Becoming the mum that you want to beBecoming a mother is a monumental change. When I was trying to conceive my first pregnancy dresses, the seed of an idea formed in my mind: Why isn’t there a book to support women psychologically throughout the transition to motherhood? The idea grew along with my first pregnancy and an outline of my new book, Becoming Mum, was born soon before my daughter. I wrote Becoming Mum while I was on maternity leave, drawing from my knowledge as a parenting researcher and a clinical and developmental psychologist, as well as from my day to day experiences as a new mum. Much of Becoming Mum was, quite literally, written while my darling new baby slept on my chest.
I know from my own experience that even when the transition to motherhood is smooth it is still one of life’s greatest challenges. I passionately believe that women deserve support that is empowering, liberating and flexible. Women deserve a roadmap – a guide for the journey. Here is a simple map for your journey, a guide to becoming the mum that you want to be.
Follow your own heart
Moment by moment, connect with what’s in your own heart – your own unique parenting values – and listen to this. When you are truly following your own parenting values you will experience a ‘just right’ sensation of joy and satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that life will always be easy. But you will experience the joy of living what matters most to you.
Live in the present moment
It is easy to become stuck dwelling on the past or churning over worries about the future. However, your life is what is happening right now. You can consciously choose to keep your attention on the here and now of your life and, by doing so, keep yourself open to discovering the little rewards in your day to day life. Of course, the present moment is also where your baby is! If you are living in the present moment then you are more likely to notice your baby’s cues, needs, feelings and patterns. And that will build the bond between you.
Be kind to yourself
Treat yourself with all the kindness and consideration that you would your best friend. If you experience critical, negative thoughts or distressing feelings then try to make room for these too, as a part of your experience. When we battle with our own thoughts and feelings we are really battling with ourselves, and that is a battle that we will always lose. Instead, try to find kindness and compassion for yourself – your negative thoughts, distressing feelings and all.
Take action based on your unique parenting values. Do something that brings you that ‘just right’ feeling of joy. There may be bigger goals that you’d like to set, but don’t just think about these. Think about all the little things that you could do to be the mum that you want to be.
At times, the transition to motherhood is stressful, uncomfortable and challenging. But it is also a grand adventure, one that is enriching, liberating and deeply rewarding. May you take your adventure with your heart wide open. May you become the mum that you want to be.
Dr Koa Whittingham is a parenting researcher at the University of Queensland, a clinical and developmental psychologist, a mother, and the author of a unique new book for mothers.