I was lucky when I was pregnant – I got very little unsolicited advice.
The same cannot be said for this new mom stage. I get advice all of the time, whenever I go out. It’s always (I assume) given with good intentions, but it kind of falls on deaf ears. I mean, unless I’m actively seeking advice about an issue, I’m probably not interested in what other people think I should be doing. It’s not that I think I’m doing everything right (I know I’m clueless), but my brain can only handle so much information, and if we’re not having a particular issue with Clara, then I’m not going to remember the advice in five months when we are having the issue. If that makes sense.
BUT, there’s one piece of advice that I want to give new moms, which I know people told me but I downplayed the importance of:
Get the heck out of your house.
On this night, Tim and I decided to go to a movie in the park with Clara. We saw ‘Catching Fire’ and Clara was awake and not crying through the whole thing.
If you’re a new mom you’re probably thinking:
1) Duh, I already get out of the house, this is obvious.
2) How can I possibly leave?! It’s intimidating, I don’t feel well, etc etc etc.
I didn’t leave the house until about 6 weeks after my c-section, and let me assure you, I was becoming a crazy person from cabin fever.
For the first month (or so), as I was recovering, we stayed in the house, watching Modern Family. We still went to church group on Wednesday nights and church on Sunday mornings, but other than that, we stayed at home. Friends and family came to us and we ordered food in and the most exciting days we had were when we walked around the block together. I was okay with this for a while, because I couldn’t physically move far from the couch and I imagined I’d never feel like my old self again.
Then, after about 5 weeks, I got my energy back and my attitude changed.
That’s when I started getting really miserable about being ‘stuck’.
Tim went back to work this same week my energy was returning, so I wanted to do things but no longer had my partner-in-crime to have adventures with during the week. It was just me and Clara – on our own! Finally, I could walk and function as a normal human being, but I still didn’t leave the house because I felt like I had no reason to. We didn’t have many errands to run, I had no more doctor visits, I wasn’t going back to work, and I didn’t have friends to visit (who weren’t visiting me).
Then, after a weekend in which I didn’t leave the house for 72 hours (give or take) I decided that changes needed to be made. I decided I needed to leave the house whether it was necessary / productive or not. I was getting super resentful towards Tim for living a ‘normal’ life which included working, working out, happy hours, etc etc. I was also getting angry at myself for not having more of a social life and for allowing myself to stay home and be unhappy instead of actively trying to change something.
So I joined a mom and baby class that starts next week.
I set up a walking date with a friend.
I put weekend activities on the family shared calendar so that we get out of the house and do something fun at least once per day on the weekends.
I insisted on going out to dinner instead of ordering in, because Clara can easily sit quietly at restaurants at this age.
I started pumping so that other people could babysit/feed Clara.
And I decided that it’s important for us to walk around the neighborhood every single day that it isn’t too hot or rainy to do so.
My goal is to not leave the house to run unnecessary errands, because I don’t want to spend money we don’t need to spend, but if I had more self-control I could probably go to Target or other stores and walk around there for a bit, too!
I would urge new moms not to wait until you’re truly miserable before leaving the house (with or without the baby). Try to do at least one fun activity per week, even if it’s something small, like walking to a favorite coffee shop. Make plans ahead of time and put them on the calendar so you have added motivation to leave the house. Better yet, ask your husband to think of some fun activities and put them on the calendar! Also, take advantage of people offering to watch the baby, if you’re lucky enough to have people you trust offering to babysit. While I love taking Clara along with us, it’s truly a great feeling to leave her at home so we can go bike-riding or go out with friends by ourselves. Don’t be too intimidated about taking the baby with you because you’re afraid of blowouts or them crying or you not having something you need… you will be fine and you can do it!
It’s definitely easiest to set up camp inside your house and never leave, but it’s really not very fun for weeks on end. Plus, if you have plans to leave the house, you may just decide to shower that day, which I’ve found is always a good thing and an instant picker-upper on days when I’m not feeling so hot.
(Two unsolicited advice posts in a row… whoops!)