Tag: new mom

This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on January 20, 2021, by Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS; Health Affiliates Maine.  

Question: I am a new mom and COVID has been very difficult. My husband works out of the home and I feel very isolated. We are not seeing my parents right now even though they live close because they are high risk. I so appreciate Macaroni Kid as a resource but am missing in-person events and the ability to mingle with other moms. Can you share ideas for trying to stay connected and beat the heavy feeling of isolation? I am particularly worried with winter here that it will just get worse.

Answer: I can just imagine how badly you are missing in-person events and the ability to mingle with family and other moms. You are missing the fun of showing off your new baby to the world, and especially enjoying seeing your parents with their grandchild. This pandemic has really emphasized for all of us what really matters and the things we took for granted. New parenting should be a well-supported endeavor, and it’s not meant to be done alone.  

There are many things to do to take care of a new baby. I am going to add one more important job to your list and that is to take care of yourself. This is so important when you are feeling isolated. You will have to work to stay connected and fight the feelings of sadness that can often do just the reverse—cause you to withdraw.  

Not knowing your parents’ conditions, I am not sure if this can apply to your circumstance, but as long as you wear a mask and stay six feet apart, there are some activities you can do together. Outdoor activities are best. 

Here are a few ways to stay connected with loved ones, other parents, and your community: 

  • Bundle up the baby for brief porch visits. Let folks know you are coming so they can bundle up, too!
  • Try “car talk.” Park next to each other in opposite directions and talk for as long as you can handle the open window temperatures. Enjoy a hot drink while you chat.
  • Text pictures of the little one daily to your parents and in-laws. They will love it since they are probably feeling isolated and alone, too. Everyone will feel more engaged. 
  • Should baby nap long enough, bake something for your parents and make a delivery so they can get a quick peek at the little one.
  • There are many online groups. Try one on Facebook specifically for those who welcomed a baby during COVID called “COVID-19 Baby Parents Group.” These types of groups are just a chat forum to support one another and share ideas and resources.
  • Make sure you are letting your husband know how isolated you feel. He may be doing it already, but if not, ask that your husband check in on you during his work breaks.
  • Make a list of those friends and family for whom you can have regular contact whether by phone, Skype, Facetime, email, or car talk. Ask them for regular virtual or phone visits. Most importantly, let them know how you are feeling. You will find others feel as you do. 
  • Don’t let cold weather keep you from attending outdoor events. Most town recreation centers have developed “safe” family or kid activities to do which can connect and get families out of the house. Some are ongoing weekly events like skating, snowshoeing, or winter walks. One mom told me that she has enjoyed this so much. She bundles up her daughter and puts her in the sled at the event. It is a great place to meet other moms. The fresh, cool air can invigorate both mom and baby, giving you energy.
  • Some local farms are allowing families to visit the animals in the barns. Call ahead and ask. The sights, sounds, and smells of the working farm can make for a wonderful adventure.
  • Reach out to other new moms you may know. Share with them how you are feeling.  
  • Think of someone in your circle of acquaintances who might also be feeling isolated. In helping others, we often help ourselves.
  • Connect to a counselor via teletherapy. Most insurances will pay for this. There are many uncertainties in being a new mom even in times when accessing regular supports is easy. It is common for new parents to experience stress, anxiety, and some experience postpartum depression. The challenges of new parenting are emphasized during a pandemic. Asking for help is the act of a healthy person. 

Stay hopeful! Try something on this list each day. Dwell on thoughts when the pandemic will end and of all things you will want to do and explore with your child. Do not hesitate to reach out for help. We will get through this.

 

Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine.

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This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on October 25, 2018 by Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS; Health Affiliates Maine

Question:  Just found Macaroni Kid through a friend and am so excited for this resource. I am a “new” mom at age 37! No, I am not expecting, but am marrying a man with 3 children whom he has part-time custody of. It is both exciting and scary. I have never been a mom before and don’t want to replace the kids’ mom. I am looking for all the resources I can on how to balance all of that, along with the newness of marriage. I look forward to your advice.

Answer:  Congratulations!  You have lots of new and wonderful additions to your life! I wish you all the best! You are wise to want to find balance in everything and to be careful with the feelings of others. These are good signs for success.

My first bit of advice is one I give to all parents and step-parents. That is: take care of your marriage. Children benefit and thrive when a marriage is healthy and it is a good model of a healthy relationship. How well the children adjust and accept you will depend a lot on what they observe, perceive, and learn from the relationship you have with their father. Make your new marriage a priority.

That being said, you will need to move slowly to give the children time to get to know you. Try to develop a unique relationship with each child that is separate from their father. Find a way to have fun together and start to make memories. Memories mean you have a history together, and the kids will begin to feel like you belong. Be prepared that one child may accept you more easily than another, but keep trying.  

Always be respectful towards the children’s mother, even when this is hard. Anger and disagreements should be taken up with your husband when you can speak in private. Your rejection of their mother will only make them defensive and want to protect her. Remember that you not only married into a family but you also gained the children’s mother in the mix. If possible, try to develop a positive relationship with her. As you defer some decisions to her, this will put her at ease, so she knows you are not trying to take her place. One mother I spoke with has had a 15-year history with her stepson. She shared that she always made a point to ask him how his mom was doing. She felt this allowed him to feel comfortable talking about her, and her comfortable hearing about her.  

In most things, defer to dad and encourage him to continue to set the parental tone; once discipline or other consequences are decided, always have a unified front. If circumstances allow, encourage him to have a healthy co-parenting relationship with his ex.  

I also want to share a bit of wisdom from a co-worker who was a stepchild. He said, “I always had ‘step-parents’ and ‘half-brother’, and didn’t realize how much this diminished my relationship with them until (when I was a young adult) my ‘step-father’ stopped calling me his step-son and started calling me his SON. When that happened, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of pride, appreciation and respect.”  

I share his comments because we often don’t fully understand how a child perceives love and acceptance. I wish you many opportunities to talk about feelings with your new children and to share lots of love.  

Being a stepparent or a parent that has to share custody of children is not an easy situation. Counselors can help parents, children and families navigate co-parenting and these relationships that can be ripe with emotion. Seeking help can make healthy families.   

Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine, a mental health and substance abuse treatment agency serving adults, adolescents, children and families. For more information or if you or someone you know needs help, call us at 877-888-4304 or visit our website www.healthaffiliatesmaine.com and click on “Referrals.”

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