I’m here to share my experience with you as a military mom and spouse to our three girls.
No one really tells you how this whole mother thing is going to pan out. I find it quite exhausting to tell you the truth. They offer you all of these classes on the basics when your baby is first born, like breastfeeding, nutrition, caring for the baby, the importance of touch, maybe a little bit on postpartum depression. But we need to talk more about self-care after baby.
When my husband and I got married the plan was always that we would start a family after a few years of enjoying each other, and then I would leave my job and become a stay-at-home-mom. This sounds perfect until you start having children – which no one can prepare you for!
My girls are bigger now, but this job never gets easier! Honestly, I personally think it gets harder.
Every phase has its own challenges, but today I want to focus on those fresh newborn days when no one knows what the hell is going on. I want to share a few things that I wish I would have known, or maybe even done a little differently. As a new mom, it is crucial to have resources for when you feel like you need help. High on this list of resources should be your marriage. But what to do when you need more support? Where do we turn?
Life is always hard, but being married to a soldier adds a whole new set of challenges.
As a military family, there is no set schedule, no guaranteed days off and you know as the spouse that you are the sole everything for everything! It’s a struggle and it has caused a lot of resentment for me in my marriage. I try to have an open mind about it all, but damn it those years were not easy!
I had all three of our girls in a little under five years and Mike missed a lot of those crazy days! He still misses a lot of those crazy days and it’s exhausting. But when your husband is in the military and has made that commitment there is no other option. They work endless hours and we get to be the sole caregiver. Most of the time with family too far away to help.
I don’t want to get into the details of my personal journey but instead, challenge you to do some things that will give you a break. These three things are the most important lessons I learned as a new mother.
1. Go into this as a team.
Even if you have kids already, sit down and figure this out together! It is hard and some days it SUCKS! But suck it up together, be in this together. Work as a team and go through the tough days together. You will come out stronger in the end I promise. Our husbands need to realize that we are working endless hours too! Just because we are at home all day doesn’t mean we aren’t working!
Talk about what your roles are and try to understand one another. I think that my husband and I always thought we knew what the other one was doing. In the end, we had no clue. I will never understand the stress of his job and he will never fully understand mine either. My best advice is to weather the storm together as a team and figure out how you can make home life feel equal and that both are putting in the same amount of work. Parenting is not an easy job and it was never intended for a person to do it alone.
2. Learn how to not only ask for help but accept it!
So many people offered me help. A lot of those people being my awesome military spouses. We get it! We see the mom struggling and we know when to lend a helping hand. But if you don’t let us in we can’t help you. For me it was never that I was worried about everyone thinking I had it all together, it was that I had so much anxiety around the idea of someone caring for my baby. Like what if they drop her or something lol… seriously those were the kinds of things that I feared. For the first 18 months of her life, I didn’t even let my husband give our first baby a bath and didn’t even realize I was doing it until baby number two came along and I needed help at bath time.
I wish I would have had some guidance from an expert in this area in my life. I absolutely think that I suffered from postpartum depression after every baby and my anxiety was out of this world. We deserve more resources, guidance and help after babies
3. Make time for yourself and make time for your marriage.
These are and should be two separate things. When you do something for you make sure it’s something you enjoy. Something that will refuel you and it should be relaxing! If money is an issue then get creative! Meet a friend at a park and walk for an hour, go to a coffee shop and read, or take advantage of that free gym access you have if you live on or near a base. Or go all out and get a massage. Self-care is important for you to be your best so make time for you!
Of course, your marriage needs to be a priority as well. You need to make time for you and your husband. Again I know this all adds up, but budget it and make it a priority! Find another military spouse and swap childcare for date nights. Everyone wins in this scenario! I still find myself needing to work on this. It’s the same story every single time! I get myself so deep in the hole that I can’t even see. Then it takes time to catch up and really feel like all of my ducks are in a row. Make yourself and your marriage a priority.
It’s not always easy
This life of a military spouse is not easy! There is an entire tribe of women who are living the same life as you, so please don’t ever feel like you are alone.
Reach out and ask for help, from your husband and your friends. Unfortunately, they are not mind readers and they don’t know what we want or need. Often we assume people should know what we need, but that’s never the case! Military spouses are some of the bravest, inspiring and kick-ass women I have ever met in my life. Ladies, together we can move freaking mountains so next time you need a hand just ask!