All about … do we even talk about it …

Interestingly, I have numerous conversations with lots of my mums who say that they don’t want to go back to work or they would like to go back for x number of days but they aren’t sure whether the organisation they work for will support them or that they can consider it financially.  I have even known some mums go back because they have been refused part time done the required length of time and then moved to a more sympathetic employer.

There have been some clients who have even changed career paths or become WAHM (Work At Home Mums), retraining (acquiring new skills) or utilising their skill base (crafting, writing or even a skill linked to their previous working life by going into a consultancy role which fits around their little ones).

I am a prime example I didn’t want to go back into teaching full time after the birth of our first child and was lucky to do supply for a short time and then was offered a job that I could negotiate my time and managed two half days away to do my own thing.  I had already decided I wanted to retrain after the birth of our daughter and I was able to facilitate this by going to training once a month over a period of 12 months.  I continued my professional development for a further two years and by the time the school I was at closed due to the restructure of the education system in our area, I had already established myself in business and started to build up a client base.  My husband had even retrained during the final year and had another string to his bow.  So we had the opportunity and means to undertake this and the time.  We are very lucky that we could choose which worlds we wanted to step into and each week I step into one and then the other;  I am very blessed.

There are some mums who want to go back to work full time or feel that they have to because they are the main earner in the family.  What happens then?  I have met a few clients who have SAHD (Stay at Home Dads) and some in reality work from home whilst being the primary carer of their little one.  Does it work?  It must do for the families concerned and it’s not unusual to see a dad come along to a class with their little one and learn to massage or take part in baby music, stay & play etc.  They soon find that they are accepted into the mix with the other mums or they have roped in other dads to come along.

The following article I found on and thought it was interesting (US focus but geography is nothing in the grand scheme of things) – Changing fathers

The families I have had the honour to meet & support will tell me that it can be very difficult.  Dad may be lucky and has paternity leave or has managed to put together his leave allocation and is able to be at home to support his other half, each other and their baby.  I have met some who weren’t able to use their allocation again linked to finances and were back at work within 7 days and found it challenging with lack of sleep at night, with the pressures of looking after the household while mum focused on the baby.  Cooking, cleaning, laundry and trying to support as much as possible but for some feeling very left out.  Striking a balance took a little while (if it ever happened – some are very open and honest about how they felt at this time).  Some would come home and be handed a baby by a tearful mum and find themselves immersed into a baby who needed changing, who was crying or just needed entertaining.  The mum needing some much needed “me” time!  The pressures on the new family, especially if there is limited support available from family and friends can be overwhelming.  I’m not surprised when I hear that the couple are having relationship difficulties due to the increased pressures.  Mum feels isolated, so does dad especially when he is out all day at work and thinking about what he is coming home to.  Building it into some huge monster when it may not be.  I know it’s not always like this but for some families this has been their experience.

So how do they “cope”?

1)  tag team the baby – share the care
2)  work gently with the baby to support their current pattern (note I don’t mention the word routine – I hate the word with a vengeance) a baby isn’t born with a calendar or clock , so may not know that it’s night time and should be asleep.  This may take a while to happen and for some it can be a little longer to switch from day to night and sorry to say some may not really get the hang of it until they are a little older.
3)  remember to support each other
4)  spend quality time together as a family and as a couple, remeber to build in some social time with friends when it feels right.
5)  If any friends offer to give you some time out then use it to chill together – a meal or go to the cinema (you have to be in the right space to feel that this is right for you)
6) if you need some time to yourself be open and honest and say “I would like ….”
7)  if anyone offers you some support accept it, remember they may have been where you are and remember it well …
8)  If you have visitors coming tie them down to a time and day, no waiting around feeling frustrated & anxious.
9)  Don’t be afraid to ask them to pick you up a pint of milk or some groceries if they are coming to visit.
10)  Organise your online shopping to coincide with a planned visitor … I am sure they won’t mind and they can support you, especially if baby needs feeding and you have your hands full.  Many a time I have walked in to support clients and they have said ohh x will be here between a & b with the online shop.  Or can you pop in to get me x, y & z as I forgot to put it on the online shop.
11)  Remember that everyone can help, they don’t need to be a baby expert.  They have the skills to put a wash in the machine and hang the laundry up or put it in the dryer, push the hoover around and put the dishes on the washing machine or make you a cup of tea!
12)  Can your other half work from home?  Is this an option where he can be there to support whilst also fulfilling the needs of the business he works for or in some cases owns?

I thought this article was interesting and may be useful.

We rarely discuss PND in men, unless of course you have been to one of my birth preparation classes.  According to Netmums 10% of dads suffer with PND.  The following is from the Netmums link below:

Other classic reasons thought to be associated with depression in men include:-

  • inevitable changes to lifestyle and routines
  • coming to terms with fatherhood and all the emotional, physical changes and sense of responsibility that it brings with it.
  • financial concerns
  • thoughts and feelings of inadequacy, that they are not ‘up to the job’ or indeed ‘ready to be a father’.
  • a history of depression often means men may be more susceptible to PND after the birth of their baby.
  • The strain of coping with their partners PND 

How you can support your partner?

  • Keep communication levels up – ask your partner how he’s feeling, encourage him to express his emotions and talk about your life together. Just asking him how HE is now and again can make him feel cared about. In fact this type of communication is especially important when a new baby comes into the world as it will make you both feel important and wanted, amidst the continuous drum of routines, naps and feeding.
  • Keep physically active – a brisk walk in the park one afternoon each week can do wonders for the soul and make you both feel better about things.
  • Encourage him to meet up with friends at least once a week, or more if you think it might help. Socialising outside of the family unit can be a great remedy for depressed dads – it reminds them that they are an individual, that there are other things going on in the world, other people to make them laugh etc.
  • Chatting to other dads going through a similar experience can help. Our dads forum is a great place to share thoughts, feelings and advice and provides an in-direct and instant mode of support.
  • Invest time in hobbies or encourage your partner to take up a new interest such as fishing, art or photography. The latter is a great way to help them bond with their baby and there may even be some local classes they can join where they can really immerse themselves in the subject, meet new people and have some ‘time-out’.

If you find that the depression isn’t easing, you could suggest counselling. Some men might find the thought of revealing their thoughts to a complete stranger horrifying, but statistics show that it can be surprisingly effective at easing the symptoms of depression and helping people to think more positively.

Your first port of call is your GP who will be able to provide a list of local support resources and refer your partner for counselling. You can also use the help resources below to find out more about gaining support locally. See link below – Netmums

Local sources as well as your GP will be able to direct you to appropriate support (if you feel you would like to chat about how you are feeling, the pressures of fatherhood).  There is also Netmums this is the text borrowed above.

Perhaps there is a local meditation or yoga group just for dads/men in your local area?  Check with local yoga teachers or perhaps look here

Stay focused, breath & relax

Lots of love

Claire x


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