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Paying Back by Paying it Forward & Helping New Mothers
Before becoming a parent I spent over a decade working with children. As a play therapist, I felt I had the most amazing job. I literally got paid to play. There was a lot more to it than that but on the surface, my job was to lure my clients into the wonderful world of play all the while weaving in that particular child’s therapeutic needs. I worked alongside amazing educators and therapists who generously shared their expertise with me. Their counsel remains invaluable to me as they taught me so much about child development and life in general.
We All Need a Community
Throughout the years I’ve called on my mentors and friends for guidance in specific parenting situations and I’ve taken great comfort in the sage advice they’ve offered. I was lucky that my community was very generous about helping new mothers and they were ready to lend me support.
While my parenting style is ever-changing, the influence of these women remains strong in the undercurrent of it all. I’ve enjoyed being on the receiving end of this river of knowledge but as seasons change so does our role in life. I turned 43 this February and finally came to terms with the fact that my reproductive years are behind me. It’s a little sad for me as I always dreamed of a big busy family, but I’m not one to sit around and count my deficits. In fact, I have so much to be thankful for and I am particularly thankful for my son who has been an endless source of love, happiness, and inspiration.
Purposeful Parenting Pays Off
After 9 years of purposeful parenting, I feel like I’ve hit veteran status. I’ve survived years of sleep deprivation, the endless demands of toddlerhood, skinned knees, bruised elbows…the list goes on and on and on. I spent the early elementary years laying out the groundwork for a smooth transition into pre-adolescence and it’s definitely paying off. While parenting Layton remains my number 1 priority, I’m finding that this stage of parenting requires me to step back so that he has the opportunity to exercise his independence while still providing him with the subdued guidance and security he needs.
Paying Back by Paying it Forward to Other Parents
This brings me back to the mentors in my life. Thank You to the wonderful seasoned Mamas who have bestowed their knowledge upon me. I may not have used every bit of advice that you’ve doled out, but your words and examples have definitely played a part in my journey. I realize that as Layton enters adolescence I will need your counsel more than ever, but I also recognize that I have entered a new season in my life and that it’s time for me to offer that same support and sisterhood to the new Mamas in my life.
How Can We Support New Mothers?
Parenting is such a beautiful experience but riddled with trials and tribulations, having seasoned Mamas around not only helps a New Mama to deal with specific situations but it strengthens the community that our children will inherit.
So how do we support new Mamas? Helping new mothers helps their whole family.
New Mamas get a ton of parenting advice, sometimes wanted, sometimes not.
These are a few of the tidbits of parenting advice that have really impacted my parenting:
From My Mom “ Your marriage is like the Sun and your child/children are the planets that revolve around it. Nurture your relationship with your husband as that is what keeps the planets happy and in balance.”
It’s so easy to get caught up in parenting (GUILTY) and ignore your spouse but through your interactions with your husband/wife, you are teaching your child how to love and be loved.
From my friend Sigrid “It’s okay to let him see you cry (Layton), it’s important for him to know that it’s perfectly normal to express your feelings whether good or bad.”
I go back to this one a lot. I think we’ve reached a point in modern parenting where we are just too cautious. We want to shelter our children from any negative feelings, but what if we use these opportunities to show them that not only is it okay to be sad/mad/scared etc… but also model appropriate ways to express these uncomfortable feelings and how to recover when those feelings occur.
From my friend and partner Shelah “Go on adventures, lots of them, create memories as they will be the anchors that keep him close at heart.”
Well, what can I say….This has become the theme in my life…Through our adventures, we have created a ton of memories as well as traditions, and traditions are an integral part of family unity.
10 Ways That We Can Be Helping New Mothers:
I think the best way to help new mothers is to be there for HER needs.
- Give her a break from the baby, even if it’s just enough time for her to take a shower.
- Prepare home cooked meals.
- If there are older children take them out to the park for a bit.
- If there is a dog, offer to take the dog for a walk.
- Provide a list of resources: Share your favorite parenting and kid friendly resources. But just share the list – no unwanted advice!
- Offer to run errands i.e grocery store/Target etc. Better yet, call when you are at the store to see if she needs anything. That way she won’t feel like she is forcing you to do an extra errand.
- Take plenty of photos of Mama and baby. There can never be enough photographs.
- Listen to her and be a shoulder to cry on.
- If you see the new mom seems to be a bit blue and you are concerned about Post Partum Depression gently urge her to speak to her doctor.
- Most of all reassure her, she needs to know that she is doing a great job and that it’s okay for her to trust her instincts despite the current parenting trends. What works for one may not work for the other and ultimately she has to be loyal to what works best for her and her baby.
Do you have any other ideas on how we can be helping new mothers?
What did you need when you were a new mama?