New moms aren’t the only ones who suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). It happens when your kids are any age and isn’t exclusive to only having one child. But it can be particularly rough as a breastfeeding or pumping mama. Here are some tips to manage FOMO - especially during the holiday season.
Set Realistic Expectations
Maybe you are (or will be) one of those moms at the mall pushing around a 2 week-old and sipping on your iced coffee like squeezing that baby out wasn’t more than a trip to the post office. But if you’re like the rest of us, give yourself a break in a major way. Maybe the biggest break you’ve ever given yourself.
Don’t set goals you can’t keep. RSVPing to every holiday party this year may not be an option. Hosting your favorite relatives while cooking, cleaning, adhering to nap schedules, breastfeeding, coordinating matching outfits, and hosting a touch-football game in the backyard, all while getting family photos done? Probably not.
Instead of planning what you want to happen, set one or two attainable goals. If you don’t set the bar too high, you’re more likely to be pleasantly surprised instead of hurt or longing for something that isn’t within reach. And for the love of mistletoe, don’t compare yourself to other people, especially other moms. It is never as easy as it looks. For anyone.
Don't Pump or Breastfeed Alone
Ask a relative or friend to hang out with you when nursing. Breastfeeding sessions can take awhile. It’s a great opportunity for you to get some quality one-on-one time with a relative. If you feel comfortable doing so, breastfeed or pump around your family. You can use a soft blanket or nursing cover if you choose and you won’t miss a thing! Sick of hearing Aunt Kathy’s story about the fruitcake again? Perfect excuse to grab a pal, your breast pump (or baby), and head to a private area to “pump” and have some catch-up time. Freeze your milk stash if you get a little extra!
Don’t Strive For Perfection
Itching to have a holiday party at your house but can’t seem to keep up with the laundry? Don’t let the illusion of picture perfection prevent you from getting out there, if that’s what you want to do.
Want to host a dinner party but not up for it physically? Try a potluck style instead and have everyone bring their favorite dish. Skip the professional portraits this year and just make sure to have plenty of friends and family members snap a photo throughout the holidays. Postpartum recovery garments can also help slim you and make you feel more comfortable.
Create new connections with other moms. After your first child, you may have no idea what you’re doing or feel isolated in your new role. Using social media to connect to acquaintances who have kids is a great place to start. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even personal ones. Modesty oftentimes is an afterthought when it comes to the incredible humility and support other women show when relating to pregnancy and motherhood challenges.
Look for mom groups or start your own if you don’t find one that suits you. There are an abundance of online breastfeeding support groups as well as lifestyle groups for you and/or baby. It’s hard to feel left out if you’re surrounded by other women in the same stage of life as you, and texting with another person who’s in the thick of it all is about as validating as it comes.
Take Your Time
First, go at your own speed. Your cousin cooked an entire turkey two weeks after her baby was born? Good for her. It’s taken you two weeks to even think about a real shower after your baby? That’s okay too. There’s no right or wrong speed for adjusting to life postpartum. Your body just underwent the most incredible miracle of your entire life. Need a few days, weeks or months to bounce back and feel like you again? Set your own pace and stop apologizing about it. There are some products that can help your body bounce back a little faster, but you’re in control of the timing.
The other time to take, is time for you. It’s amazing what sleep deprivation and being on call 24/7 can do to a person. Me-time doesn’t have to be anything pre-planned or grandiose. It can be as easy as an express pedicure or a bubble bath with the monitor on if you don’t want to leave the house. It’s important to carve out and insulate this time. Close your eyes, recharge your batteries, unwind.
Call the Shots
Mental health is a tricky balance postpartum. Your hormones make a lot of decisions for you despite what your rational mind is telling them. Don’t be afraid to be honest with your partner, your family, your village. Only you know what’s best for you, and it’s best for you to set the tone and level of outings and company to preserve your mental health.
If you plan carefully and take care of yourself mentally and physically, you can keep one foot in activities and family time while still keeping the other half of you engrossed in sweet, snugly baby land.
And if you jump in with both feet to take a little extra time with your sweet bundle, we don’t think anyone would blame you. It’s your decision and your baby. It’s possible, too, that this incredible new milestone is giving someone else out there FOMO of your life. After all, the grass really is always greener, even though sometimes we don’t realize that the greenest parts are underneath our own two feet.