1. Clarify what your specific concerns are
Get out a pen and paper, and write down what your specific concerns are about being a mother. What are the aspects that generate the most anxiety, and what elements of motherhood do you feel that you may not be able for?
  • Do you worry that you won’t be able to handle the sleep disruption, or the daily grind of Groundhog Day, or not being able to just walk out of the door at a moment’s notice?
  • Are you anxious about how to deal with your child being ill, or teething, or not sleeping?
  • Are your concerns around how having a baby will impact your relationship/ life/ career/ friendships?
  • Do you feel alone in this journey, and that you will not have enough support?
Once you clarify the particular worries, then you have taken the big vague fear that you ‘won’t be able for motherhood’ and broken it down into manageable aspects about which you can do something.
2. Eat the elephant one bite at a time
Now that you have gotten a handle on specifically what concerns you and have chunked it all down, take each worry on its own and find a solution for it – something that would make things ok. For example, if you worried about being able to cope with your baby not sleeping, then doing some research on best practice in this area and having the contact details of some infant sleep experts would soothe that concern. You could get some tips on this from MummyPages even before your child is born, so that you start with some ideas and knowledge in mind.
If you felt that juggling a new baby with running the house and cooking dinners was going to be too much, then accepting the offer of some home-cooked food for the freezer from your mother would be useful, or getting a cleaner in for six months or switching to online food shopping would take a load off your plate. This is about considering each worry and coming up with possible solutions - thus you are eating that elephant one bite at a time, rather than trying to do it all at once, which is unrealistic.
3. Get support from someone who has been in your shoes
In life, but especially when it comes to parenting, there is nothing as valuable as experience, and so picking the brains of someone who has been down this road before you is a hugely useful thing to do. Choose someone calm and capable, who has navigated their way through the challenges of parenting a small baby, and talk to them about the worries you have written down. Ask them to help you come up with solutions to these concerns, so that you will at least have a proven plan for each situation. Even though that plan may well end up being shelved when the time comes, it will give you peace of mind to have it nonetheless, because it helps you to feel prepared in some small way for what lies ahead.
The truth is that no one is ever really prepared for parenthood, however with some useful plans in place beforehand, it can help you realise that no one actually has all the answers anyway, and with children it is often about trying things and seeing what works.
4. Focus on what you can do
Do you think that you will be able to hold your baby, smile at them and keep them clothed and warm? Do not let what you are not sure about get in the way of what you actually do know that you will be able to do. When you think about being a mother, be sure to include these thoughts and images in your head as they can often get lost in amongst the worries and fears.
5. Ensure that your expectations are realistic
Talk to the experienced parent about what motherhood is really like, about what would be reasonable expectations for you as the mother of a new baby. Because what we often do is compare other people’s outside with our inside – “but other people seem to be handling things ok, whereas I am struggling”. Are they really handling it? Really? Most, if not all parents will struggle at some stage, as this baby does not come with an instruction booklet, saying “when this happens turn to page 10”. But to the outside world this struggle may not be apparent, and so it can be assumed that others take those early days of parenting in their stride. Thinking like this will only serve to make you feel inadequate, incapable and unsure of yourself. So, by talking to that person who has been where you are about to go and developing realistic expectations for this time, it ensures that you give yourself a decent chance rather than stacking obstacles in your way with unrealistic demands.
Final thought:
“It is not who you are that holds you back, it is who you think you are not” (Anonymous).
Performance and Life Coach