Why Do I Hate My Husband After Having A Baby?

Why Do I Hate My Husband After Having A Baby?

I’ve always appreciated the privacy of our inner experience. That running narrative that (thank goodness) only we can hear. During the early years of motherhood, I became especially grateful that I had an “inside voice” that only I had access to.

I remember pacing through my house during those never-ending days, anxiety-filled nights and inconsolable moments with our babies where all I could hear was “I hate you” looping through my mind. I heard it when I woke up sleep deprived with dirty diapers waiting for me. It was there when our kids were cranky and hungry. It was there at 5:00 p.m. as others’ work days were coming to a close while mine had no end in sight. “I hate you,” was such a common phrase in my internal dialogue. And no, I wasn’t talking about the screaming baby. 

I was talking about my husband. 

I remember the shock of even having these thoughts, followed by worry that they might actually be true. “Is it normal to hate my husband after a baby?” I’d wonder to myself in silence after those rage-y moments. How could I go from loving someone so much, creating little human beings with that person, and then suddenly having such an angry inner dialogue about them? I remember the littlest things would set me off, like if he breathed too loud or left his coffee mug on the counter. I was oozing with anger. 

The pre-kids version of myself would have thought, “Yikes, what’s with her? Why all the anger?”

But as a mental health therapist for moms and someone with that much-needed perspective, I know better now. I know that suddenly feeling like you hate your partner after having a baby is much more common than you might think. “Why do I hate my husband or partner after having my baby?” is a question I seriously get alllll the time. A lot of this comes from feeling as though you’re the one always doing the heavy lifting. 

Here’s the thing: having children is one of the most stressful things a couple can experience. Research shows that most couples’ relationship satisfaction tanks for a few years after kids enter the picture. The Gottman Institute, a jackpot of research for this season of life, found that 67% of couples experienced an extreme drop-off in relationship satisfaction in the first three years of their child’s life. Now I get that this could sound pessimistic, but my hope is that you exhale knowing that you’re not the only one sitting with a whole lot of negativity and disconnection. It’s not just you and these feelings don’t necessarily mean anything “bad” about your relationship.  

I hear similar versions of my experience all the time. Moms share things like: “Everything they do irritates me,” “I can’t even make eye contact with them,” “I’m not sure if I love him anymore,” or “I can’t stand to be in the same room.”

These thoughts can be alarming and make you question your relationship. But just know that there are likely underlying reasons that these intense emotions are bubbling up. Usually, anger is like the tip of the iceberg: there’s always way more going on under the surface. 

Why Do I Hate My Husband/Partner After Having A Baby? 

Why the sudden anger? 

We know that parents with young kids have an incredible amount of responsibility, new roles, endless household tasks, identity shifts and major lifestyle changes that impact the relationship in profound ways. It’s quite possibly the biggest change you’ll ever go through! So much so that parents often talk about “before kids” and “after kids” as the biggest turning point in life. 

It goes without saying that having a baby can bring incredible joy, purpose, and love into your life, but let’s also acknowledge how much a mother lets go of once she moves into this new identity. This is often at the core of anxiety and depression: who am I, now? There’s this expectation that a mother’s identity should seamlessly morph from an independent woman into a completely self-sacrificing mother as soon as her child is born. But it doesn’t work like that. She’s still that woman. She’s still herself. She still has needs that are worthy of her energy.  

And she’s freaking mad when there’s no longer room for her. 

I recently stumbled across a quote that will forever live in my back pocket: Eve Rodsky, in her book Fair Play, stated: “Resentment grows out of perceived unfairness.” Is it possible that the simmering anger you’re experiencing stems from feeling like everything is on you now? That possibly the division of parenting and household responsibilities isn’t feeling fair?

It’s not just a feeling, it’s the reality for most families. Research shows that mothers are still doing a disproportionate amount of household related work, as well as the bulk of the invisible and mental labor like planning, organizing, preparing, even when both of you are income earners. I stumbled across a recent SELF article which put numbers to this issue in a way I felt hit home: a 2015 study that looked at 182 heterosexual first-time parent partnerships found that women picked up an average of 37 hours of childcare and household-related work each week. That differed from 24 hours for the men. Anecdotally, this feels so common.

You’re fuming because you’re holding too much. 

You’re raging inside (and maybe outside) because you can’t seem to figure out how moms actually do it all. It feels impossible. And you wonder why this feels so much harder for you. 

You witness your partner experiencing mental freedom, alone time, fun, focus. Things that aren’t really part of your world anymore. Your time feels unimportant. You’re so busy but feel like there’s nothing to show for your hard work at the end of the day. And your workday never seems to end.

It makes so much sense that you’re mad.

What I see clearly in my counselling practice (and with the clarity of personal hindsight) is that “mom-rage” or that shockingly nasty inner dialogue is often a result of unmet needs, and an unsustainable amount of responsibilities weighing on you. Usually, the way through this is to find more support, balance, fairness, and validation within your relationship. 

While it’s perfectly normal to feel anger from time to time (you’re human after all), long-standing resentment and steady dissatisfaction in your relationship has serious costs. It begins to chip away at your connection, your joy, and what you hoped this season of your life would feel like. These small bursts of anger or steadily-growing resentment add up over time. 

Luckily, I found my way back to myself. We learned how to parent together. My hateful inner dialogue silenced (mostly!). It’s possible, I swear.

Wait a sec! Are you resonating with this story? If you’re ready to dig a little deeper and find a way through this anger, I’ve created an online mini-course that leads you (and your partner) back to connection, healthy communication, and a sense of fairness in your relationship. Is this feeling like a fit for where you’re at in life right now? If so, you can learn more about the program here.

They Told Me Motherhood Would Be The Best Time of My Life … I Wasn’t Always Convinced

They Told Me Motherhood Would Be The Best Time of My Life … I Wasn’t Always Convinced

They Told Me Motherhood Would Be The Best Time of My Life … I Wasn’t Always Convinced

written by Kate Borsato

It’s normal to question how these could be the best days of your life. Because ultimately, there’s no phase in life that’s all good, or all bad. Most things have a shadow, that’s just life.

Originally published in Island Parent Magazine, (March 2020).

What goes through your mind when someone says “don’t blink, these are the best days of your life”?  

 

I’ve heard this adage a few times over, actually. First as a child, where adults told me how easy it was being me, with no responsibilities or concerns. No bills or a job to think about. 

 

Easy? I questioned. It didn’t feel easy. 

 

In my young mind, I had a lot of worries that felt big! Like would anyone notice that I only had one cool pair of flared jeans… that used to be my sister’s? How embarrassing. Or what if no one asked me to slow dance and I just stood in the corner feeling like a loser? Or would I make a total fool of myself during my presentation the next day? I had a lot of worries. Adulthood looked pretty cool to be honest. 

.

“The idea that I was possibly living the “best days of my life” then was a little disturbing for me.”

Then people told me during my university years to “soak it up, because these are the best days of your life!” and I remember thinking, “huh, is this it?” Now quite frankly, I loved living in dorms with all my friends, eating cereal for dinner, skipping the odd class because I just didn’t feel like going, calling my parents when I needed a little cash (OK a lot of cash… I had zero dollars to my name). I loved university. Adult freedom with little actual responsibility? Yes please!

But even still, the idea that I was possibly living the “best days of my life” was a little disturbing for me. Did this mean it would all go downhill from that point on? And what if I had a bad day? (which I had many). What if I screwed up? (which I often did). These couldn’t possibly be the best days, so what was I doing it wrong?

“I remember those early days of motherhood very well, and even a few years later my memory hasn’t erased the tough times.”

And then the big one came: I had a baby.

Now this, more than any other time, was supposed to be the ultimate best time of my life. This would surely take the cake. At least that’s what literally everyone told me (except other new moms who seemed to stay eerily quiet on that matter).

I knew how fortunate I was to get pregnant, to have healthy children, to have support around me. I was genuinely grateful.

But I remember those early days of motherhood very well, and even a few years later my memory hasn’t erased the tough times like more seasoned moms promise will happen eventually. In fact, my mom tells me she doesn’t remember it being that hard at all. Mother nature does sweet favours for us, doesn’t she? My mother, after all, had three under three (#superhero), she must have had a day every now and again!

But right now, I still remember.

I remember the early days that I now refer to in a joking-not-joking way as the “dark days.” Those blurry couple years where I felt shocked. In pain. Desperately sleep-deprived. Like I had gone through some kind of personality change (or more like my personality was replaced with a vapid haze of weepy-overcaffeinated-nothingness).

Life felt day by day. Moment by moment. Survival.

My mind reminded me over and over again that I should be grateful. I should enjoy this. These are the best days of my life; don’t miss them! Write it all down, savour it! But what was I doing wrong, then? Why didn’t I feel like I was supposed to feel? Am I getting ripped off here?

With the beauty of hindsight, I can already see the balance that I certainly did not feel at that time. I can remember that new feeling of pride that would swell as I witnessed my daughters learn and grow. The joy sprinkled here and there. The giggles. The snuggles. The simple pleasures that I never truly appreciated before, like a freshly poured (not microwaved) coffee and the sound of a quiet house.

“It’s normal for parents to miss their lives pre-kids… It’s normal to question how these could be the best days of your life.”

And as I support new mothers today, their words jog my memory even further. I hear their pain alongside simple moments of joy. I hear their disappointment that motherhood wasn’t what they expected. Their acknowledgement that they don’t love everything about it. Their courage to say that these might not be the best days of their lives. And quite honestly, I feel this sense of collective shame that builds alongside the honesty. This part of us that wonders: “Is it OK if I don’t like everything about this?”

When we hear messages about what’s “normal” that fall outside our personal experience, we have to find a way to reconcile the difference. We can’t help but believe the messages we hear from society. And so, when our experiences don’t line up with what we expected, we often conclude “I’m not normal” or “I’m not good at this” or “there’s something wrong with me” when in fact, we might be feeling something that most other parents feel too. Maybe we aren’t doing this wrong after all.

Most parents have some incredibly difficult times with their kids. Most parents have moments where they feel like they don’t know what they’re doing. It’s normal for parents to miss their life pre-kids, to miss their career, their identity, their freedom, their sleep. It’s normal to feel frustrated, discouraged, exhausted. It’s normal to question how these could be the best days of your life.

“What if, during your darkest days, you could expand your awareness to also notice your encounters with ease and joy?”

Because ultimately, there’s no phase in life that’s all good, or all bad. Most things have a shadow, that’s just life. Maybe our challenge is to accept the grey-ness rather than searching for black and white? So what if you allowed yourself to acknowledge how hard these days can be, without judging yourself for it and without taking on guilt?

And what if, during your darkest days, you could expand your awareness to also notice your encounters with ease, joy, and fun, no matter how brief they seem? Remembering that every day brings a whole mixture of emotions. Can you look for the joy, seek it out, go find it? Can you give more energy to it when it happens, make it bigger, soak it in?

There’ll be times in life when we can’t necessarily change the situation, but we can always shift our mindset. We can shine our awareness in new areas. We can give ourselves compassion. We can allow ourselves to show up and experience life exactly as it truly is without telling ourselves that we’re not good enough or that we’re doing it wrong.

And hopefully, there’ll be times when we can find the silver lining somewhere in those dark days. In fact, many people who go through difficult life experiences go on to say they wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. They grew from it. It became part of their tapestry, their life story. So even during these phases and stages of parenting that bring about incredible challenges, I wonder how they’ll change you? How they’ll help you grow, and shift and transform into an even better version of you? You might not look back to say these were the best days of your life, but you’ll probably look back with a grateful smile, not trading those memories for anything.

xox

Kate

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KATE BORSATO
Kate is a counsellor, a parent, and a writer who supports parents to create more fulfilling lives! Focused on relationships, parenting, and connection to self, Kate shares articles, free resources, and online courses for parents who are looking to live heart-centered, balanced, and connected lives.
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10 Realistic Ways for Moms to Manage Anxiety

10 Realistic Ways for Moms to Manage Anxiety

Anxiety is hard to sit with, I understand that uncomfortably jittery feeling. At best, anxiety tends to put a little damper on your day. At worst, well, it can derail your schedule, your wellness and your balance for extended periods of time. 

If you’re even the slightest bit anxiety prone, months of quarantine has probably done zero favours for your mental health. I get it. At best, anxiety tends to put a little damper on your day. At worst, well, it can derail your schedule, your wellness and your balance for extended periods of time. It’s so common that moms of young children and women in the perinatal phase suffer from anxiety (yes, it’s normal!).

As a mental therapist, I have a number of effective tools and strategies to help you kick anxiety in the butt… especially during this jittery and uncertain period in time.

But before breaking it down, let’s pause for a minute and remember that transitioning into motherhood is a difficult and oftentimes nerve wracking time. Most women struggle to an extent—that’s to be expected.

The good news though: despite what your favourite Instagram accounts might have you thinking, you don’t need to commit to long-term therapy or a massive self-improvement plan. Below, I’m breaking down simple and easily approachable ways to manage bouts of anxiety.

What is anxiety?

In recent years, it kind of feels like “anxiety” became everyone’s go-to term. It IS a common mental health issue and our modern society is a great contributor. But when we hear our loved ones say things like “I have so much anxiety this week,” or “This work-from-home arrangement is making my anxiety worse,” what does that actually mean?? How does anxiety look for each of us and how can we recognize when our own anxiety is at work?

Anxiety can take many forms. It can feel like dread, uncertainty, worry, nagging fear, confusion or queasiness. It is SUPER common in pregnancy and earlier motherhood too. You might notice shallow breathing, a quickening pulse or that cold sweaty feeling. This sort of unease can become an issue where some individuals notice that it’s getting in the way of life, preventing them from working as they intend to or interfering with their ability to feel well. In that case, it could be an anxiety disorder which is worth professional attention. In other cases, which I’m addressing here, there are simple tactics you can employ to put anxiety in its place.

So, how can we begin to wrap our arms around anxiety? Of my ten tips below, hopefully a handful will resonate with you.

Be a detective. 

This is my way of saying: look at your life and pay close attention to what might be triggering your anxiety right now. Does it fluctuate? (I.e. sometimes it’s bad, other times it eases up.) What do you suspect makes it worse? What makes it more difficult to deal with? Once you look closely, you might be able to catch the culprits and in turn, grant yourself some peace.

Nourish your body.

Yes, this is a mental health discussion but your physical health plays a significant role in supporting your mind. Take care of your body! We know that the parts of the body are all connected so watch how you’re caring for your physical self. That means being mindful of what you’re eating, making sure you’re eating enough, slowing down when it’s meal time, staying hydrated… the whole thing!

As a mom, you’ve probably had to really tune into your physical self in recent years. You know which foods make you feel good and which ones… don’t. Ask yourself if there are small things you can do on a day-to-day basis to improve your nourishment overall.

Watch the caffeine.

Caffeine worsens anxiety. Chances are, you already knew that. If you didn’t, sorry to burst your caffeine bubble! As with anything, some people are more sensitive than others. So… watch your caffeine and how it makes you feel. If your wave of anxiety came after two or three strongly-brewed Americanos, it may be a sign you need to reduce.

Once we pay attention to how our coffee affects our mood, we can make necessary changes. And if you’ve been anxious lately, reducing caffeine will only ease symptoms.

Do something for yourself. 

I understand that this one can feel hard. Think about the mothers in your life. How many of them give more time to others than they do to themselves? All of them? Here’s the thing: it can be tempting to always focus on your family, but you have needs too. Don’t forget about those. Take a moment and reflect on what those needs might be.

There’s probably an activity you’ve been meaning to do, a hobby you’ve been wanting to reacquaint yourself with or maybe it’s just something simple like calling up an old friend or listening to that album that really takes you back. Check in with yourself and commit to doing one thing just for you!

Watch your self talk. 

We all have an inner critic and she tends to especially come out when we’re tired, run down or anxious. The inner critic is that nasty little voice that cuts you down, tells you you’re not good enough, suggests you’re not measuring up or that you’re not doing a good job (at mothering or otherwise). It’s so easy for new moms to give power to this inner critic because when going through major and important life changes, there’s so much opportunity to feel inadequate. Here’s the problem: these criticisms make you feel attacked. When attacked, you go into flight-or-fight mode and your nervous system becomes stimulated. It’s not good to be in that mode all the time.

Self kindness actually reduces anxiety so to silence that inner critic, think of a neutral statement to counter what she’s saying. For example, instead of saying “I failed as a mom today,” try “I had some challenges today and I did my best.”

Move your body. 

This piece of advice can be mildly annoying, I know.

But it’s also true.

Yes, exercise is important but that doesn’t mean you have to run a half-marathon. Any type of movement will do! Choose something you actually enjoy or you’ll never bother to actually do it. That can be an evening wind-down yoga routine, a dance session or a walk with your best friend. Make it easy, reasonable and realistic.

Prioritize sleep! 

It’s funny how something that requires literally no energy is often the thing we struggle with the most. For many moms, prioritizing sleep is really hard. When the kids go to bed, it can be so tempting to stay up to maximize those alone-time evening hours. Here’s the problem: when we push back our own bedtime in favour of binge-watching that Netflix series or escaping with a really good book, we can end up sleep deprived. That worsens anxiety. If you’ve been feeling anxious, tighten up your sleep schedule temporarily to build your resources back up again.

Make anxiety your BFF.

OK, hear me out. Instead of noticing your anxiety, fighting it and getting upset about being anxious, try listening to it. Why are you feeling anxious? What’s your anxiety trying to tell you? There’s probably a message there. Imagine your anxiety is a friend of yours who is struggling.

Think about how you can provide support. When you stop resisting, you’ll stop adding tension to your situation. And when you accept anxiety instead of pushing it away, you can get to the root of what is causing it.

Do something soothing. 

Self-care isn’t just a trend that makes for good material on Instagram. When you’re experiencing high levels of anxiety, your body senses a threat and goes into fight-or-flight mode. This stimulates your nervous system (in a bad way) and so, you need to work to bring yourself back down to a relaxed state.

To do this, you want to pick an activity that is soothing for you and brings comfort. That could mean lighting candles and getting into a hot bath, making yourself a cup of hot chocolate or taking time to shut the door, wrap yourself in a cozy blanket and diffuse your favourite essential oils. These soothing activities are science-backed so next time you dismiss this stuff as selfish or frivolous, know that the opposite is actually true!

Take care of business.

Sometimes our anxiety likes to come out when our to-do list is just too long. When little day-to-day tasks start to pile up, we can start to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Overthinking is anxiety’s best friend.

When you actually set aside some time to “take care of business” or knock things off that list, it feels really good. Getting order back into your life is a smart and effective way to zap anxiety and keep it from spiralling out of control. Once you make a point to cross things off that list one by one, you’ll feel rewarded… and you’ll probably realize they weren’t even that big of a deal to begin with.

What have you been putting off? What task or project has been intimidating you? Making a dent in these types is likely to alleviate much of the anxiety you’re experiencing. Just don’t spend ALL your time on this stuff…

 


Anxiety is hard to sit with, I understand that uncomfortably jittery feeling. The good news is that there is so much that you can do to manage it. I see moms of young children struggling with feeling overburdened, not good enough and spread thin. To be fully honest, there are ways to feel in control and actually cruise through (and enjoy!) this journey in early motherhood. Trust me, I’ve been there.

 

 

Scary Thoughts In Pregnancy And Postpartum

Scary Thoughts In Pregnancy And Postpartum

During pregnancy and new motherhood, intrusive thoughts can take a lot of forms. Most frequently, they center around the idea of harm coming to your baby or kids.

Scary Thoughts In Pregnancy And Postpartum - Kate Borsato

Let’s be frank: motherhood is hard.

Adjusting during the postpartum phase is a huge challenge for most new moms. And I get that. My mission with my work is to support moms and moms-to-be with the really complicated stuff—and to actually keep it real and give you the truth, from a psychological perspective, unedited.

Because I believe in being honest with the facts, I’m talking to you about a sensitive, often not discussed topic: intrusive thoughts.

This is when unwanted or disturbing thoughts pop into your head. They can be unnerving and unsettling which is why I’m breaking down what these thoughts look like, why they happen, what to do about them, when to seek help and how to best preserve your mental space so that these scary thoughts become less prominent in your day-to-day life.

What are intrusive thoughts exactly?

Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts or images (usually about your baby or child) that pop into your mind seemingly out of nowhere.

They’re often disturbing or upsetting and they don’t align with what you want for your child. They just happen. It’s like they flash into your mind out of nowhere.

Because these thoughts are so dark and unsettling, we don’t often discuss them. I mean, I get it: imagining dropping your baby while changing her diaper doesn’t exactly make for light chit-chat over coffee. As a result, you probably have NO idea how common this is.

As a mental health therapist for moms, I have tons of anecdotal evidence of moms experiencing these scary thoughts. If you’re more of a concrete numbers person, consider that studies have turned up results indicating that 95 to 100% of mothers have experienced exactly this.

So what does that statistic mean then? If this kind of invasive mental imagery is this common, it means you’re not alone, you’re not crazy, you’re not losing your mind and you’re not a bad mom.

 

What’s Not Normal

 Just because something is common (like having random or weird thoughts) doesn’t mean that it impacts everyone the same way.

Some people have intrusive thoughts and are not bothered by the at all. They quickly move past them and barely even pause. 

Others (and maybe yourself) feel really upset and disturbed about their thoughts. The thoughts cause problems in their lives, make them feel more worried or scared, and are impacting their mental wellness. This isn’t something that all moms deal with and shouldn’t be dismissed as being “normal.” 

 I What do these thoughts often look like in postpartum?

During the postpartum season of motherhood, intrusive thoughts can take many forms. Most frequently, they center around the idea of harm coming to your baby or kids. A common theme could be that you, as the mom, is causing harm either intentionally, or by accident.

Here are the common themes that intrusive thoughts typically fall within, along with examples of each:

    • Sickness related. You’re scared your baby or toddler will be exposed to harmful bacteria or that you’ll contract the coronavirus and put them in harm’s way.
    • Centered around them getting hurt. You picture your child falling or getting in a car accident. Your imagination conjures up an incident where she harms herself with a utensil in the kitchen. You imagine dropping your baby and causing irreparable damage.
    • Thoughts around sexual abuse or molestation. You think about what would happen if you touched your baby inappropriately or what would happen if somebody else molested your child.
    • Harm that could come to you! Out of nowhere, you think about what would happen to your child if you got in a car crash or got sick with COVID and died.

What does this mean about me?

When these intrusive thoughts happen, so many women fear that it means something about them. There’s the thought, followed by internal dialogue about that thought… “What is wrong with me?”, “Am I mentally ill?”, “Could I be a danger to my kids?” 

When these thoughts are upsetting, distracting, or consuming, they can be a sign of anxiety. More specifically, intrusive thoughts can be a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder (which is an anxiety disorder). 

It’s important that you explore what’s underneath these kinds of thoughts, and get support with managing that. If anxiety is bubbling under the surface, then learning about how to manage anxiety in motherhood will be an important step. 

You can also talk to a perinatal mental health therapist about these symptoms to learn how to best manage them.

Do these thoughts mean something bad about me? 

The key thing to keep in mind is that these imagined scenarios are things that you don’t actually want to happen. That alone means that you’re NOT a risk to your family.

Many moms fear that these thoughts mean that they’re unsafe or that they might do something bad. But the thoughts themselves are not that powerful.

Ask yourself this: Are these thoughts in alignment with what I want? Would I be OK if this happened? Usually that’s a hard and solid NO. That’s why you find them so disturbing in the first place.

 

When should I seek help? 

Let’s pause there for a moment. If you ask yourself the above questions and you feel that you would be okay with these scenarios happening, or you want then to, that’s a medical emergency and you need to reach out for help. If this is the case, call 911, a doctor or a therapist. Feeling as though you actually want to harm your child or yourself is an indicator that you need support (Postpartum Support International or The Canadian Perinatal Wellness Collective are both great places to start).

If the unsettling scenarios that pop into your head are NOT what you want, then it’s more likely to be a symptom of anxiety. This doesn’t mean anything about you as a mom, and it doesn’t mean you’re dangerous or unsafe. 

If intrusive thinking is interrupting your day, becoming hard to manage, causing a lot of upset, or you’re having these kinds of dark thoughts all the time, then you deserve support. This kind of destructive imagery is unnerving, disturbing and it can be tough to live with and process. The good thing is that you absolutely can learn to shift your mind away from these thoughts. You definitely can heal from this but you shouldn’t expect to do this on your own.

 

What are ways to deal with intrusive thoughts?

I’ve written a more in-depth, comprehensive guide on intrusive thoughts linked here. For now, I’m going to walk you through a quick but effective step-by-step for managing these intrusive thoughts so you can get on with your life and enjoy your family.

 

Step 1: Learn About Intrusive Thoughts

The first thing you’re going to want to do is educate yourself about intrusive thoughts (which is what you’re doing right now). The more you can understand what is happening, the less alone and scared you will feel. Once you understand that your experience is quite common, you might find that your worries start to fade already.

Step 2. Avoid Making Meaning Out of Your Thoughts

The problem with intrusive thoughts is that so often we put weight and meaning into them. We think that they are significant and so we give them power. By putting energy into them (like believing them, or worrying about what they mean about us or the future), we make them worse.

If we have the thought and get scared (or think there’s something wrong with us!) it becomes harder to deal with. On the other hand, if we have the thought, take a breath, remember that it’s normal, recognize it as JUST a thought that doesn’t mean anything, you can start to take the power away from it. When we think “Yeah it’s just a thought, it doesn’t mean anything,” we take the power away. (I know it sounds easy but with practice, it gets easier…)

SO: you’re just witnessing the thought, you’re not going to add more meaning to it, you’re going to remind yourself that this is normal and that yes, you ARE a good mom despite this thought.

Step 3: Be In The Present

Next, focus your attention on being in the moment, which is essentially what mindfulness is all about. You see, you can’t be in two places at once. So if your mind is in the present moment, you can’t possibly be worrying about anything else.

So, try managing these unpleasant thoughts by turning your focus to the present moment, asking yourself: What am I seeing? What am I hearing? What am I reading?

It’s likely that the thoughts will come back, that’s normal! Just draw your attention back to the present moment. This is what mindfulness is all about and it may take some practice at the beginning. Sometimes you might need to change your scenery. Head to the backyard or a different room or pour yourself a cup of coffee and focus on that. The point is to put energy into whatever is happening right this second.

Another tip:

Be mindful of the content you expose yourself to. 

Now, more than ever, we need to be mindful of what we allow into our lives… and when! The news can create images that are disturbing and hard to shake. If that’s the case for you, limit it. Sometimes reading about or talking about others’ intrusive thoughts can be upsetting or can plant the seeds to make this intrusive thought phenomenon worse. Scary movies are, for obvious reasons, upsetting and can give your mind content to latch on to. You don’t have to welcome all of these images into your life right now.

Be aware of what makes your mental health worse—even more so during pandemic times—and create boundaries. It’s OK to be protective of yourself especially during pregnancy and postpartum. Remind yourself that it’s absolutely OK to say “No, I don’t want to watch that horror movie tonight,” or “No, I don’t want to watch the news today.” That’s just self care.

Give yourself permission to be clear about what’s allowed in… and what isn’t.

 

Ready to tackle anxiety?

If you’re ready to take the next step and learn how to mange underlying and persistent anxiety in motherhood, then take a look at this self-paced course, Mama Calm, I put together for this exact purpose.  A big part of this program focuses on managing intrusive thoughts. 

For much less than a dinner out, you can get access to all the info and skills you need to feel really confident with managing things like intrusive thoughts and anxiety. And most importantly, you can get back to feeling present and happy in this season of motherhood.

Click the image to learn more about how the program can help you. 

How To Make Self-Care Easy for Moms

How To Make Self-Care Easy for Moms

I think it’s important to shift the conversation so that what’s supposed to support your mental wellbeing doesn’t become a stressor. I want self care to be easy so that moms actually do it.

self care for moms

If you’re a mom or mom-to-be, I’m willing to bet that “self care” can be… a bit of a touchy subject.

Here’s my take: self-care is important, yes, but our approach has to be more down-to-earth so that self care becomes realistic (not just another source of stress).

As a mental health therapist, I think it’s important to shift the conversation so that what’s supposed to support your mental wellbeing doesn’t become a stressor. I want self care to be easy so that moms actually do it.

Let’s break this down…

What stops moms from practicing self care?

Your schedule is fully booked!

In my experience, I see that timing is the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of moms weaving proper self care into their lives.

Moms can’t find the time when it feels like a huge extra task on the to-do list. Self care can feel like another thing to stuff into an already full-to-the-brim day.

For moms struggling to find their groove in early motherhood, taking care of yourself feels like another thing you have to do. When you neglect it, it feels like another thing you’re NOT doing—and that can bring you down.

So many of us see the day slip by without taking a moment for ourselves.

Guilt.

Mom guilt has a tendency to rain on your parade and it certainly makes no exceptions for self care.

I’m going to say it loud and clear: taking care of your needs is not selfish. Taking time for yourself is not luxurious. Self care is not frivolous.

When you take care of yourself, you’re better able to become the mom you want to be. When you look after your needs, your partner benefits, your kids benefit. Everyone wins!

If this is something you’re struggling with because self care feels over-the-top, understand that you’ve been programmed to think that way. It’s not your fault that this is hard for you but I’m here to flip the script.

You matter so much. Your well-being affects others. You deserve your own attention, love and energy.

So, how should we define realistic self care? 

Making self care easy for moms is about simplifying what the concept means to begin with. I want to help you believe that self-care is realistic otherwise it’s never going to happen.

So what is self care, really?

This is your ability to meet your needs in all the different aspects of your life. We’re talking emotional, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual needs.

If we want to feel joy and ease, we must address our own needs so that we have the capacity to welcome those positive experiences. When we think of self care this way, we can understand that this isn’t something you only do when your kids are asleep or with the sitter.

So how can we start our realistic approach to taking proper care of ourselves? I’ve broken it down to three main parts.

Your Body

When thinking about self care for your body, think about all of your physical needs. You need proper nutrition, hydration, rest, comfort. You need some kind of exercise or movement (ideally every day, if you can).

When considering how to care for your body, ask yourself if there’s things you do for your kids that you neglect to do for yourself? I notice that moms often go to great lengths to prepare healthy meals for their kids, for example, but their own meals are a bit of an afterthought. And honestly, I’ve been there too, snacking on the kids leftovers. But why do we do this? What if you could also consider your own nutritional needs, for example? What impact would that have on you?

You might even ask yourself in this moment: what are some easy ways that I could take better care of my physical self? Jot a few ideas down, and remember, keep it super simple!

Your Mind

Taking care of your mind means making sure that your emotional and intellectual needs are met.

On the intellectual side, notice that you’re allowed to keep investing in your interests. You as a human being have the need to learn and grow! Being a mom shouldn’t put a stop to that. So what interests have you put aside? Anything you’ve been curious about? Any new hobbies you’d like to explore?

On the emotional side, it can be really helpful to check in with yourself daily by simply asking: “How am I doing? Where am I at?”

Notice what comes up when you ask that question. Listening to yourself is self care. Remember that.

And if you discover some emotions that are harder to sit with on your own, it might be a good time to reach out to a friend or a professional to support you.

Your Environment

Have you ever felt stressed out and then gone on a cleaning rampage and felt so much better afterwards?

Or maybe you redecorated your living room mantle, hung a couple pictures or bought a new house plant and suddenly your mood improved? Well, that’s no coincidence! Your surroundings influence your mood.

Think about the area in your home where you spend most of your time. Is there anything about that space that you need to change that would be a helpful gesture for yourself?

Think about what’s important to you, specifically (because we’re all different here!). Some people need a spotlessly clean room. Others need plants and natural elements in their personal space. Whether your thing is essential oils or candles isn’t what’s important. And it’s NOT about redecorating your whole house either.

What you’re aiming to do here is notice how your space affects you and then doing something small to bring comfort.

So, what ideas do you have? Is there something ease, free, and fun that you could do to revive your immediate surroundings?

 


 

I hope I’ve made self care less complicated and more realistic for you! Really, the goal is to simplify this concept so that meeting your own personal needs becomes less stressful and less of a burden on your already-busy life.

So what’s one thing that you’re going to do for self-care today? I’d love to know in comments below!

 

So You’re Not That Excited About Being Pregnant?

So You’re Not That Excited About Being Pregnant?

You have so much time during pregnancy and once your baby comes to develop a bond. You don’t have to be fully in love, fully excited or fully on board right away (looking for the video? Just scroll to the bottom!)

So you’re pregnant but you’re not exactly over-the-moon happy. You’re especially not as excited as you thought you would be. And to make matters worse, there’s a lot of self-judgement and questioning that comes with that. (“Why am I not thrilled? What’s wrong with me? Am I already a terrible mother?”)

 

You’re probably being especially critical of yourself, too. Not only are you not as happy as you thought you’d be, but now you’re also disappointed in yourself for not being super pumped.

 

That’s not a fun cycle…

 

As a mental health therapist for moms, I can say that this is one of the most common concerns I hear from women in early pregnancy. Seriously, I hear this all. the. time. It’s so normal. It’s so common. So let’s take a breather and dive into this.

 

What do my feelings mean?

 

First off, your feelings may be a surprise to you⁠—especially if you planned your pregnancy⁠—but they don’t mean anything. That’s right. Just because you’re not shouting from the rooftops doesn’t mean you’re bad and it certainly doesn’t mean anything bad about you.

 

Sure, you’re not ecstatic about your personal news at this moment however your feelings now say nothing about how you’ll be as a mother. So if this lackluster reaction has you convinced that you’re going to fail as a parent or that there’s something wrong with you, that’s not true at all.

 

Trust me.

 

Identify the expectation that has been placed on you. 

 

You’re feeling the mom guilt before your baby is even out of the womb. This is therefore a great time to examine that whole issue. Think about the expectations that have been placed on you that now have you feeling shame, guilt and self-criticism.

 

What does society assume of pregnant women? That you should be overjoyed. That you should be just so over-the-moon and giddy with planning your baby nursery. And if you don’t live up to that standard… what then?

 

Maybe you also haven’t heard other women voice these exact same feelings. Why? Probably out of fear of judgement… We tend to keep silent when we’re ashamed of whether or not our feelings make us “wrong” or “bad.”

 

But, like I said, this issue is way more common that you know. I hear this little “confessions” so many times over. None of these women are broken. None of them are doomed mothers.

 

Take a moment to think about how you are feeling. 

 

Try to stop worrying about what you’re not feeling and focus on what you are feeling. Some women feel stressed or nervous about the things that could go wrong. Maybe they heard of struggles from their friends and are worried of experiencing those same things. You might be wondering if everything is going to go according to plan. You might feel scared, numb… or even just indifferent.

 

Notice what’s coming up for you and what your concerns are. Keep in mind: you’re allowed to feel the way you feel. When you learn to stop judging yourself for those feelings, you can begin to process them.

 

You have months and months in your journey towards becoming a mother: Trust that excitement will build.

 

When you become pregnant, there’s a shift in your thinking. You know you’re pregnant but it can be hard to really identify with that. You don’t feel pregnant. It can be a hard change to fully understand or accept. Because you’re not yet connecting to that change, you don’t immediately feel the joy that you expected. That makes complete sense. There’s just a disconnect right now. And that’s okay!

 

I encourage women to recognize that there are still months and months in their journey to becoming a mother.

 

You have so much time during pregnancy and once your baby comes to develop a bond. You don’t have to be fully in love, fully excited or fully on board right away. Trust that energy and excitement will build! Right now, just experience your pregnancy and the resultant feelings as this phase of your life unfolds.

 

And remember: you’re not wrong, you’re not broken, this doesn’t indicate anything about you as a mom. This is so normal!

 

xox

Kate