I love sharing my tips with you on how to take better care of yourself while you’re taking care of your babies (and everything else), it’s truly my life’s work. But today? I’m sharing some advice with someone else in mind…
This one here is for your partner/husband/co-parent, to try to help them support you more.
But it may not be what you think. If you’ve known me for a while now, you know I don’t advocate that we rely on others to always take care of us (in my experience, this just doesn’t seem to work out every time). Instead, the approach I emphasize in my teaching is for us to learn how to take ownership over our own care. My care philosophy is that we, as women, have the ability and the responsibility (as in, the “ability to respond” to the world) for our own well-being.
But – and this is extremely true when you’re a new mom – there are crucial elements of your self-care that involve other folks, especially your partner . For example, recognizing that a circle of supporters is essential, whether it’s the family that you’re born with (aka This Is Us), or the one that you assemble as an adult (aka FX’s Pose).
Additionally, ya gotta ask for what you need from those you love. It’s reasonable to expect your loved ones to make the effort to get to know you, but assume that they can read your mind every moment, and you’ve got a recipe for constant heartache. And you must get comfy with receiving the gifts that others offer to you, instead of pushing them away or minimizing.
Your partner/husband/co-parent is inherently one of the main players in this game. So, by understanding that (s)he is key to your care, how do you get what you need from him or her?
It’s a complicated question, and one that I – as a wife in an intercultural, bilingual, bicoastal marriage where miscommunication is the norm – am always exploring.
That said, I’ve got a simple, 3-step process that can be immensely useful when, well, actually used:
Hear, Hug, Help.
So, may I recommend a couple options for you to proceed. Either (a) read the info below and share it with your partner in a neutral, safe space, or (2) send them a link to this post (and/or the link to the Papas + Partners page right here):
And for you papas + partners, here’s how it works:
Step 1. HEAR. Listen to her, both what she says (her verbal language) and how she “seems” (her nonverbal). Does she seem sad or lonely? Sit with her. Ask how she’s feeling, and then give her your full attention (i.e., no cell phones). Is she frustrated or exhausted? Encourage her to do things that make her feel good. You can take care of mom in many ways, but she also has to take care of herself.
Step 2. HUG. It almost seems too easy, but sometimes your new mom just needs to be held. A warm hug, a kiss on the forehead, taking her hand when you’re walking. (Bonus: give her a compliment too, about how great a mom she is.)
Step 3. HELP. New motherhood is like having a bunch of new jobs at one time – and having to do them all without a boss or staff helping you figure out what to do (wouldn’t that suck?). Pay attention to what she’s doing, and what may still need to be done, but she hasn’t gotten around to it yet. Examples: Do the dishes. Take out the trash. Take the baby (while she takes care of herself!). Scoop the litter box. HELP HER SLEEP. Sweep the floor. Change the diaper (and, for the love, please put it in the diaper bin, too!). Pick up the milk at the store. Fold the clothes. These small things can make a huge difference in how she feels.