We asked mother-of-two Jo Hartley to share her perspective on what new mums can be thinking, but not necessarily saying, in those challenging early months.
The world takes on whole new dimensions when you become a parent. You lose sleep, a bit of hair and sometimes even the art of conversation. But just because us ladies aren’t talking, it doesn’t mean we’re not thinking. Here are some of the inner thoughts we have that we think you need to hear.
“Some days I can’t cope”
Some days are harder than others for new mums. Juggling new responsibilities, exhaustion, and steep learning curves effectively can be overwhelming and isolating. Some days sitting glued to the chair feeding only results in tears.
To help keep your partner afloat, reassure her that she’s doing a good job. Try to do helpful things around the house and insist on time with your baby while she enjoys time out.
Make sure that she’s fueling herself adequately (she’s likely forgetting to eat and drink) and be conscious to ask her about any ongoing extreme sadness which may require professional help.
“I want to go back to work”
For many mums, admitting we want to return to work weighs us down with a heavy sack of guilt.
We feel guilty admitting that we want time with grown-ups, away from our baby, and that the parenting ‘dream’ is not in line with the reality. It is hard to express that some days parenting can be downright boring.
Talk to your partner about her future plans for work and reassure her that there’s no shame in wanting your independence (most of which you lose when you become a mum). Empathise that being solely responsible for your baby is a hard full-time job and wanting time away is only human.
Be equally as supportive if she wants to stay home.
“I love you more now you’re a dad”
There’s nothing that melts our hearts more than seeing you with our baby, even if we aren’t always quick to tell you guys. In the groundhog cycle of feeding, patting, changing and rocking, communication can easily get lost.
But every cuddle you give, every song you sing, every change you do and every smile you share, fills our hearts with love.
Seeing you as a committed and doting dad, cements our love for you more than ever. We may not say it, but if you catch that dreamy look in our eye as we watch you, the chances are we’re thinking it.
“I’m jealous of you”
Being the primary carer at home performing the groundhog day routine can leave us feeling a little jealous as you leave for work. We see you ‘escaping’ the grind and in the throes of irrational thinking it can feel unfair and infuriating. You signed up for this baby too.
Know that there’s little you can do to stop us thinking this way. But, what you can do is NOT say the following (even if it is true!).
“I’d love to stay home all day if I could, I’d really enjoy it.”
“I’m more tired than you.”
“I HAVE to go to the after-work drinks for networking.”
“I’ve had a tough day. I just need to sit down.”
“You’ve got no idea how stressed I am at work.”
“I will want sex again…just not now”
Spending most of the day with a small person attached to us, leaves us mums feeling less than desirable. Some days, we’re lucky to take a shower, let alone brush our hair or teeth. We feel constantly tired and the thought of sex is about as appealing as giving birth again tomorrow.
Guys, please know that this does change. But, in the interim, you have to be patient. If your partner announces she’s going to bed early, it’s not an invite for you to join her with your spaghetti arms. She’s going to bed because she’s shattered and wants to sleep. Leave her alone.
Don’t ask about sex or, even worse, make any humourous comments about your lack of it. Trust me, no mum will be laughing. Be content with cuddles and know that being intimate for her isn’t about sex right now. It’s about embracing and focusing the newest love of your lives.
“You’re doing a great job”
In the fog of baby rearing, it’s hard to stop and take time to appreciate each other and what you’ve achieved as a couple. We tend to bumble along, going through the motions, finding our feet.
But be reassured that, as mums, we can’t do this without you. Sure, you can’t breastfeed and perhaps can’t settle the baby as well. But you can do other things that we can’t.
You’re the voice of reason we listen to in the dark and you’re the rock onto which we collapse when we need it. So, when we’re listening or leaning, know you’re doing a great job. Like in most of these incidences, our actions speak louder than words.