People transitioning from one phase of life to another are often the best candidates for coaching and new moms and dads embody that more than most.
At my house we just added our third baby to the family which has given me a strong reminder about the need to be mentally prepared for the task of expanding your family. I know these strategies inside and out, but sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, it’s a great time to slow down, consult your own coach, and make sure these strategies are playing out in life the way they do in a textbook or in your head before the baby comes.
For those of you who don’t yet have a coach, this knowledge will be a great starting point or reminder as you move down the road on your parenting journey.
This first guide, while written by me (a dad), is going to be written with moms in mind. Regardless of who the primary caregiver in the house is, the experience of a mom and a dad are always going to be a little different. Dads, don’t tune out of this article though - like all things in your life now, everything is a team effort. So be ready with this information to help the mother of your child be her best self moving into this new life.
Coaching tips for new moms:
1) Set time aside to be yourself - My wife said new moms would laugh at me when I wrote this because time is the one thing new moms don’t have. Like most things in life, we think we are short time, but we always create space for the stuff that is really important. This one is really important.
These things can be simple and minimally invasive, but when you’re caught on the hamster wheel of parenting, a small time investment has maximum impact.
So what activities will accomplish this goal? Showering. Driving to Starbucks (by yourself). Putting on makeup if that’s your thing. Putting on new clothes for the day and not getting stuck in your tempting jammies. Find a time to go out with your friends (even if it’s after the kids are asleep).
Every mom is going to be different with what helps them connect to themselves. You’re a mom now, but you’re also you. Use your support system to make sure you carve out a little bit of time for the basics that bring you happiness.
2) Reconnect with your why - It’s very easy to get caught in the minutiae of parenthood. Picking up toys, feeding a bottle or breastfeeding, making the same meals, reading the same books, driving the same places, etc.
I often talk with parents of older kids who opine over all the mundane little tasks they have to do with their kids. They’ll say things like “I have to taxi my kid all over town.” It’s easy to get stuck in this mindset that you essentially gave birth to a child so you could become their glorified Uber driver or their maid. But this mindset is toxic. A car ride doesn’t have to be a taxi trip. It can be a chance to connect with this life you’ve created. It can be a chance to instill values or to share music that helped you get through your life. Feeding your baby isn’t some clerical task you have to do every couple of hours, it’s a more intimate connection than you’ve probably had in some time where the baby is is not only being physically nourished, but is being spiritually nourished.
When you’re stuck with “small” tasks, remember the bigger target at which you are aiming. This will change your internal dialogue about the minute to minute of your life.
3) Lean on your support system - My wife and I live in a state where we have no family so we don’t get the free babysitters and constant influx of people to visit the new baby. You might be lucky enough that you have that. If not - what are your other support resources? Do you have friends? Do you have a church community? Do you have another parent in the picture that can help? Do you have online communities that can share your experience?
The support system you have will vary, but reach out and use them. Other parents will be sympathetic and make more of an effort because they can empathize with the position you are in, but don’t be afraid to remind your friends without kids that you need them or you’d love to see them. They can’t know what you are going through them, so be fearless and seek out that which you need.
If you feel alone, it’s not the time to withdraw, it’s the time to get more resourceful.
4) Re-evaluate your goals, values and blueprint - Motherhood is a big transition that has potentially compromised your body, your career, your relationships, and your romantic relationship. There is no better time to re-evaluate exactly what you want out of your life especially now that you have added the new wrinkle of being a good parent to your goal list.
You’re going to experience an intense conflict between your parenting goals, your career goals, and your romantic goals. This conflict or incongruity, if left to its own devices, will consume you. Take the time to get out a piece of paper and write down what you want out of life as of today. Write down the things you MUST have (long and short term) and the things that are unacceptable. Clearing up this picture, rather than letting your mind worry and feel bad, will help you immensely.
5) Get the team on the same page - If you’re lucky enough to have a spouse or significant other in the picture, one of the most important things you will do is divide up your tasks in an even and fair way. This can be a difficult conversation, but difficult conversations mean important progress. Do not go on feeling as if you are doing everything until you blow up about it.
Also, master the no-look pass. You and your spouse will both have terrible days and moments. If one of you is failing, do not hesitate to step in and take over. You guys will both falter in moments. When one falters, the other steps up.
6) Get a coach - If you’ve ever thought about it, now is the time to get a coach. There are good coaches for anything, even specialized “mom coaches.” I love helping new moms and dads, but I certainly understand why a mom might prefer to be coached by someone who has been where she is exactly.
Lastly, congratulations on becoming a parent. The road is challenging, but most rewarding things are.
-if you have persistent thoughts of depression or sadness, please contact your doctor ASAP. Postpartum depression is serious and can be helped greatly by a medical professional.