How to Help a Mom in the Trenches
To all the new moms, experienced moms, twin moms, singleton moms, enough kids to fill a soccer team moms, teen moms, “old” moms, grieving moms, joyful moms, foster moms — whatever kind of mom you are, this post is for you.
If you’re exhausted, overwhelmed, malnourished, sleep deprived, happy, sad, anxious, panicked, elated, the happiest you’ve ever been, the most confused you’ve ever been, angry, irritable etc. etc. etc. you are not alone.
But sometimes knowing that is not enough. If you’re unsure how to help yourself if you are struggling as a mom, or how to help someone you know who is struggling, try this.
3 Ways to Help a New Mom
1) If you’re a mom yourself
Do NOT be afraid to speak to someone other than a friend/family member/GP. It is amazing to be able to share the load with another mom in the trenches, but it doesn’t stop your feelings from happening.
There are some amazing Maternal Mental Health Therapists out there that specifically focus on understanding and dealing with the emotional insanity that is motherhood. These professionals are trained to teach you coping skills and trigger identifiers.
(In Toronto? Feel free to email me for a list of counselors.)
2) If you are a close friend/family member
Try changing your phrasing from, “Do you need help?” to “HOW can I help?” It is amazing what that sentence can accomplish when you give a mom and open-ended question vs. yes or no. A lot of us are pretty terrible at admitting we need help nevermind accepting it. (Seriously, if both twins were screaming their faces off, dinner was on fire, and I had poop smeared on my face and someone asked me if I NEEDED help, guaranteed I would say, “No, no, I’m good.” as I accidentally doused the stove flames with 8oz of breastmilk that took me 3 days to pump.)
3) If you’re a visitor of any kind
Please please please, respect the schedule. Whether it’s nap time, meal time, boob time, bath time, or just “happy awake window” time, don’t mess with a mom’s schedule. Show up on time and leave on time. Some of us live by wake windows, and naps are precious.
You’re not in this alone. A lot of days it will feel like it but, trust me, you’re not. It’s important to try your best to communicate your feelings to a family member, spouse, friend, health care provider, therapist, or other moms. Hell, talk to your pet if it helps you to process your feelings.
We’re all in different stages of the same experience, and those stages bring good and bad, difficult and more difficult, confusing and overwhelming feelings and events. Take it one day at a time, and don’t worry if you have some really really bad days.
Lots of love,