I’ve been through a lot of changes in the last three years. My husband and I moved three times (including an international move), I switched jobs, I got pregnant, we welcomed a baby into our family, and I have been settling into life as a new mom in a new city. Everyone goes through a lot of changes in life, some planned and some unexpected.
And right now, we’re all going through a big change—one that none of us could have predicted: COVID-19 and a routine of social distancing.
In the first days of self-isolation life, it was hard to imagine what this meant. I looked at how the lives of others would be impacted, and my own situation paled in comparison. Some people are dealing with illness, others the inability to go to work and get a paycheck, and some are struggling to work from home while tackling homeschooling. In comparison, my routine didn’t seem so uprooted.
I have a 9-month old and our life pre-isolation has a lot of similar qualities to life right now. I work from home with no childcare, I’m already stuck in the house a lot because going places with a baby is a challenge, and I live across the country from most of my friends and family. FaceTime was already our main way of communicating.
But no matter how similar life before and life now seems on paper, it is different. Initially, I ignored my feelings, knowing that other people have it harder. And I’m in no way asking for sympathy because people certainly do have it much harder. That being said, no matter how your life is impacted by the current situation, your feelings are valid. It’s a scary and uncertain time, and we’re all bound to have a range of emotions around it.
It’s OK to feel those feelings.
As a newer mom, a few weeks ago it finally felt like I was finding my groove. Once I made it through the newborn phase, I quickly learned that the days are still long, but I could enjoy them in a new way. The first few weeks as a new mom are incredibly isolating, and it felt like the clouds had officially lifted.
I was entering into a new and exciting phase as a mom. I was finally able to get myself out of the house, I was connecting with other moms, I had daily activities, I went to meetups, and I was starting to make friends in our new city. I even launched my own baby and me bootcamp for fellow new moms. And now it feels like this is all coming to a halt.
As we enter into this new normal, we’re all working to find our footing. There are small actions that we can take to keep ourselves going and feeling positive. If you’re a new mom like me and you’re navigating this situation with a baby, here are a few tips to help you through.
Bask in the ability to stay home
Once I recovered from childbirth, I felt a lot of pressure to go out and do all the things. I felt like I needed to take my baby to storytime, I should join all the support groups, I should go to mommy and me yoga, and so on.
Don’t get me wrong, I highly recommend all of these activities! But right now, we can’t go to any, so enjoy the total lack of pressure we are currently experiencing to do all things. Instead, allow yourself to be in the moment, relaxing at home with your baby with nowhere to go.
Enjoy the leisurely pace of life
If you were doing the above activities, you may have felt like you were always rushing around. Especially when it takes about 10x longer to leave the house compared with the time before you were a mom. Since you’re not going anywhere, take things slow.
I used to feel like we were powering through mealtime as quickly as possible in order to get to the next activity on our list. But now I let meal times linger. My daughter can play around with her food, get messy, and enjoy sensory play while exploring new flavors. We have nowhere to be, so she might as well take the time to give herself a nice yogurt facial. Evidence of this here:
Text your mom friends, even new mom friends
Before self-isolation, I felt like I was really starting to make some solid connections. If you’re in the same boat, don’t let those relationships drop off. Even if it’s a newer friend, text them every so often to see what they’re up to, see how they’re feeling, and exchange tips for entertaining your little ones. It’s nice to be in touch with moms that have babies the same age as you’re really going through the same thing. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Everyone is feeling a little lonely and those texts keep us feeling connected.
Switch it up
I love my daughter with all my heart, but let’s be honest, playing with a baby all day can get a little boring. We don’t live in a huge house, but we do our best to move to different areas of the house to keep things a little more interesting. We’ll do some playtime in the living room, then read books in her room, then look out the windows, and so on. These little movements aren’t much, but they do pass the time.
Go for walks
And while we’re talking about moving around, get outside if you can. Fresh air and sunshine can completely change your mood. It will also give your baby some new sights to see. Getting out of your house, while still keeping your distance from everyone else, is so important.
Listen to music
Since our baby is still young, she isn’t requesting that Alexa play the Frozen soundtrack on repeat (though I will admit, it’s a pretty good soundtrack!). As moms of babies, we still have some control over the music, so play something that you enjoy to keep the mood positive. Browse the mood section of Spotify and listen to playlists like Mood Booster, Happy Beats, or Have a Great Day. There are lots of uplifting options. We also love to belt out show tunes as well as dabble in a bit of Disney Hits.
Finally do your physical therapy exercises
I visited a women’s health physical therapist a few months after giving birth. I was given a short list of exercises to do that would help strengthen my pelvic floor and help heal my ab separation. These exercises would make me feel better and would only take a few minutes a day, but I still rarely did them. If you’re in the same situation, and I’m willing to guess at least a few of you are, now is the time. Do the exercises!
This time is not easy. No matter what situation you’re in, this is a challenging time. Acknowledge that it’s hard while also remembering the things that you are grateful for.