By Nicole Pelletiere
For many moms, being able to stay home with their infant—at least temporarily—sounds like a dream come true. But when you haven’t changed out of your sweats or had a real grown-up conversation in three days, all that time spent at home might start to feel a little bit like a nightmare.
The phenomenon’s known as the baby blues, and it affects up to 80 percent of new moms. Characterized by anxiety, restlessness, and loneliness, the baby blues “can start anywhere from a few days to a month after baby is born,” says Jessica Stebbins, a licensed family therapist in Rockledge, Florida who works with pregnant and post-partum women. (Post-partum depression, on the other hand, can begin as far out as 1 year after childbirth and has more serious symptoms such as hopelessness, changes in sleeping and eating, mood swings, suicidal thoughts, and loss of interest. If you are experiencing any of these, call your doctor about getting treatment.)
Experts say that the baby blues are usually the result of your hormones dropping after you deliver. If it’s just a case of getting adjusted to your new role, you may feel you’re your routine is much less than exciting. Still, there’s some creative ways on making your day-to-day more fulfilling.
Change your routine
Are the days becoming repetitive? Your baby needs structure and routine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shake things up a little bit. Listen to music and have a dance party with your baby while you clean, or listen to a book on tape while feeding him. Instead of doing laundry during naptime, do something for yourself: Give yourself a quick pedicure, call a friend, or bring the baby monitor into the bathroom while you enjoy a hot bath.
Blog it out
A blog can do more than just chronicle your adventures as a new mom. It’s a great way to share pictures and your baby’s recent milestones with far-away friends and family. Better yet—it’ll give you an outlet to vent on your most stressful days. For more tips, read ours for jump-starting your own blog.
Get up and get out
Having the blues is enough—no need to add cabin fever to the mix. Even if the weather’s dreary, plan a few outings each week to look forward to. Take your baby to storytime at the library, or sign up for a mommy-and-me class at your gym or community center.
You’re never too old to make friends—and as Stebbins explains, socializing and getting to know other moms is key to feeling supported. Browse your community website for mommy-and-me classes or meetup.com for postings from moms that meet for get-togethers in your area. There’s also national groups like MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) that also welcome new and expecting moms, and Moms Club, where you can set up play groups based on your location and child’s age.