None of you will say it, but you’re all *thinking* it…
I always strive to support women through motherhood as best as I can. I have based my entire career on educating mothers on the realities of pregnancy, postpartum and early parenthood and how those affect mental health. I create educational resources, provide mental health support, suggest wellness tools, and spread information about these chapters.
And sometimes the best way I can support you is by just telling it as it is. Words can have a lot of power. Articulating common experiences during the perinatal phase can be so validating because it means that a) you’re seen and reassured that what you’re going through is quite common and b) someone else has put language to your reality so you don’t have to.
One of the most bullsh*it things about motherhood is that we’re expected to accept it in all of its craziness, adjust without problems, never complain, and even enjoy it all the time. I’m sorry but those are some wildly unrealistic expectations!
There are some (many) parts of motherhood that are just really hard and inherently difficult. I’m talking about the physical pain you endure before and after birth, the anxiety you feel during pregnancy, the stress that comes up when your baby won’t stop crying, and all the minor losses that you must grieve as you make one of the biggest transitions you will make in your entire life.
What makes matters worse is the guilt we as mothers often feel. There’s so many things that are just freaking hard… but we’re often too scared to admit it out loud. Why? Because what if it means something about us as mothers? What if we appear not to love our kids or we seem ungrateful? What if we say how we *really* feel and others don’t get it and just make us feel worse? These are all valid concerns. But if you’re having a hard time, I still want you to know that that’s a valid way to feel.
Below are 25 truths about motherhood that are common but fairly uncomfortable to admit out loud to friends. How many have you related to recently?
This is so common. I mean I hear this all the time. Whether it’s your first pregnancy or a subsequent one, you may just not feel that ecstatic joy that society expects you to have. That’s ok. Maybe you’re worried about giving birth, getting a postpartum mood disorder, or you’re nervous because you don’t entirely feel ready. A lot of women find out they’re pregnant and feel shock, disappointment, frustration, fear, or anxiety. Some also experience negative emotions towards their baby. It’s so common. Not just you I promise.
2. I’m not doing well
You’re not doing well but for some reason, when your friends ask, you’re unable to say so. Instead, you keep conversations surface level or only report the good stuff. What would happen though if you were to confide in your friends and say something along the lines of, “Hey, things are feeling overwhelming and not great at the moment. I need a bit of emotional support.” In all likelihood your mom friends would understand and even feel the same. Your friends without kids may also have the capacity to take you out for lunch and listen with non-judgmental ears.
3. I secretly hate my partner
This happens. Most relationships take a hit after having a baby. When you really think about it, that makes sense. So many things literally change overnight and suddenly you just don’t have the same time, capacity, and energy to connect like you used to. For moms, the balance of things can also feel so unfair. You had to be pregnant for nine months. You gave birth. You have to breastfeed. And now you are doing the bulk of the household chores, night waking, meal prep, etc. Sometimes all your partner has to do is chew too loudly and you want to kill him. I have a course that addresses this resentment and relationship imbalance. Check it out here.
4. I’m scared of the thoughts that pop into my head sometimes
Intrusive thoughts in motherhood are so common and can be so scary. They usually focus on harm coming to you or your children. And guess what? They thrive on shame and silence. If you want to take their power away, try opening up with a friend you trust. “Ugh my brain is so weird sometimes. I always visualize these crazy pool accidents.” Since intrusive thoughts are so common, it’s more than likely that your friend has a few of her own to share.
5. I regret having kids
This is such a tough feeling to sit with and it can be hard to have a thought like this without feeling guilt, shame, self-criticism, fear, and then further regret. Some moms immediately love motherhood. Some don’t. If you have doubts as to whether or not you’d go back and do it all differently, you’re part of a really big group of women. Sometimes finding *your* people can make all the difference in this experience. Maybe you’re not into a traditional approach to parenthood (but society has you feeling like you should). In a case like that, finding the right friends who share your values can be a great way to make the experience more positive.
6. I’m lonely
We need to feel heard, seen, witnessed and held. When we don’t have that, loneliness and isolation kicks in. It’s so tempting to only show the positive side of motherhood when secretly, you wish you had a close mom friend to confide in.
7. I’m not sure if I’m any good at this
Every mom feels this way sometimes. What if you could kick off a conversation with the *right* group of mom friends and all have a good laugh together about the things that have gone wrong lately? You accidentally sent your kids to school with frozen lunches. Your friend forgot to bring her child’s bag to the camping weekend and had to improvise. These things can feel like failures in the moment but they’re relatively harmless and it can relieve a lot of stress if you laugh about yourselves together.
8. I miss my old self
You miss spending your money and time on you. You miss your old routine and having less responsibilities to constantly take care of. You miss girls nights, your old wardrobe, solo travels and your yoga group. Sure, you wanted this life and you like your current life as well. But sometimes you just miss those days!
9. I feel disconnected from my body
Pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and mom life took a toll. Things don’t look or feel the same physically. You don’t feel at home in your own body anymore and maybe body image issues are also coming up. You don’t say anything to your friends because it seems like a silly thing to complain about. Really though, it’s totally justified. This is such a common experience, that I actually created a free resource to improve body image issues. Get it here.
10. I’m going through a hard time with my relationship
You may not be at the level where you hate or actively dislike your partner, but things might feel strained and just out of sync. Sex postpartum can feel weird or even scary. And with so many new things to tackle, it may have been weeks since you really had a deep conversation. This is so common for couples after a baby comes into the picture that I’m positively sure that someone in your life will understand. My course that addresses certain relationship challenges postpartum is also here so if you want to do some research on your own first, that’s up to you!
11. I don’t actually know if I’m connecting with my baby
It doesn’t have to be love at first sight. Maybe nobody told you but the connection between you and your baby will grow over time. Sure, some mothers feel that love and connection instantly, but plenty don’t! If you were to get honest with your circle of friends, surely more than one person would relate.
12. I haven’t felt like myself since having kids
These mom confessions aren’t just for mothers of babies or really young kids. Motherhood can quickly turn into a self-sacrificing endeavor if you don’t catch it. You used to have the cute apartment, go out dancing with friends, or host dinner parties. And you can totally get back to that! Having this conversation is the kind of thing that can prompt a girl’s night, friend trip or commitment to a new hobby. (I tried roller skating this year!) Rather than suffering in silence, bringing this feeling to light can inspire change for more than just you.
13. I’m really worried I’m going to cause harm to my kids
This is related to intrusive thoughts again. Most of us have an intrusive thought or two that comes up again and again. Yours might be something like fearing you’ll leave the stove on and your kid will burn herself or worrying that you’ll drown your baby in the bath. These thoughts just… happen. The good news is that they hold less power the more you admit how silly they are. If you have scary intrusive thoughts, here’s a workshop that will help.
To go out with friends, to watch lighthearted shows on Netflix, to cook up a storm, to sleep in, to read, to do a long workout, to travel, or to do absolutely nothing. Sometimes you just want time and space for you. Sometimes you actually don’t want to be with your family. Nothing wrong with that!
15. If I were to go back in time, I’m not sure I’d become a mom
As a therapist, I’ve seriously heard it all. And I’ve heard this mom confession dozens and dozens of times. The funny thing about saying something—even the “worst” thing—out loud, is that that very act can minimize its impact. Say this to your friend who really gets you and you might be met with a huge sigh of relief and a “OMG me too!” Motherhood is just HARD. Maybe you both need an afternoon to vent about what’s causing the regret and a good chat about what you’d be doing instead in another life. It’s good to daydream because by looking at it rather than avoiding it, you may come up with some creative ways to invite more joy and excitement into your current life. Yeah, a chat like this could also bring up some FOMO or jealousy but isn’t that still more productive than hiding in shame and letting a thought like this eat at you?
16. I’m jealous of women who don’t have kids
You might see what other childless women are doing and feel that pang of envy because you wish you could do that too. Maybe they seem lighter or freer but you don’t actually know what they’re dealing with. Even though it’s normal to compare sometimes, that can intensify things like postpartum depression, anxiety and low self-worth. A lot of weight can also be lifted by just confiding in a friend. “You know, sometimes I envy women without kids.” Boom weight lifted! If you’re thinking this a lot, maybe it’s time to give back to yourself. My self-care challenge is a way to do that. Plus, it’s free.
17. My partner doesn’t get it
A lot of women end up feeling that their partners take them for granted or don’t recognize all that they do in order to keep the family going. Resentment stems from unmet needs. Do you know which of your needs aren’t being tended to? Full disclosure: most of your friends’ partners don’t get it either. The longer you all keep quiet about it, the longer it’ll take for them to become aware.
18. I’m running on fumes
What if you were to just say it like it is next time your friends ask? “I’m running on fumes. Motherhood is burning me out. I’m tired and I need more support.” Sometimes it’s wise to get professional support before you really feel like you need it so that you don’t reach a breaking point.
19. Sometimes I don’t know if I like my kid and that makes me feel guilty
One really weird thing about motherhood that most people absolutely don’t talk about is that you don’t get to pick your kids. You can raise them as best as you can, you can lead by example, and you can illustrate your values. But you don’t get to choose their personalities and for some moms, there can be clashes that are hard to sit with. There’s only so much you can control or influence and if you’re having a hard time letting go of that, you’re definitely not alone.
20. I miss the social life I had before kids
We know you love your kids. We know you love many elements of your life right now. You can also miss spontaneous evenings out, restaurants or summer travel on *your* itinerary. Both can be true at the same time.
21. Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done
From growing a literal child and carrying it around for nine months to figuring out how to actually *raise* her all while keeping a career going, and tending to yourself and your relationship… those are all hard things to do on their own. Now to do them all at once while being expected to go with the flow when days get turned on their head for no reason? Seriously. So. Hard. If you don’t want to admit this to anyone in your life, I’m here to validate that.
22. My expectation of motherhood was different than the reality
Society focuses on things like “pregnancy glow” and “the mom who does it all.” There’s the annoying pressure to “bounce back” right after giving birth or be the pinterest-perfect mom. There are also people who only show/talk about the things in their life that are going well. So yeah, all of this creates an unrealistic expectation which you don’t have to keep comparing yourself to.
23. I feel like “just a mom” now
We all need to feel seen and witnessed, for all parts of ourselves, not just our role as a mom. You’re a multi-faceted human being with distinct traits, strengths and interests. We need to be witnessed so that those who are close to us can celebrate who we are and what we’ve become. You might not say it to your friends but when you feel like “just a mom,” it’s as if certain parts of you—your spontaneity, your intelligence, your creativity, your sexuality—aren’t important anymore. Which just isn’t true.
24. I cut corners when I feel like I’m just over it
We all do this. What’s with the pressure to do everything perfect all the time? Sometimes all you have time or bandwidth for is boxed mac and cheese, letting your kids watch tv all morning, or not enforcing bedtime because you don’t feel like dealing with the complaints. So what? Can you let some of the perfectionism go?
25. I hate being pregnant
Not everyone enjoys pregnancy. If your friends and family did, good for them. But really there can be so much physical discomfort, pain, uncertainty, and anxiety that can come up during this time. If you’re not loving it, there’s no reason to feel ashamed or guilty. Just because you’re grateful to be pregnant doesn’t mean you have to enjoy physically carrying a child. Those are separate things.
Motherhood can just bring on such a mixed bag of emotions. Some conflict with one another but pop up anyway. Certain ones can be easy to move past whereas others can just feel horrible enough to sit with let alone admit out loud. Even though you might feel ashamed of your confessions that you’d fess up to if you could, there’s nothing wrong with identifying with any of these. No phase is perfect and it’s okay to admit to what you don’t love about this one.
And if you’d like to continue to dive into some self-help strategies as you continue to work through the ups and downs of motherhood, check out my self-compassion affirmation cards. They’re totally free and they will help. Feeling ashamed to say what’s truly on your mind often stems from self-judgment or self-criticism. These cards help you re-route your thinking so that you can feel the opposite. Picture being able to meet yourself where you’re at with compassion.
It’s an imperfect journey. It’s ok if you’re just surviving… or if you threw the baby books in the fire.
If you’re a mother, by now you’ve heard piles upon piles of bullsh*t advice for motherhood.
I’m talking about those unsolicited tips that usually make next to no sense and only serve to confuse or anger you. And more often than not, they just contribute to anxiety and worsen your mental health during a time that’s already hard enough.
You know the advice I’m talking about. Usually it comes from some well-intentioned (but annoying) source. You never asked but they feel the need to chime in with their two cents anyways. What comes to mind right now?
Here some bullshi*t advice for motherhood I hear all the time:
“Sleep when the baby sleeps!”
“Enjoy these moments while they last!” (Eye roll!)
“Motherhood is natural, you’ll just know what to do.”
“Be grateful!” (Thanks for making me feel worse, right?)
“Don’t feed your baby x,y,z.”
“You should put your kid in daycare.”
“You should stay home with your kids until they’re older.”
“You really shouldn’t be on those medications if you’re breastfeeding!”
“I lost my baby weight by… You should try x.” (A hard no to weight loss advice and bounce back culture am I right!?)
“I don’t agree with your birth plan. X would be a better idea.” (As if anyone should tell you how to give birth…)
“Oh you want a baby? The best way/time to get pregnant is…”
“Don’t take your kids to adult restaurants. Just leave them at home or go somewhere family friendly.”
“You can’t travel with a baby or young kids.” (You totally can!)
How many of these have you heard? Maybe you even heard several of these this week.
When you’re a new mother, becoming a mother, or trying to conceive, you seem to get unsolicited bullsh*t advice for motherhood from everyyyyyyone! Your mom, your mother in law, your friends, your friends’ friends, you well-intentioned aunt…
It’s exhausting. And it doesn’t help.
Advice like this is often out of date, conflicting, doesn’t align with your values, or it’s just straight up confusing. It makes you doubt yourself, question your decisions, or it can bring on decision fatigue. And we wonder why anxiety and low self-worth in motherhood is common!?
You know what does help? Actual, solid no bullsh*t advice. I asked my Instagram community for some input here, and received literally hundreds of entries about what advice would have truly been helpful. Here’s what moms wish they could have heard much sooner:
No bullsh*it advice for motherhood that *actually* makes sense:
1. Unfollow social media accounts that aren’t serving you
You get to curate your experience online. So many accounts can make you feel like sh*it about your style of parenting, your body, your lifestyle, or your relationship. If it does, hit that unfollow button!
2. Google less
Stop consulting Google for every little thing. Just trust in yourself and your ability to learn hands on. Excessive googling just feeds into anxiety and enables you to ruminate or get stuck in a OCD loop. Sure, research a little as needed, but try not to get caught into the endless loop.
3. Get comfortable asking for help
For some reason, our culture idolizes the “Mom who does it all.” Think about why that is and who benefits from that. Who benefits from mothers hustling at all costs without a peep? (Your boss? Your company? Your partner?) When that becomes the standard, that puts the bulk of responsibility on women rather than addressing elements of a system that is inherently flawed. You need help. Just ask.
4. Just do what’s right for your family
Motherhood isn’t one-size-fits-all. We’re all different and we’re all raising different human beings. Our differences are part of what makes us awesome! Consider that next time you compare yourself to whatever the next family is doing. What works for them might not work for you. Maybe the summer programs don’t matter so much to you because you spend your days hiking or hanging out at the beach together. Maybe you keep your kids’ bedtimes strict because you *know* how grumpy they’ll get otherwise.
5. Take the medication if/when you need it
There’s a whole list of approved medications for pregnancy and for breastfeeding. Did you know that? Did you also know that if you need medication for mental health purposes, that’s ok? Sometimes the risk of not taking medication (untreated mental health issues) is greater than any risk of taking the meds.
6. You don’t have to sleep train
Unlike what social media and marketing will lead you to believe, it’s not the norm to sleep train, and you certainly don’t have to. Check in with your values (and get clear on what those are). If it doesn’t feel right, let it go. There are many ways to manage sleep, including your own anxiety about baby’s sleep, that don’t put pressure on your child.
7. Go to therapy even before you really need it
Sometimes we don’t even know when we need support and it can always be a good idea to be proactive and get that professional, unbiased opinion before things get to an unmanageable level. Your future self may thank you.
8. The internet doesn’t know your baby better than you do
Instagram, parenting websites, blogs and Pinterest aren’t in your home and they’ve never met you or your child. You get to call the shots! You are the expert in your own family.
9. Becoming a mom is a freaking hard transition. It’s ok if you’re just surviving
Seriously read this one again if you must! When you become a mom, literally everything changes: your lifestyle, your routine, your identity, your body, your relationship, your sleep schedule and circadian rhythm, your nutrition (if breastfeeding), your house… everything. Why would would that be easy? Society makes a bigger deal out of physically moving house or changing careers. THIS right here, you becoming a parent, is a HUGE deal.
10. If it feels wrong, trust your gut
If it feels wrong to you, that’s a sign that it doesn’t align with your values. You always have the authority to do what’s best for your family and your needs.
11. Don’t bother reading all the baby sleep books
A lot of them would be better off in the recycling. Or burnt in a campfire.
12. Find lactation support ASAP
Gosh! How many of us read the books, prep the nursery, take the birth classes and do ALL THE THINGS only to actually have the baby and find out that breastfeeding is really hard? I recommend checking in with a lactation consultant early on because you’ll probably need her.
13. It’s ok to cuddle, rock or nurse your baby to sleep
The “experts” or baby books may tell you otherwise but you do you. If your baby is communicating with you and needs your attention and care, do it! This piece of advice that tells you otherwise can seem so counterintuitive.
14. Nobody knows what they’re doing even if they look like the do
Every mom has her moments of winging it, flying by the seat of her pants, or trial-and-error. (Sometimes that looks like mostly error.) The good news is that you’re trying your best. The better news is that a lot of this will make for some funny stories when they grow up.
15. Don’t take anyone’s sh*it! You know what’s best
You don’t have to spend time in the mom group that makes you feel like shit. You can distance yourself from people who are unkind. And if someone puts you down, offers unsolicited advice, or disrespects the way you parent, you can respectfully set a boundary there.
16. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone and that’s fine
Some people breastfeed, some don’t. It’s all ok! Maybe you’re unable to breastfeed and choose to feed your infant formula. Maybe you can breastfeed but don’t want to. Maybe you only breastfeed. Maybe a combination of the two works best. You get to make that decision and there’s no right or wrong.
17. Stop stressing about night wakings. It’ll end eventually
You’re working so hard and you’ve made enough sacrifices already. By now, you’ve gone through birth, carried a child through your pregnancy, adjusted, learned, been physically depended on, and made plenty of tough decisions. Seriously, go out with your girlfriends, book the family vacation you want, order the takeout you’ve been craving, or skip that family event you know is going to leave you feeling drained. You’re worthy of your own consideration.
19. Stop disappointing yourself in order to please others
Ughhh the self-sacrificing mom narrative needs to just die already. If you’re always coming last, often disappointed or not really doing what you want to do, then something has to change.
20. Your life isn’t supposed to look like hers
So simple and so true. We all compare—that’s human nature. Next time you catch yourself comparing yourself to her (whoever she is), remind yourself that your life isn’t supposed to look like hers. Your life is supposed to look like yours.
21. When your baby gets older, nobody is going to care what, how, or when they ate
Breast milk, formula, both, baby food, homemade food you blend yourself… This is honestly such a minor detail in the context of their overall life and therefore not worth the major stress you may be feeling.
22. Refuse to enter “best baby” contests
You know how people talk about who’s a “good baby”, “great eater” “terrible toddler”? What’s even the point of these comments? These are so harmful and quite honestly, unnecessary. See if you can just opt out and avoid labeling yourself or your baby as good or bad. You’re all learning.
23. Your baby will sleep eventually. Try to remember that
In the moment it can totally feel like holding a crying baby is just your life now. Don’t worry… she has to fall asleep eventually. And I know that doesn’t help get rid of the pain in that exact moment but sometimes reminding yourself of this can bring some perspective that helps you feel less hopeless. There are no 12 year olds that are still waking up needing to be bounced back to sleep. It will end.
24. Motherhood is an imperfect journey. Mistakes happen
You’re going to miss a cue every once in a while, you’re going to buy the wrong size diapers, you’re going to drop the ball on the school project. You’re going to lose your temper here and there. You’re going to completely drop the ball from time to time. Because you’re a human being, and that’s what we do. Is there anybody in your life who you love because they’re perfect? Probably not. Cut yourself the same slack.
25. Your relationship might take a hit for a while. It’s normal even if others haven’t let on
26. People forget very quickly what it’s like to have a new baby
Your good friend may have had a baby just a few short years ago but now it seems like she doesn’t remember this sleepless, chaotic time where you’re in pain from breastfeeding and you have no idea what day it is. For some reason people just… forget. Can you let them off the hook, and focus on giving yourself the validation and compassion you need instead?
27. You don’t have to cherish every single moment
You’re going to hate some moments and that’s ok. It’s also ok to admit that you’re not enjoying a particular day or even an entire chapter of motherhood. You don’t have to be super into the baby years. You don’t have to pretend that sleepless nights and constant diaper changes are awesome. You don’t have to feel guilty about admitting that your two-year-old absolutely annoys the heck out of you when she throws her sixth temper tantrum of the day. Some moments just suck. Don’t take on guilt on top of that.
Alright, that brings us to the end of my no-BS list of advice.
I am so grateful to have heard from so many moms in my Instagram community who shared their ideas of advice that truly was helpful. If you want to join the conversation and see some more ideas, scroll this Instagram post – you’ll leave with such a fresh perspective and feeling very much not alone.
If you feel like you hate your partner these days, these five reasons might explain why…
Ok I’m going to be the person who just says it honestly.
Relationships can really tank after having a baby. This is one of those things that’s common but feels awful. It can also seem out of nowhere. One day you’re in love with the person you chose as a life partner and a mere few months and one baby later, everything they do irritates you! And most likely, nobody told you, right?
We prepare for motherhood with birth classes, baby showers, prepping the baby rooms, and buying all the essentials… but somehow many of the most practical things get lost in the excitement. Like navigating your relationship after your newborn baby arrives.
There’s an entire scale of what relationship problems after a new baby feel like. This describes anything from feeling like you hate your partner, wanting to snap at them, feeling disconnected, not wanting any level of sex or intimacy with them, or just carrying around a grudge for reasons you can’t quite name.
Even though this is common, it can feel horrible. No, you’re not doomed. You’re not headed for a breakup or divorce. This is just a strange and really tough period of adjustment.
But why do these relationship problems surface after having a new baby? Here are five of the most common reasons.
#1 Your whole world has changed
From your sleep routine (or lack thereof), to your daily priorities, to your body, to the things you spend your time on, literally everything has changed. Overnight.
Before you may have spent your days building your career, working on personal projects, having coffee with friends or hiking outdoors. Now, you’re waking several times in the night, feeding constantly, soothing baby cries, and you don’t even feel at home in your own body. It’s a lot.
When you look at your partner’s life, it hasn’t even undergone a fraction of those changes. No matter how much they support where they can, it’s still a much bigger adjustment for you. That pisses you off!
#2 It feels like everything is on you
While there are certain things that will naturally fall more to you (like breastfeeding, editing your diet in order to ensure a healthy milk supply, physically adjusting after birth), it shouldn’t all be on you.
Societal expectations placed on women in general and mothers in particular can be hard to break from. You and your partner may not subscribe to traditional gender norms but even still, they’re so ingrained that you might not even realize the ways you’re automatically taking on more.
I encourage you to sit down and ask yourselves: who is taking on what responsibilities, and does this feel fair? If things feel unfair, resentment will build over time. That’s pretty much like the relationship version of allowing a roof leak to go unaddressed: it builds over time and the problem gets worse and worse.
〰️ I’ve created a self-paced online course that directly addresses the common (but really detrimental) issue of having an unequal division of responsibilities, called Sharing the Load Of Parenting. This would be a great resource to watch with your partner so you can get on the same page and nip that resentment in the bud asap.
Ok, your body has just gone through the process of getting pregnant (maybe that was easy, or maybe that involved fertility treatments, lifestyle changes, miscarriage, etc.), birth, the recovery from both of those things, and now pumping/feeding (if you’ve chosen to do so).
You also have a baby and possibly other children constantly in need of physical affection and care. You are… touched out! In other words, you may be feeling exhausted by the physical aspect of motherhood and the amount that your body is needed during this stage.
When it comes to sex, touch, or any type of physical intimacy with your partner, you may just not have the capacity. That’s both understandable and common but some couples may find it creates a distance that didn’t used to exist.
Just know that this is very common, and doesn’t mean anything bad about your relationship. It’s okay to let your partner know how you’re feeling too, and request a little bit more physical space when you need it. Some moms find that having some time, say after the kids go to bed, where they have a break from being touched can help them feel more open to physical intimacy later on.
One of my favourite resources for any kind of intimacy challenge is Vanessa and Xander Marin, their Instagram is great and you’ll find tons of tangible strategies to help with this.
We also know that for many moms, their desire for physical intimacy can tank when they don’t feel supported, or when they feel like the load of parenthood is unfairly divided. So, figuring out ways to share the load is also going to help in this area too.
#4 You feel unappreciated and unseen
From my years as a therapist, as well as witnessing not only myself but women and couples around me and in my community, I can confidently say that most moms feel unappreciated, unseen, and even taken for granted at some point.
If you spend time online and in mom communities, you’ll likely have heard about “the invisible load of motherhood.” This refers to the mental and emotional labour that mothers are more likely to take on. That’s the planning, thinking, worrying, logistics managing, and caring that you do for your family. Because all this deciphering, anticipating and problem solving exists in your own private thoughts, it’s not outwardly visible and therefore largely goes unseen.
Just pause to think about your week so far, and all the things you’ve managed. How much is happening internally, where an outsider might not even notice? For moms who are at home with kids, they sometimes get to the end of the day knowing they’ve worked hard all day but yet wracking their brains to pinpoint what they actually accomplished. What’s worse is the (unfair) question: “What did you do all day?” But here’s the thing: childcare is a lot. The meal planning, anticipating needs before they happen, managing big emotions (toddler meltdown, anyone?), managing what feels like a thousand logistics each day, and just generally always being one step ahead… it’s a lot.
Parents can also go through phases of just getting by. They stop expressing appreciation and gratitude towards one another or take one another’s contributions for granted. When we feel like our efforts are unseen and unappreciated, it can leave us feeling very alone in our experience. And understandably resentful towards our partner.
#5 You’re completely drained and exhausted
This is a pretty obvious reason why you might be dealing with relationship problems after having a baby but one worth noting. You’re straight up exhausted!
If you’re running on fumes, tired beyond belief and both mentally and physically drained, tensions can run high. Your nervous system is also totally out of whack! A tired brain can really compromise our days because you don’t have the same cognitive ability to problem solve and communicate.
When tired, smaller things can also feel big. Instances that may not upset you under normal circumstances can suddenly cause a major fight. Instead of thinking that you’re doomed or that you’re headed for divorce, try to reason with yourself here. Imagine the stress you could let go of if you were able to reframe this kind of tension and understand that the months after a baby are just plain hard! For you and your partner. It won’t always feel this way.
Not all stages in life are created equally. Although it might be unsettling to confront certain changes that can feel uncomfortable or hard to adjust to, your experience in motherhood will be easier emotionally if you allow some flexibility.
Can you allow for some chapters to just bring new challenges without catastrophizing or feeling like you have to erase the issues asap? (I.e. “I want a divorce!”) Most couples (67% in fact) say their relationship satisfaction tanks for 3 years post kids, so can you hang in there and work on what you can control in the meantime? Can you accept that certain areas of life won’t look as they did in the past while remaining curious about what’s waiting for you just around the corner, or what small changes you could make today that would help you feel a bit more connected?
Want to learn more from me about this topic?
This is of course a tricky one to manage and it can feel easier said than done. Most relationships go through some kind of turbulence when a new baby arrives and there can be a lot of guilt, shame, fear, and discouragement when that happens.
For that reason, I created my course, How To Share The Load Of Parenting. So many couples struggle and yet NO ONE talks about it! If you’ve related to the themes touched on in this blog post, this course is like your guide to iron out the little bumps and snags that are occurring in your relationship before they fester into a major issue. In this self-paced course you will learn to identify issues and communicate them more effectively as well as parent in a way that’s fair and aligned to your values and lifestyle.
Sometimes you just need a quick solution!Below are 15 quick tools that can be done in five minutes for the moments when mom anxiety is getting the best of you.
No matter what stage of motherhood you’re at, you’re probably well acquainted with feeling anxiety from time to time. Something like a late school drop-off can ruin the morning. A toddler temper tantrum in the grocery store could easily throw your nervous system out of whack all afternoon and leave you feeling as though you’ve lost the day. Increased heart rate, feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities, intrusive thoughts, anger and irritation… these are just some of the most common symptoms of anxiety.
Or, maybe you often notice yourself feeling just generally on-edge, uneasy, and unable to soothe anxious feelings. While there are so many logical reasons for that (your world has just changed, mama bear instincts are kicking in, there’s way more for you to do), sometimes you just need a solution. Immediately.
You can always spend time digging into anxiety and learning its roots, your personal triggers, and why you may be more prone to something like postpartum anxiety. In fact, that’s homework and research you probably should do for personal growth reasons and better self understanding. Education is the first step towards empowerment. And truthfully, there are no quick magic fixes for anxiety that will work for everyone.
But sometimes you also just need instant tools to self-soothe now. When your anxiety is outside of the window of what feels tolerable, it’s interrupting your day. That uncomfortable, heart-pounding, unable-to-calm-down feeling can get in the way of caring for your family, work, enjoying moments with loved ones, and other elements of your daily routine.
Below are 15 quick strategies that can be done in five minutes for the moments when anxiety is getting the best of you. Feel free to try some, a couple, or all until you feel yourself coming down from a highly anxious state.
15 ways to ease anxiety in less than 5 minutes
1. Turn on some calming music.
Music can have such a powerful impact on our mood. Whether your jam is calming classical, uplifting folk, or Latin party music that you can seriously dance it out to, this is something that’s always available. Try having it on in the background, or closing the door and fully engaging one of your senses (hearing) in the melody so as to shut out stressors until you’re grounded.
2. Make yourself a hot drink.
There’s something so calming about a hot cup of tea or cocoa. When you feel out of control or anxious, turn on the kettle and pick something like an herbal tea with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Chamomile, valerian root and lavender are all known for their calming effects. Steer clear of coffee or cappuccinos here as the caffeine will only spike your heart rate and ramp up anxiety.
3. Try some breathing techniques.
When we actively want to bring ourselves back to that calm, tolerable state, breathwork is one of the best ways to do it. Box breathing looks like inhaling slowly for four seconds, holding for four, exhaling for four more seconds, and holding for the same amount of time. Or, simply focus on taking as many slow deep breaths as necessary until you start to calm down. The reason why this is so effective is because your body cannot be in a calm state and an anxious state at the same time. Breathwork is the best way to regulate your nervous system by telling your brain that you’re safe.
4. Get some fresh air.
Going off of that last point, if you can take some breaths of fresh air, do so. What scents of nearby flowers and trees can you notice?
5. Go outdoors.
All it takes is a few moments to stop what you’re doing and step outside for a bit. (If you have space in your day, try going for even a 20-minute walk.) Being in nature and taking in the relaxing scenery of a forest, the pleasant feeling of sun on your skin, and hearing rain drops or the calming trickle of a stream are known factors that improve mental health and reduce issues like anxiety and depression. See what five minutes can do for you. If you have more time, amazing!
6. Positive self-talk.
The way we talk to ourselves matters so much. When you’re in the middle of a panic attack or feeling an intense wave of anxiety, you may unknowingly be contributing to that with thoughts like, “Omg I’m not feeling well! What’s wrong with me?” or “I’m so nervous right now.This is going to derail my day!” Instead try something like, “This is no biggie, I’ve got this!” or, “I’m feeling some strong anxiety right now. I’m going to lower my expectations for the day and get through this the best I can.” Even something like, “I’m going to focus on bringing myself back to a manageable state, and then I’ll tackle whatever’s next once I’m there,” is a compassionate way to take it one step at a time.
7. Engage your sense of smell.
It could be a smart idea to create a little SOS stash of scented lotions, essential oils and candles. Scents—particularly calming ones like lavender, eucalyptus and rose—can calm the body and the mind. Engage just that sense for five minutes and let the rest fade to the background.
Both hustle culture and diet culture tend to hype up the workout and make it into something that feels intimidating or not feasible for our lifestyles. When things like running at the crack of dawn or intense weight loss boot camps hog the conversation, we leave out things like movement for the benefit of mental health. Roller skating around the block, a mini dance party in your kitchen or cycling to the grocery store or nearest park aren’t vigorous activities and they can still be so beneficial and help quell anxiety.
I know you’ve heard this a million times, but that’s because this is one of the most common techniques for anxiety reduction because it truly works. It doesn’t have to be done at dawn nor does it have to look perfectly zen. Find the meditation that works for you. The purpose is to be in the moment, engaged, and not attached to thoughts or stressors for five minutes. You could even meditate while drinking your morning coffee, or rocking your baby to sleep. It’s about being fully present to the moment you’re in.
10. Talk it out.
The power of words and naming an emotion can be so very healing. Articulating whatever is stressing you out to someone who will see you, understand you and validate what you’re going through can help. If a friend or your partner aren’t available, try voice notes. Some people who tend to process emotionally may even find audio journaling helps. No need to listen to it later if you don’t want to.
11. A hot shower (or something soothing).
Sometimes when mom anxiety strikes, you just have to walk away from a situation (not an emergent or dangerous one obviously) and take some time and space for you to self-soothe. Sure, it’s unrealistic to aim for a regular Saturday afternoon at the spa, but you can ask your partner to take over a situation while you jump in a hot shower for five or ten minutes. Any moment that you can take where you give your nervous system a chance to settle will be helpful.
12. Watch happy videos.
Seriously, save those adorable and silly dog videos on Instagram and pull them up during a moment of need. Instagram can be a negative thing for anxiety but it also can be used as a tool to help soothe it. You curate your experience. You get a very real dopamine hit when you see sweet or cute moments, so might as well tap into that.
We’re not meant to be “on” all the time. If you’re in a state where you’re suffering from high anxiety, ask yourself which stimulators need to be silenced. That could very well start with your phone. Something as simple as switching your phone to airplane mode means that you’re prioritizing your wellbeing for the moment instead of engaging with stressful messages, notifications, Instagram accounts, and doom scrolling.
14. Observe something out the window.
Whatever is causing your mom-anxiety, the idea is to not focus on it for five minutes (at least). Otherwise, you can start a ruminating spiral. If you catch yourself in worried repetitive thoughts, can you look out the window and focus on trees swaying in the breeze, people watching, or watching the birds instead? Pulling the attention away can prevent spiralling. This is a simple mindful moment where you give yourself some reprieve from the stress.
15. Tidy your space.
Our spaces can sway our mood and mental health. No, you don’t have to deep clean the entire house, but taking five minutes to tackle the pile of dishes from last night or the mound of clothes on the chair is a way to bring more ease to your space and have things feeling less chaotic. Plus you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and get your mind off things for a hot minute!
These are a few SOS tools you lean on in the moment when your heart rate is up and you just can’t seem to get into a calm state. Which ones worked the best for you?
If you want to better understand symptoms of anxiety and how to get to the bottom of it, I have a FREE masterclass all about mom-anxiety that’s a great place to start. You can grab that here.
Intrusive thinking in motherhood is a pretty common issue. Here’s how to put them in their place…
I get it. Intrusive thoughts in motherhood are so annoying, right? You’re just here minding your own business trying to live your life and bang, an intrusive thought pops into your mind! You know the ones…
“What if I step out of the shower and there’s an intruder right there?”
“I’m travelling but—yikes—I’m imagining my plane going down!!”
“This balcony is so high up. What if I accidentally fall off?”
“My kid is just so vulnerable. I keep thinking about what would happen if he chokes, gets in an accident in gym class or gets really sick.”
“My partner hasn’t called. Why am I automatically assuming it’s because he’s in the hospital?”
Intrusive thoughts are those weird, scary, and unwanted thoughts that pop into our mind for no apparent reason. At best, they can be a little… odd. (I.e. “What the heck was that thought about!? Why did I just think that? So weird.”) At worst they can be disturbing, draining and impact how you live your day-to-day life. (I.e. “OMG! How terrifying. Just in case that thought comes true, I’m going to avoid X and Y. That’ll solve it! Also, what if that was a premonition!? Now I’m terrified.”)
Ok, if you’ve been in my community for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about intrusive thoughts on Instagram, here on the blog, you’ve read about it in my newsletter, or you’ve watched my workshop. (*Hint, hint* Yes, there’s a workshop, this is like an on-demand crash course in managing anxious, worried thinking, and sure I may be biased, but I think it’s a great tool. Check it out here my friend!) This is a common phenomenon in motherhood and it’s also an important one. That’s why I’m basically creating so much content around it. Education is key and so is proper anxiety management.
If you’re just learning about intrusive thoughts for the first time, or came across this blog without having seen my previous content breaking down all the need-to-know information on this topic, consider the below your intrusive thoughts 101 guide.
Study up! Knowledge is power, seriously. The more you know about a problem, the better able you’ll be to fix it. Remember: you don’t know what you don’t know. If you’re not aware of what the problem is, why it’s happening, and what it *really* means, how are you supposed to get to the root of it? When you become better informed, you enable yourself to become an expert on your story and rewrite a different ending. You don’t have to struggle with this. You can totally get to a place where you see intrusive thoughts for what they are: weird thoughts that stem from the basic anxiety most of us experience in motherhood.
They don’t mean anything about you, seriously. (I’m sure!) Brains are just… strange. Think about how you wouldn’t judge yourself for a wildly illogical dream. You’d probably just wake up in the morning and just think, “Well that was a super weird dream. Kinda crazy what my brain comes up with while I’m asleep! Anyways… now coffee.” See how you’d probably pause for a moment and think, “Hmm, ok whatever,” and then move on with your day as per usual? You can do the same with intrusive thoughts.
The trick is to put them in their place as they pop up. Get sassy with them! Give them a little attitude! Push back! You’ve got this. Not sure where to start? Some mamas in the community told me how they do it. Honestly, I had to laugh at some of these. Sometimes, humour can really be the best therapy…
How moms shut down intrusive thoughts: Community real talk
I say “swish, swish,” and pretend to throw it over my shoulder
I say, oh I see what’s happening here… anxiety is trying to get the best of me
I label it and intrusive, focus on something else and refuse to dwell on it
I silently scream, put my hands over my ears and say *la, la, la, can’t hear you!*
I recite baking recipes I’ve memorised. Seriously.
I remember that thoughts are just thoughts
I say hey there anxiety, f*** off!
Hey brain, thanks for preparing me, I’ve got this though
I remind myself that it’s all good but we don’t need to think about this now
I give it a silly name like Darius or Horatio and then I say, “Cool Darius, but no one cares.”
I remind myself that thoughts are not facts
I tell my brain to quit being an a**hole
I physically shake my head as I picture shaking the thoughts away
I visualize throwing these kinds of thoughts in the trash
I remind myself that thoughts are powerless unless I give them permission not to be
I shake my head and say, “Hey brain, why are you being such a f***head?”
I pretend they’re popups and just mentally click them away
I remember that I’m just tired or a bit stressed
I say, hey brain, that’s not a threat right now
I tell the thought, please stop and just go away!
I pretend to collect it in my hand and then I flush it down the toilet