How can new mothers adjust to the 'New Normal'
Updated: May 25, 2020
Nearly a month into the lockdown my home and mind were a mess. The expectation: Lounging in my cozy, beautiful nest with my husband and six-month young son. The reality: Dirty dishes that carried onto the next day, the Nursery vanishing under a mountain of laundry and our conversation reduced to “Who would change Joy's diaper? I mopped, your turn!”
Watsapp forwards about ways to pass the time made me wary. I would wonder who these people were. For my doctor husband, with work and our baby, it was like working daily night shifts. “Tomorrow!” became our motto. Tomorrow the home would sparkle. Tomorrow we would get six hours of sleep. Tomorrow the pandemic would start subsiding.
The lifestyle vloggers who inspired me by their energy, organization and well-cared-for babies seemed surreal. My morning routine began with attempts to catch more sleep. I even tried turning my little morning person into a night bird! Failing that I would wade over to the kitchen for fixing us a meal, missing our cook. For all the spirituality I practiced and conscious parenting I strove for, I would put our baby in his pram with rhymes playing on TV. Throughout the day my strategy for doing chores was leaving Joy on the mat with his toys. When he would crawl over crying every single time, I would pull my hair in frustration. Worst of all I became bitter toward family videocalls (dressing up was a chore too) and people who cribbed about being too free now.
Then came my baby's 7th month b'day. As I baked the "5-minute easy lazy lockdown cake" that I had learned off the 'net, it hit me that he was missing out not just on socialization and being outdoors but also quality time with his suddenly overwhelmed parents. As an epiphany, just then I heard on TV, "The pandemic may come in waves. Our lifestyles would shift – get used to the new normal".
That line was the shift I needed.
“No roti tonight? Should I make it?” Asked my husband later.
“Next you would ask for Chutney and ginger juliennes like our parents. Can’t we do with one rice and one roti meal daily?”
He smiled, “I can do with two maggi meals, sweetheart.” That showed we were on the same page.
Our To-Do list had begun with “Declutter home.” We had failed to do that but now we set out to declutter our To-Do list itself. Daily cleaning was replaced with alternate day schedule. Unnecessary videocalls got turned down. Repainting the nursery got chucked for now. Party clothes were swiftly packed away. My carefully crafted Baby Activity list, with age-appropriate activities for mental stimulation was thrown away.
Instead we both decided to wake with the baby and straightaway get on the playmat with him. The morning playtime made Joy happy and spent, and by the time I would earlier get up like a zombie, we were happily down for our first nap! Joy's highchair cancellation wasn't a cause for complaining rather an excuse to enjoy more finger foods and Baby-led weaning. Our child basked in the new attention. We realized that the dishes won't cry if neglected but our baby would. Chore time was spent inventing stories and games about brooms (thanks to a certain Ms. Rowling) and washing machines. Much of parenting is prioritizing, that is just what we did.
I still dislike housework and I miss my maids. Yet being involved, present parents instead of right-brained, nanny-dependent ones is our new normal.
Dr. Shubha Jaggi