As a general rule, a coach shouldn’t share personal stories without asking a client permission to do so. During my maternity leave, I had a few friends and clients ask me if my role as a coach impacted my role as a new mom. The answer is a resounding yes. So, I’m asking permission to get personal on my blog with the hope that my experience may be useful to other new moms or moms-to-be.
I’ve written about marginal costs: how when you say yes to something, you’re always saying no to something else. I gave myself permission to say no to a lot of people, while saying yes to my new family. Because I’m fortunate to live in a community surrounded by family and friends, I could have had a revolving door of guests the first few weeks when I was at home with my newborn. Had I said yes to all of the people offering to help, I would have been saying no to what I really needed: alone time with my husband and newborn. Instead, I asked for rain checks and promised to call in favors from friends when I was ready to accept their generous offers to help. (Family and friends should respect and understand whatever boundaries you put in place—it’s not about them, it’s about you.)
Tip: For me it was more helpful to cash in offers of help around week six when I was ready to exercise. I asked friends to watch my baby for two hours so that I could work out and shower. Ask for help when you’re ready, and tell people what it is you need—your friends and family will feel great knowing they helped you in such an important way.
Resource allocation is all about investing time and energy in what matters most to you—it’s about the power of choice. In any situation we’re faced with, we always have choices, and I used the power of choice to get through some exhausting moments as a new mother.
My husband was home from work for almost two weeks after our daughter was born. I chose to have him sleep in our guest bedroom so that he could be well rested and care for me during the day. There were some moments in the middle of the night, when I was up with a crying baby, that I remembered I had options: the choice to wake up my husband and get help, or the choice to calm the crying baby on my own so that he could care for us in the morning. Throughout the first two weeks, I chose both at different times.
Many new moms have issues with nursing, and the same was true for me. The issues I faced are far too numerous and personal to share here, but the important lesson is that I coached myself to use the power of choice. I didn’t have a choice about what my body was producing, but I did have a choice in how I handled what my body was producing. Ultimately, I landed on a combination of nursing and supplementing, because that’s what’s best for me and my baby for now. And I have the choice to change my mind and switch to 100% formula at any time.
Tip: Remember you always have a choice in how you handle situations, no matter what hand you’re dealt.
Comparison is the thief of joy
“Comparison is the thief of joy”: I repeated this statement to myself continually throughout the first two months of motherhood. Comparing your situation to others rarely yields happiness. Comparing my milk supply to others’ doesn’t change the fact that my supply is low. It just makes me angry. So I stopped comparing myself to others and started thanking my body for giving me what I do have. Releasing anger = total win.
I’ve also found that people offer unsolicited advice about how I should parent my child (let’s be honest, I’ve been dealing with unsolicited advice from the moment I told people I was expecting). I’ve heard about how to feed my baby, how to burp my baby, where my baby should sleep, how long she should sleep—the advice is endless. But it’s really just about that person wanting to compare their experience to mine. My reminder to myself: Every family has a system that’s best for them, so it’s a waste of my energy to compare or to listen to others compare.
Tip: When people compare their experience/rules/approach to yours, consider saying something like “I’m so glad that choice worked for your family” instead of getting into a deep conversation about why you’re doing something differently. Save your energy and be confident in your choices.
I often work with clients on eliminating killjoy thinking: replacing negative thought cycles with positive ones. And as I embrace my post-pregnancy body, I’ve been using the same tools on myself. Again and again, I’ve caught myself in negative thought patterns and have learned how to disarm and redirect my thoughts.
Example: I recently got back to working out and caught my mind trash-talking my reflection in the mirror. Once I realized I was doing this, I redirected the thought and gave myself a mental high five: “Way to go, Regan. You just had a baby and are totally getting after this workout. Be proud that you’re putting in this work!” Replacing the negative (and false) messages about myself with positive (and true) messages about myself has helped me reject killjoy thinking, which has increased my happiness and boosted my self-confidence. Another win.
The bottom line in all of this: it isn’t easy becoming a new parent. However, there are tools you can easily implement that may help you navigate your new normal. Say yes to what matters most to you, remember you always have a choice, remove comparison from your life, and replace false negative thoughts with positive truths.