Thank you Kirsten for letting me share this valuable information on my blog.
Confident Parenting: Lessons and Learning
Topic: Why am I finding this so hard?
This was a question I was asked recently in a post-natal group I was
delivering to. It came from a woman who prior to having her baby was in
a highly professional, highly trained, highly stressful job and was
excelling at it. She was at a loss as to how this little bundle of love
and light was rendering her completely incompetent!
I sympathised, poured her a hot cup of tea and then asked her: why are you surprised?
Just because you are a lawyer/ A&E consultant/ teacher/ designer
when you have your baby, and successfully managing and thriving in that
role, does not automatically mean you will cope as a parent.
You had training, learning, exams for your job. Years of it. Most
probably your only introduction to being a parent was watching your own
parent you, watching a friend/ sister, and attending a 3 session
antenatal class (and that really only talks about the delivery and a
fraction of what comes after). Why do you think you are not going to
struggle and have dark days? There is no 'parenting training' and no baby manual.
Being a teacher/ lawyer/ gardener provides some degree of emotional
separation. You most probably do not teach your own children, represent
your own children or garden for your own children. When it is something
of you and from you which is there making demands of you that you're
not sure what they mean, it is different. It is difficult. It is hard.
It can hurt so much more to feel so useless or unknowing. There feels
more at stake and you are emotionally invested in this little being more than you've been in anyone before.
Your job probably had working hours. Whether you had the odd overtime
day or went in on the occasional weekend to catch up, there was still a
break. Time out. Physical separation. Parenting is 24/7. Sometimes
there can be no break, at all, for days... It can be an incredible adjustment
to try and make: having demands made on your time, energy, and body constantly.
You can do it though- it DOES get easier!
I know that is a bitter pill to swallow when your baby has been crying
for 37 hours and has been feeding for an hour, every hour. Right now you
probably want to reach through the screen and throttle me with my own
platitudes! You don't want to hear that it will get easier, you want it
easier now! Understandably. So here's a few ideas on how to do that:
Take a few very deep and very long breaths. Drop your shoulders, relax your toes. Breathe again. Allow some seconds to gather yourself together and get some distance and perspective. Breathe again.
Give yourself a break- literally and figuratively. Knowing now why it
is not an automatic given to be able to cope as a parent, stop being so
hard on yourself! It is not easy, there are no rules. You can only do what you can, when you can.
And take a physical break: hand the baby over to someone in your
support network, crying or not. Go for a walk. Go to bed. Whatever you
need to do to feel recharged and calm, do it.
talk to another parent. Go see a fellow mother, go to a baby group or
have someone come to visit you. You may not feel like exposing your
parenting inadequacies to the world but actually, admitting your struggles and sharing them with others,
can be very healing and helpful. You will feel you are not alone which
may not solve your immediate problem but can be incredibly reassuring.
remember who you were 'before baby' (bb) and connect with that. As a
teacher/ lawyer/ engineer you had numerous skills and talents, draw on
them to help yourself through the difficulties. Just because you aren't
'trained as a parent' doesn't mean all your other abilities are
obsolete- you just need to be creative in using them to your own
positive effect. Also, it is helpful if you can, to reconnect with activities you used to do
'bb': arrange to go horse riding/ start knitting/ taking photos-
whatever you used to do that was part of 'you'. You may not be able to
do the 3 day sea kayaking trips of old but a little bit of something is
better than nothing and will ease the feeling of being completely
disconnected with yourself.
These are just some of the ways you can make things easier, now. If you
want to take a look at a more comprehensive range of suggestions, you
will find tips for new parents on how to thrive rather than survive here.
Remember: parenting is so much about feeling your way as you go.
There is no other 'job' that dumps you in the deep end quite like
parenting. But you can do it. You can.
You may want to check out some recent blogs that explore the new parent/ motherhood adjustment a bit more:
ABOUT Kirsten Hanlon (B.A. Education and Psychology, PG Dip Teaching, Dip LC, distinction)
Kirsten Hanlon is creator and director of Mums and More.
She is dedicated to helping and supporting parents in developing their
parenting confidence, using gentle and practical techniques.
Her parenting philosophy is not about perfect parenting; just parenting
that is perfect for you. With training and experience in Education and
Coaching, Kirsten runs a private practice in the Cotswolds, England and
works with all mothers and new parents in building life-long parenting
An author and speaker, Kirsten has also worked closely with local
authority child-care professionals in developing their expertise
relating to post-natal content and delivery.
You can find all you need to know and more about Kirsten and Mums and More on the website: www.mumsandmore.co.uk