am not sure why I thought that had changed over night. Maybe because they all say that it will be different with your own kids and that it is so amazing to see the world through a child's eyes? I think that last part means you should be sleeping 19h per day in the first few weeks and the rest of the time everything is a blur, (the last part is actually pretty accurate :) But so all of a sudden the 3 months at home instead of the year seemed a lot more reasonable to me. So then came the next thought, does that make me a bad mom?
It is true that your children are different from other kids. The amount of love I have for my children is unlimited. And as I just learned your heart just double in size for each child you have. Still, the impatience is true for me the second time around as well. The unpredictability of a newborn, the lack of sleep and the kind of same thing day in and day out gets me wishing for the future many times per day. Thoughts like: "If only you were 4 months already so you can hold you own head up" or "If only you were 6 months already so you can sit up by yourself" or "If only you were 3 years old and could play by your self and communicate with words and be potty trained" and so on and so on... “Cherish every moment, it’s gonna go by so fast”. Not sure how many times you hear this as a new mother and sometimes when I hear it I just want to punch something, not gonna lie. Because guessing if your fussy baby needs a diaper change, food, burp or something completely different 1,000 times per day is not always something I cherish to be honest. Don't get me wrong, the snuggles, smiles and mile stone - heck yea! I would gladly freeze time for those and I cherish those moments tremendously. But I guess it is a package deal, and you have to take the bad to get the good. And the challenging times usually makes for better stories too :)
So I am just bitter all the time? No, I am not, I promise. Most of my days are filled with binging Netflix and Disney+ with a sleeping newborn on my chest. I can take walks in the middle of the day and talk to my family who are all in a time zone 8h ahead of me. And sometimes, just sometimes I can take a nap when the baby naps. But I think it is important to voice the challenging thoughts as a reminder that it is ok. It is ok to not love every minute of time spent with your child. It is ok to not cherish every moment. And it is ok to be impatient at times. Most importantly, it is ok to say those things out loud without guilt. We are amazing mothers and women however we get through this little journey called parenthood.
So if you are a new mother reading this or if you just need some boost today, these are my advice for sanity:
Look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you are doing a great job! I really do this quite often and there is no better affirmation than the one you give yourself!
If you are (like me) a planner who likes routine and something happens in your life that throws that out the window (a newborn will do it!), take a moment per day to look at what you have. What you are grateful for. What you love in your life. I am not going to tell you that it gets better because I am in the middle of it and not there myself yet. But I do have things I love in my life and am grateful for and reminding myself about that helps in the chaos we right now call life.
Ask for help. So many have said it before me and it is so true! If you are feeling depressed - schedule a time with a therapist. If you have a toddler and a newborn - ask for babysitters for your toddler to get a calm moment.
Sofie is the founder of Swede Wellness and she has a daughter born in March 2019 and a son born in September 2020. She also has a pretty kickass husband that is along for the journey that she met in January 2009.