What happens when you leave an intellectually stimulating career to become a full time mum? Yuliana Topazly gives advice on coping with the transition – and offers ideas for staying ahead of the game…
Yuliana Topazly is founder of BuddyWith.org.uk – a supportive community of parents and experts who are there to help each other, offer advice, and share experiences.
Taking the leap from full time career woman to full time mum might be one of the most challenging steps you take. And if you find yourself struggling – you aren’t alone; one in 10 women develop a mental health illness within the first year of having a baby.
But if you find the right balance it can be the most rewarding journey of your life.
Here are 12 tips to help you make the transition and find a new balance in your life:
1. Find supportive communities of fellow parents that you can tap into. These can be virtual or physical. It is important to be in touch, talk about your challenges, share experiences, listen to other people going through the same journey as you. By connecting with others, you will know you are not alone – and what you are going through is completely normal.
2. Ensure you have ‘me’ time. This is especially important when you become a mum. There are no longer days off, weekends or a sick leave… so you must ensure you have a chance to switch off and have time for yourself.
Don’t ignore the outside world. Engage with your partner and their life and work, take an interest in the world outside your baby
3. Don’t be afraid to share how you feel. A lot of mums worry about sharing their feelings with their partners, fearing negative reactions and misunderstandings. However, talking things through can help to ensure you get the support you need at home. Partner’s aren’t telepathic – they need you to communicate with them if they are to help you. Do not leave it until it is too late. Also, share how you feel with your doctor, and look for local support if you feel you may benefit from it.
4. Adjust your expectations and reflect on each day. Ask yourself: What have I learnt today? How did I feel about it? What was I really proud of today? Answering these questions each day will help your own self-exploration and allow you to recognise and build upon your progress.
5. Make sure you are happy with your childcare arrangements. Nothing is worse than constantly worrying about your child while you aren’t with them – and it will leave you feeling mentally ragged. Invest time in finding the right solution for you and your child.
6. Keep yourself engaged with outside world. Learn a new skill – maybe try that course or craft project you always wanted to do but never got around to. There are so many options and joining a class is a great way to meet new people outside the ‘new mums’ network, give you time away from the childcare, keep your brain engaged, and give you a sense of achievement.
7. Explore the local children’s centre. These are fantastic places which offer dozens of free courses with crèche facilities – and most importantly parenting courses and peer to peer support groups. You need never feel you are struggling on your own again.
8. Share your skills. Keep your skills up to date by using them to support others in the community. Consider a skills swap as a way to learn something new.
9. Mindfulness. Using mindfulness is a great way to stay calm and avoid that overwhelmed feeling, especially when parenthood gets really tough. Just a few minutes each day for yourself could make a huge difference. There are apps, books, YouTube videos and podcasts to help if you feel you need some mindful guidance.
10. Keep things real. Don’t ignore the outside world. Engage with your partner and their life and work, take an interest in the world outside your baby. Stay in touch with what is happening in the world and how it impacts you and your family.
11. Money. The family budget is a common cause of conflicts and misunderstandings. So budget accordingly and make the most of the free options available in your area. There are hundreds of community groups offering free opportunities for parents to learn and relax, and for children to develop and play. Invest some time in doing your research – it is amazing what you will find and how little you need to spend!
12. Enjoy. Enjoy every minute, but be prepared for anything! Having a child is incredibly rewarding and almost every parent will tell you it’s the best thing they have ever done and its all over far too fast! So enjoy it, make the most of the it, and savour every moment.
When the time comes to go back to work remember that you were employable before you had a baby and you are even more employable now as you have learnt so many new skills – so make sure you reflect this on your CV.