The Dallas Morning News
Tips for frustrated new mom
Dear Carolyn: I’m a newish stay-at-home mom finding it hard to connect with my spouse, my friends and my “old” life. I have no family support system and none of my friends have offered or shown any interest in helping with my little one. My whole life has turned upside down (not unexpected).
I’m no longer invited to anything friend-wise. My husband complains that he hates his job. He doesn’t help much with our child — she’s very attached to me, which is a sore point — and is irritated that I’m “always tired and angry.” I am always tired and frustrated that I have no time for myself. He tells me to ask for help and then when I ask, says, “OK but [little one] is going to cry the whole time.” It’s hard to stay positive and upbeat when I feel like only my life has changed.
My husband’s answer is for me to hire a nanny or get
involved with a mom’s group, but that doesn’t solve anything with my current circle.
K. Dear K.: Actually, it probably would. Your “current circle” problem is a specific one likely rooted in your more general problem of being out of balance at home. That’s also true of the other specific problems you name: no time for yourself, lonely, always tired and angry, marriage faltering, father not bonding with child — even the husbandly chore-dodging and work-griping.
Your husband’s suggestion to hire help is a significant start to solving it all. Just a few weekly shifts for a parttime caregiver can give you some time to yourself, which can give you some rest andsome energy. Hiring help can also get you out the door on a date with her husband or dinner with friends or just on a long walk.
A better rested, less angry version of you can say calmly, when your husband complains the baby “is going to cry the whole time”: “You’re right, she will. That means we need to swap roles more. We let things get out of whack. It’ll take some time and work for both of us to fix this, but soon she’ll figure out how brilliant her dad is.” Commit to building his confidence with the baby.
Make these standing appointments: Pick a weekend morning where he’s solo parent; a date night; an out-withfriends (or solo) weeknight.
Happier people make more cooperative partners make better parents. And, employees. Few people think clearly when stressed, so easing home tension can ease his work tension.
Just by getting out with your friends more regularly, you can develop a better understanding of their place in life — and develop expectations of them accordingly. If I gather correctly that you’re the first with a baby, then I hope you’ll see: A baby is so far from their reality it’s no wonder they haven’t offered to help. People new to babies tend to see one as a fine reason to run the other way. It’s not personal, it’s just ... alien.
And it’s OK to talk about that. Sympathetically, for best results: “I realize you’re not in a baby-friendly place.” And, if true: “I doubt I’d be myself if I didn’t have one.” Think of your friends individually and identify the most flexible. That friend might be open to coming over, holding the baby, enjoying your company while rolling with small-kid disruptions.
A mom group is a fine idea, too. Nothing beats shared experience, laughs and child care.