As being a mum to twins gets underway, I find myself staring in disbelief at these two tiny people that Jesse and I created. There’s a heart-wrenching, momentous and overwhelming amount of joy and gratitude alive in my heart right now. And there is also anxiety. We still haven’t gone outside of our house yet. I haven’t yet ‘caught up’ with myself as I am feeling depleted, unmotivated and at the start of a very long journey.
HOW DO I LOOK AFTER MYSELF WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY?
Babies need their parents right around the clock, and especially their mothers. When surviving on breastmilk, there’s no getting away from that fact. But to hold onto my sense of self and sanity, I need to look after myself too. What can I give to my children if I have nothing to give for myself? How can I stop feeling guilty about looking after myself, when so much is being demanded of me right now?
Positive affirmations are phrases that we THINK in order to FEEL how we want to feel. For example, “I’m doing my best and that is enough” allows me to believe in myself by reminding me of my maternal strength and courage. It’s OK to feel what I feel, my feelings are valid and there is no right or wrong when it comes to emotions. Is that not so?
At other times, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy all the gratitude and delight that comes with new motherhood.
HOW CAN I ADJUST MY EXPECTATIONS?
The first few months with a newborn can be challenging, so I have to remember that it is all temporary. Meaning it’s OK for the house to be in disarray for this period of time. Freshly-cooked dinners aren’t guaranteed. Feelings of inadequacy with only just managing the basics such as getting my older daughter dressed and ready for pre-school is a common occurrence. So I have to anticipate these lower standards of achievement because my life is less organised right now. Giving myself extra chores and then feeling guilty for not doing them just makes me miserable.
But on top of this iceberg of guilt, I realise that this is all ‘normal’, and that does make me feel better. Because I know that in a matter of months, I’ll adjust and resume my previous standard of living.
WHAT SORT OF SCHEDULE SHOULD I KEEP?
Being the type of person that I am, I have a tendency to go overboard and plan everything ahead of time. I love goals, and the key to achieving goals is in having a plan. It gives me comfort to anticipate my children’s needs and that enables me to feel organised in a world of parenting that often feels rather chaotic.
So I like to make lists and I like to give myself schedules, as this gives me the competence to bring into my life the things I want or need, despite my current state of absent-mindedness. With my older daughter, I found she tended to sleep and eat better when she kept to a routine.
So I really value having a schedule, especially when it comes to twin babies. If they eat at the same time and sleep at the time then I might be able to get a little BREAK in somewhere. That is certainly something that can improve my quality of life. But what kind of schedule is realistic? A schedule is something to aim towards without being overly attached to.
WHAT ABOUT DEALING WITH ANXIETY?
I know that mums of multiples experience high levels of anxiety and I am no exception. So here are my goals for coping with the next few months.
Lower my expectations.
Work everything else around my babies’ feeds.
Remember all children do things in their own time.
Don’t beat myself up for not being active and spending more time at home.
Remember it’s OK to allow other people to look after me and the babies.
Do things when and how works best for me.