Not many topics are off-limits when you become a new mum. Most of us will happily confess the most intimate details of giving birth or moan about our husbands. But there is one subject that still seems taboo — admitting that motherhood can be (shhh!) boring.
Sherlyn Low, 31, mum to Ava, 14 months, says, “I missed going out, seeing my friends, putting my makeup on — everything about the old me. I was bored with everyone constantly talking about babies and, if I was honest, I was bored with being a mum.”
Low is one of a growing number of women struggling with the day-to-day mundanity of motherhood. “Women’s life purpose today is not all about mothering,” says parenting expert Sue Atkins, author of Parenting Made Easy. “In the ’50s and ’60s, women weren’t expected to work and the home was very much the centre of their lives — expectations were very different. Nowadays, women are coming into motherhood a bit older, financially independent, and can sometimes find looking after a baby unstimulating. They want to be more than just a mother.”
Mothers are boring
While "mum boredom" is definitely out there, it’s not often that mothers openly admit it. Although Desperate Housewives actress and mum of two Felicity Huff man says she’s found motherhood wonderful, she adds, “Being a mum made me realise something that no one tells you — sometimes, it’s incredibly boring.”
And before falling pregnant, reality TV star Kim Kardashian voiced her doubts, snapping that mums lead “boring and miserable” lives.
Alongside boredom, new mums can sometimes feel like they don’t belong. “Feeling out of place in your new environment is incredibly common,” says parenting expert Claire Halsey. “You go from having a structured, busy, social day to one that revolves around a tiny thing who needs constant feeding, changing and soothing.”
So, why don’t we admit these feelings of frustration? Clinical psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin believes it’s down to fear of other people’s judgment. “We worry they’ll think we’re no good as mums, or unable to cope,” she says. “There’s an expectation that, if we have a healthy baby, then everything’s fi ne and we should be able to get on with it and adjust to motherhood. In fact, it’s a massive transition, which takes time.”
It’s crucial at this point to talk to family and friends you trust. “Say, ‘I worry if I get bored, it means I’m not a good mum’,” Dr Rudkin suggests. “Anyone who knows you well will reassure you it’s not true.” There are also other practical ways to deal with the repetitive feed/change/sleep routine. “Some mums find it helps to stick up a photo of their baby as they were in the hospital, when they were experiencing that first massive rush of love,” Halsey says. “It helps get you through the eighth diaper change of the day.”
Meet your needs
Meeting your own needs is essential, too. “One quick fix is to make sure you leave the house every day, otherwise it can feel like the walls are closing in,” she adds. “Research shows that being outdoors, with greenery around, has a mood-enhancing effect, so even a quick stroll to the letter box with the stroller will give you a lift.”
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Find your space
Mums’ groups can also help, although you may need to try a few before you find one you like. Mums’ groups can be hit-and-miss, says Hollie Smith, author of First-Time Mum: Surviving and Enjoying Your Baby’s First Year.
You might form an amazing bond with people you meet at your antenatal class or you might not. But it’s worth trying them out.
“Try your local library. If you don’t like the library, try mother-and-baby yoga. If they’re all driving you mad, try meeting another mum online. Somewhere out there will be a woman you can click with. And if you aim to meet just one mum you genuinely like, that friendship will probably lead to others.”
It’s also vital to do what makes you, the person, not the mum, happy. So, if you love museums or art galleries, take your baby and go. A large part of beating the feelings of baby-boredom is taking steps towards reclaiming a sense of “you” and that also means saying "yes" to any offer of babysitting.
The balancing act between looking after your baby and caring for yourself does get easier as the months pass. “When the baby’s young, the routine can be tedious, but that all changes as your little one grows up,” Atkins says.
Halsey couldn’t agree more. “The early stage of motherhood is a phase, a transition between who you were before you had children and who you are now,” she says. “With a new little person around, you’ll soon discover you haven’t lost your old life at all, but added to it.”
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