Why mums must put themselves first
By Claire Eva Pierce BACP accredited and registered Counsellor/Therapist
Becoming a parent is often described as “the most exciting journey of our lives” but having a child can also be an exhausting and anxious time, particularly first time around. The relentless demands of parenting can catch us unaware and, having been encouraged all our lives to be self-reliant, many of us are not very good at asking for help.
While becoming a mum or dad can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, financial worries caused by the loss of a salary, childcare issues for those juggling work with parenthood and concerns about a child’s health or education can make the early years a stressful time. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to ensure they are strong enough, both as individuals and as a couple, to cope with any difficulties they encounter and fully appreciate the joys of parenthood.
Claire Eva Pierce, a Therapist and Counsellor in North West London, has many years’ experience of helping people through their difficulties. She stresses, “It’s vital that mums don’t feel guilty about carving out some personal time to look after themselves and nourish the relationship with their partner. Just opening up to a close friend over coffee or enjoying the occasional evening out as a couple can make you feel better able to cope and nurture your baby. Even if you have to call in a favour or twist someone’s arm to babysit, it’s usually well worth the effort.”
It is human nature to make comparisons, but this is especially unhelpful when a new mum is feeling insecure and vulnerable. ‘Competitive parenting’ where parents boast about every aspect of junior’s development – such as the age he or she slept through the night, was potty trained or took their first steps – can knock a new mum’s already fragile confidence. Others find it difficult to deal with the loss of self-esteem on becoming a mother after holding down a busy, high status job.
Claire reveals, “Some mums I’ve helped would beat themselves up over not getting enough done in the day. I tell them not to be so hard on themselves, but to focus instead on what they have achieved. I work with mums, helping them learn to value themselves during this major life transition and accept the different rhythm of their new role.”
Here are some of Claire’s top tips to help us enjoy motherhood:
- Join in – The switch from working in a busy office among colleagues to being at home alone all day with a baby to look after can lead to mums suffering feelings of isolation, particularly if they do not have a supportive partner or close family nearby. Investigate mother, baby and toddler groups in your local community. Even if you don’t meet your new best friend there, connecting with someone else in the same boat means you can share experiences or discuss concerns and won’t feel so alone.
- Exercise – As well as helping keep us fit and healthy, it’s well-known that exercise releases feel-good endorphins that create a sense of well-being. You stand the best chance of keeping up your exercise if it fits in with your life, whether that’s walking an older child to and from school, finding a gym with a crèche or joining a buggy workout class.
- Meditate – If you find it difficult to switch off, why not try Transcendental Meditation to help you relax and unwind? Meditation can help you release stress and rest even more deeply than sleep. There are many different approaches, but TM is the best researched and scientifically proven.
- Get treatment – If you’re feeling low or depressed you won’t be able to connect fully with your baby and meet their emotional needs. Consider counselling or therapy to help you deal with any deep-seated issues.
- Accept help – If someone offers to lend a hand, don’t be shy about taking up their offer! It could be a lifesaver and, one day, you’ll be in a position to do the same for someone else.
Claire Eva Pierce is an experienced BACP accredited Counsellor/Therapist. Her practice is in Mill Hill, North West London. She specialises in helping mothers explore the issues that prevent them leading their lives fully. For enquiries and appointments call 07957 418 985 or email me.