Try remembering the acronym C.A.R.E. when times get tough:
C = Compassion
Please try to have compassion for yourself in the moment. Parenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world and there is no such thing as “leaving the office.” Try to remember that when you are tired and triggered, you are vulnerable. You are not a bad mother for having a hard time or difficult feelings, and you are not alone.
A = Alternatives
Try not to think something has to happen, e.g., my baby has to nap today. If anyone had the power to make babies and young children stick to the program we planned for them, well, that person would probably be, um, not a human. Give yourself plenty of space to be flexible and look for alternatives to whatever is stressing you out. Baby not sleeping? Go to the park. It is ok to be creative and do things to get by. You can work on other strategies to address real concerns when you are feeling better.
R = Relaxation
Take some deep breaths. Everyone thinks better with more oxygen to the brain! Whatever you are doing, just let your body go soft for a moment and take time to feel your body relax. If you can get away from baby for even a minute to lay down and rest, do it. Don’t feel guilty if baby whines or cries. It is important for you to regain a feeling of calm in your body. It will help.
E = Endurance
Getting through tough moments with your baby builds endurance. Remember that all of your hard work is not lost. You are practicing managing the moment and the compassion, alternatives, and relaxation you bring to bear will grow your self-soothing skill set immensely. You will gain confidence that you can get through a tough day and that it will get easier over time.
Never forget that caring for yourself is as important as caring for your baby.
Claire is a mother, practicing psychotherapist, and co-creator of HonestMamas.com.
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