May Celebrations: Embracing Motherhood, Mental Health, and Self-Compassion


May 15, 2024By Little Way Counselling

Happy May!

May is a month that holds a special place in my heart. As the days lengthen and Calgary finally warms up, I relish the opportunity to spend more time outdoors, indulging in my favourite activities: gardening, hiking, kayaking, and camping. As a mother of three, Mother's Day is particularly meaningful. It is a time to reflect on all my mom has done for me while also soaking in the love and attention of my children. May is also significant for another reason: it is the birthday season for my family. Many of us, myself included, celebrate our birthdays this month, turning May into our own little mid-year festival!

In addition to these personal celebrations, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As a counselling psychologist, I find this an important time to discuss the mental health challenges many parents face. Parenthood, while rewarding, is fraught with its own set of stressors. It's crucial to recognize these challenges and find strategies to enhance our well-being.

Early Days of Motherhood

Being alone at home with a baby can be a whirlwind of emotions. From moments of pure joy to feeling completely overwhelmed, it is a rollercoaster ride that many mothers experience.

I will never forget my first day alone with our baby after my husband returned to work. It was overwhelming. My baby had jaundice and could not regulate his temperature. I found myself juggling breastfeeding, diaper changes, temperature checks, and skin-to-skin contact every two hours. Every time he cried, I felt lost and worried. Despite the challenges, motherhood revealed my inner strength, patience, and capacity for love. It taught me to ask for help and appreciate the wonders within myself, others, and the world.

Moreover, I often felt like I should have everything under control. I believe that being a mother should be instinctual. These perfectionistic fantasies only created more worries and anxiety. Self-compassion became my lifeline. Giving myself grace during tough moments, acknowledging that it’ i okay not to have all the answers, and learning to ask for help were crucial strategies. Being kind to yourself is just as important as caring for your little one.

Self-Compassion Techniques for Early Motherhood

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings: It is okay to feel exhausted, frustrated, or unsure. Acknowledge your emotions without judgment. They are valid, and you are not alone in experiencing them. 🌟
2. Be Kind to Yourself: Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a friend. Replace self-criticism with self-compassionate statements like, "I am doing my best, and we are okay." πŸ’–
3. Take Breaks: Give yourself permission to take short breaks when needed. Place your baby in a safe environment and step outside for a few minutes to breathe the fresh air, listen to the birds, or enjoy a cup of coffee. β˜•οΈ
4. Seek Support: Reach out for help from loved ones, friends, or professionals. Communicate your needs. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. 🀝
5. Practice Mindfulness: Stay present and practice mindfulness. Focus on your breath, be curious about your sensations, feelings, and thoughts without judgment, and practice gratitude for the small joys. 🌿

Practicing self-compassion is not about being perfect; it is about being kind and understanding towards yourself, especially during challenging times.

The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Parenthood: Navigating the Exhaustion

Parenthood is a beautiful journey filled with love, joy, and unforgettable moments. However, it also comes with challenges like sleep deprivation. As a mom of three, with my youngest still not sleeping through the night, operating with a lack of sleep is no longer foreign to me. The impact of sleep deprivation on parents cannot be overstated, affecting not only physical health but also mental and emotional well-being. 😴

Coping Strategies for Sleep Deprivation

1. Establishing a Sleep Routine: Create bedtime rituals for both you and your little one. Wind down with calming activities like baths, storytime, and prayer to signal your body that it is time to rest. πŸ›πŸ“šπŸ™
2. Seeking Support and Prioritizing Rest: Share nighttime duties with your partner or ask for help from family and friends to ensure moments of rest during the day. Creating a supportive environment for rest is essential. πŸ’‘πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦πŸ’€
3. Creating a Sleep-Conducive Environment: Make your bedroom peaceful and comfortable. Limit screen time, adjust lighting, and use white noise like a fan for better sleep. πŸŒ™πŸ›ŒπŸŒ¬οΈ
4. Mindful Self-Care: Practice self-compassion and prioritize activities that replenish your energy. Whether it is a warm bath, prayer, reading, or exercising, carve out time for yourself. πŸ§–β€β™€οΈπŸ™πŸ“–

Most parents face similar challenges, which means you are not alone. It is okay to seek support and rely on others. Every day, we grow stronger, more patient, and more loving.

Aside from taking care of the children, do not forget to take care of yourselves. If you are not well, then who will take care of your little one? How do you prioritize your physical and mental health? For me, now that we are experiencing warmer weather, I love spending time in nature and practicing mindfulness. Gardening allows me to connect with the earth while hiking and kayaking provide a sense of adventure and peace. Camping under the stars with my family brings us closer together and offers a break from our daily routines.

Let’s share our experiences and strategies and uplift each other. πŸ’•