When your baby cries, there is a chemical reaction that takes place which urges most new moms to react. It has developed over our species existence, which means it is not something that can quickly be turned off! The crying is instinctual for infants, and the response is innate. Historically, a crying baby could be tended to and nurtured by many adults, and many milk-producing women. Caring for a child in the first years were collective responsibilities.
However, today, as modern women with current responsibilities, stressors, and desires, there is a new struggle that we are facing: modern families don't have enough help raising children. The person who takes the majority of the mental, emotional, and physical burden is the mom.
It is not a coincidence that #selfcare has 9.9 million posts on Instagram. We know we need to put our oxygen masks on first, but the needs of our children don't melt away with our pink fizzy bath bombs. So what is a modern woman to do?
Here are 4 things to consider if you are a woman in Portland and you are looking for help, yourself, or a better
1. Co-Working Space
May moms have decided to contribute financially to their family while also being the primary caretaker for their kids. May have said, they love being a mom but have enjoyed working and love how it helps their self-esteem, creative expression, and the family's bottom line financially. However, that can't always happen at home. Space gets overwhelmed, the distractions are endless, and the kids are still there asking for you.
Being able to do work, but not have the full weight of renting office space, allows for productivity and community building.
2. Group Classes or Outings
It may not be possible to hire a babysitter or nanny for help when you want to exercise or socialize. Yoga, music classes, or library meet-ups are opportunities to find a group of parents with similarly aged children. When kids are the same age, it is not uncommon to have the same questions, concerns, and milestones. Those outings could connect you with a network of people to lean on, share, and support, and help to create a tribe of your own for this day and age.
3. Letting go…
Letting go of things society has told us are essential...but are actually just making our stress out of control. It's being discussed more than partners probably believe: it's easier just to do the task, because when asking for help, it only means it won't get done right and only adds more work to "fix" it afterward. Sound familiar?
One of the significant stresses for women in the 21st century is the struggle to "have it all." Moreover, this lie doesn't die, and we needs to start saying the truth: we can't have it all. We can't have it all, do it all, and be it all for everyone. Not as we live and breath today. So as we are all working on bettering ourselves and overcoming life's hurdles, pause and recognize that some of the obstacles are self-imposed. Some of those hurdles are perpetuated by people or companies who have a vested interest in making you believe that is your hurdle. Also, some are heavy hypothetical pieces of baggage that were put on you when you didn't even recognize it was happening. Those last ones belong to someone else entirely, and you don't have to carry those anymore.
The next time you feel yourself getting angry because you are rushing to get it all done, check and see if you even need to do it at all.
Does dinner need to be ready at 6 pm?
Do you have to make homemade cookies for the class?
Why are you sending holiday cards?
R.S.V.P your regrets.
4. Redesign your Responsibilities
Build the framework and have hard conversations in your relationships to make caretaking, raising, and tending to a family the work of both parents.
For families with two parents, the science is in: on average a husband creates seven additional hours of housework. However, the extra work isn't one of the most significant stressors - it's the overall lack of personal attention paid to the small details that keep households running. Husbands say over and over, "just tell me what you want me to do." Without taking any time to acknowledge they have released their responsibility from "seeing." Seeing the garbage needs to go out. Seeing the forms for school. Seeing the cat or dog food is getting low. Seeing the storage bin that needs to be put away. Seeing the birthday planning and family traditions. And it just keeps going.
One of the most worthwhile investments in self-care and a child-rearing is for both partners to understand the value emotional labor has for the entire family, and start talking about how the whole family can participate in providing those skills.
A great starting point are some questions you can answer together: What are your family values? And how does everyone participate in upholding those values?