This survey is from an anonymous mom that describes her journey leading to her personal social anxiety and the stress of having to also socialize your baby with an ever changing schedule and/or routine.
This particular person describes her current journey as in having lost 4 babies before she had her current son; delivering them all naturally; being with the babies' father for 8 years and working as a childhood educator for 8 years.
She describes parenthood as an adventure that takes you on a new path each and every day and in the future, she definitely plans on having more children.
Most Prominent Challenge
In her words
"Coping with social anxiety to socialize my baby and dealing with the stress of creating a new routine while using trial and error."
How to Overcome this Challenge
In her words
"I went to see a counsellor every two weeks, I pushed myself to go out and confided in some close mom friends that I made."
A Little Piece of Advice
"I always reminded myself of this when I became frustrated or felt like I was a bad mother...Rome was not built in a day."
Pay attention to what you have learned in some of the previous experiences you have in your education or employment. You may have come across many situations that have given you transferrable skills to use in your current situations as a parent.
TR Take Aways
Oh man...I could talk about routine and schedule ALL day long - for real. I think I just want to preface this conversation by saying that we are humans and we constantly learning what works best for us, makes us the happiest, makes us feel the most fulfilled. To me, this means that my advice regarding this situation could be very diverse if you are a person that likes to have a routine or fly by the seat of your pants.
I think the best tip I can give to all of you is be flexible and evolve into your greatest self where you have the ability to become someone that maybe...on Mondays you go with the flow and fly by the seat of your pants and maybe Tuesdays and Thursdays (when you have baby activities) you have more of a schedule.
Just know that learning how we work best in life in continuous and this should be a joyous thing, the "figuring it out", the learning about ourselves and realizing what kind of way of living makes us the happiest.
Regarding Social Anxiety
Start with instructor led classes
In your local community their might be a mix of activities or groups that are more social or more instructor led. My recommendation would be to choose a class that has a high level of instructor talking/leading 1st and less socializing so ALL the parents are in it together and listening to the instructor. It's a good place to start to meet people before the class or session starts and after. From there, you can potentially attend a couple of the community events with a parent you have met in more social settings, knowing that you have someone else to go with.
Place yourself in busy situations where you can still be alone
Let me explain...when I am not "feeling it" that day and feel my introvert monkey swinging in but I know my baby still could use to be social, be out, explore, learn, etc. I place myself in an environment where I don't have to do much work. For example, you might walk through a mall, a zoo, a local market, event or something similar where they are able to see other people, see noises, things happening and trust me...they learn from this AND you get to walk quietly with a tea (if they are in a stroller of course).
Know that your own definition of "being social" is something you can create for yourself
There is this community pressure or whatever you want to call it that we must be out and about and when we have a couple days in we think it's not normal, we haven't shown enough to our baby, we feel guilty, we feel that the repercussions of them growing up with having "missed out" on those couple days are going to be terrible....well at least I have had those thoughts.
I am here to tell you to do 1 of two things. Change what you're doing or change your perception of what you're doing. By this I mean, if you're tired of being inside...spend some time outside again...depending on the whether it can be in a mall or park or even just the front step of your house (there's lots to learn from the front step lol). This would be changing what you're doing and changing your perception is knowing that you are NOT a bad mom for staying in or feeling like you're not socializing your baby. Trust me that there are many ways to do this from home with conversation, showing them nature, taking walks, video clips, reading, interaction, games, etc. After all...I am pretty sure some home schooled kids have been in doors a couple days in a row somewhere in the world! :P
Regarding Scheduling and Routines
Like I mentioned above, it can drastically change on a daily basis and knowing what works for you is a forever lesson so do not be so hard on yourself if you feel like you don't know what kind of parent you are. You can just be one and some days feel "flaky" and others feel on top of it with a routine. Love is all they need.
For myself I always do a couple things when people tell me "oh you're really lucky she sleeps so well and eats so well" I respond with something like "well yes, I worked really hard at establishing a routine" OR when people say "oh yah well I can't live with a schedule" I respond with something like "yah me neither" cause I REALLY do not see how I parent as a schedule.
(ALSO - just a side bar here...you don't have to label yourself as anything. Just be. I am a parent and I parent LOL)
The truth is that babies do change sometimes daily and putting a routine together can be so frustrating or raise anxiety when we feel like it changes the next day. I have had those days...trust me.
What I do know is that the thing that kept me the most sane was following acronyms. I used to use the acronym called "EASY" from the book Baby Whisperer (love many parents of this book) but I feel like every time I thought of it...especially on the days that were not easy...I would get anxious and pissed off. Instead, I now feel like using NESTS is better (adapted from Haring, M., Smith J., Bodnar, D., & Ryan D. (2011). Self-care: The NEST-S program. In coping with depression during pregnancy and following the birth. British Columbia: BC Mental Health & Addiction Services. Produced by the City of Hamilton Public Health Services).
Yes, NESTS in the resource mentioned above is for the birther regarding self-care and that's a whole different topic (although I like that it works for both) but I use it here for my routine to follow. Here's an example.
N (Nutrition): However you feed your baby, do it. I won't go into details as to when but one thing I did do is quietly wake them up in the morning around 7 if they slept in so that the day could finish around that time as well.
E (Exercise): This is the next part, as soon as they're done, play time, reading time, and when they are little exercise or activity time is simply changing their diaper. YES I would actually do it in order so I could remember and develop that kind of routine for them because as babies a diaper change is lots of work and after?? They are ready to sleep!
S (Sleep and rest): Get them some sleep. Yes there are sleepy cues that you can catch early but the trick for me was always to put them asleep a little bit before. Either in their crib or car seat if I was out and they would just chill there till they were ready. They know that it's bed time and know that it's time to calm down.
T (Time for self): When they sleep....NETFLIX BABY! hahaha well time for you whatever that means, work if you work from home, social time with friends, lunch, tv, reading, nap whatever!
S (Support): This added S is also included when they are sleeping. Do a check-in with yourself, do you need help? Support in any way? Now is the best time to grab the phone and chat to someone while you have a moment to reflect.
Now..here's the deal..when things change and they will...whether they sleep 20 minutes or 1 hour or longer, I still follow the same routine! It's keeps your mind relaxed knowing you ARE following a routine it just looks different because today they slept at 10AM and tomorrow it's like 12:42PM! hahah regardless, the chunks in between followed one another. Make sense? I am sure I will blog about this again because I love talking routines!
Also...interesting that this works for your self care right? Make sure you're eating too, exercising, sleeping and taking time for yourself? OH! Shocking...we work just like babies do ;)
Resources Related to This Post
For your self-care
The NESTS Program
I have not used this program but from looking at it online, the workbook seems fantastic!
The Bounceback Program
I am in this program RIGHT NOW! Email me if you want info or I can do a live about it so far but after my 1st session I am really loving it!
My Favorite Nurturing Resources