Do you remember sitting at work, rubbing your expanded belly, and dreaming happily about the days when your baby would be here? Do you recall how excitedly you looked forward to staying home, free to love and cuddle the little darling to your heart’s content? Yeah, me too.
And then, reality hit.
All of those free moments when you planned to paint your nails, read some good books, or delve into a soap opera or two while the little one napped disappeared. Somehow piles of dirty dishes and overwhelming loads of laundry took their place…second only to the full 30 seconds that you stole to sneak in a shower. Remember how you then told yourself that in just a few short weeks, you’d have some freedom back when naps would become predictable…and long? Yup, been there, done that.
It’s a funny thing how life just never works out like you imagined it would. Oh the naps do develop into lengthy stretches, and they do become rather predictable. But by the time that happens, you’ve lost the romance that you once associated with motherhood. Instead of feeling fulfilled and peaceful with your life at home with the baby, you feel anything but. Days aren’t filled with purposeful teaching moments or easy rhythmic childhood banter. They are filled instead with moments of self-doubt, internal debates, and the occasional bit of self-loathing.
Underneath the layers of spit up and tousled hair is still that woman with the lofty ideals of raising her child the best way that she can. And if staying home with your baby is the way that makes you feel you are doing it best, then take heart – it can be done. It isn’t easy, but life never is. However, it is possible.
Throw Your Expectations out the Window
In order to survive the first year at home, you have to accept the fact that this is your life for the time being. Nope, it isn’t enchanting, relaxing, or even all that fun. But it is what it is, and it is also what you make it. No one is going to fault you for putting on a diaper backwards a time or two in a sleepy haze, nor are they going to even know if you skip the baby’s bath once or twice.
Let It Go
Your job during those first few weeks and months of Baby’s life is to take care of your baby. It isn’t to keep your home in tip-top shape or to cook chef-inspired meals from scratch. So stop putting so much pressure on yourself to do it all. And stop berating yourself for the laundry that you didn’t get to…it will still be there tomorrow.
Ask For Help
Repeat after me… ‘I don’t have to do it alone’. Chances are there are neighbors and family that would LOVE to cuddle your little miracle while you soak in a bath, catch some shut-eye, or just eat a meal before it turns ice cold. So stop being so independent and invite some help over. It will refresh you and remind you that you really can do this!
Change Your Mind
No, really. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh look at the world and a change in mindset to remind yourself why you are staying home. Make a list of why you chose to stay home and read it as many times as it takes. Be thankful that you get to witness all of your little one’s ‘firsts’. Remind yourself that every time your little one snuggles up next to you, he’s thanking you for being there. Repeat.
If you are determined to be home for the first year of your little one’s life, then it is altogether possible. Just remember to pat yourself on the back for your successes, enjoy the first giggle as much as the first tantrum, and most of all…breathe.