As hard as it might be to see right now, you will soon be on the other side and living your new normal. Take it from me.
You hear the phrase "change is hard." And it is. As humans, we are creatures of habit. We like what we know. I mean, I've been wearing the same pair of sole-less sandals for years, and we might have a presidential election with the names Bush and Clinton on the ballot. But come on, who can blame us? The same? The same is easy.
But sometimes, like it or not, things must change.
Like when two months ago my husband and I welcomed our third child into the world, I started a small business, our nanny quit, we put our house up for sale, bought a new one, renovated a kitchen DIY, and moved — all in a matter of weeks. Let me just say, I DO NOT recommend taking on all this change at once. It kinda sucked. But I've lived to tell the tale. So if you are about to have some big life changes or know someone who is, here are some things I learned along the way:
1. Let go of the less important things and be OK with that.
At one point when the toddlers were unpacking the box I just packed, the newborn blew out the diaper I just put on him, and breast milk began to soak through three layers of shirts. As I sat there, seemingly oblivious, my mom looked at me and asked, "What kind of drugs are you on?" Drugs? No. It's called self-preservation. You have bigger things taking up time and headspace, so you can’t worry about every little thing. Let yourself just not give a shit sometimes. Give yourself a break. Ignore the mess. Ignore your own rules.
2. Give yourself space to complain, and surround yourself with people who will validate your feelings.
Nervous? Apprehensive? Overwhelmed? Let it out. Acknowledge how you’re feeling and whine, cry, or if you’re like me, cry-laugh with the people in your life who will say, “Oh honey, I know this is tough, but you can do it.” And hopefully those people will also bring you coffee and alcohol. See #6.
3. Bring along a "lovie."
Just because some things in your life are changing doesn’t mean everything has to. Keep your comfort items close and you might just be a little braver as you enter your new situation. Bring that tried-and-true coffee mug with you to your new job. Rewatch your favorite TV series to bring some familiarity (and maybe a helpful distraction) to an otherwise tumultuous time. Order take-out from your favorite restaurant for your first meal in your new house. Whatever your security blanket is, use it.
4. Bid farewell to the old.
Sometimes new things bring with them the loss of others. For me, I was saying goodbye to our first home and the place where all my babies were born. Goodbye to the babyhood of my second child who would now be a big brother. Goodbye to pregnancy and birth — two things I actually like and will likely never do again. It’s OK to grieve the things you used to love and will no longer have. In fact, it’s good and healthy and can even make way for the ability to do the next piece of advice . . .
5. Embrace it.
Change IS hard, but it can also be really awesome. Whether it's a new baby, house, job, school, relationship, or charting some unfamiliar territory, the uncertainty change poses for the future can be stressful, but don't let that overshadow all the good that comes along with newness. Firsts. Butterflies. The thrill. New Relationship Energy. The moments and people that wouldn't exist if it weren't for your new path. So embrace it. Give change a big ol' squeeze and go with it. As I often say to my doula clients, “Ride that wave. Don’t let the wave knock you down. Stay on top of it. You own this.”
6. Deep breathing, coffee, and alcohol.
As hard as it might be to see right now, you will soon be on the other side and living your new normal. Take it from me. The house sold, the boxes got unpacked, and the baby fits into our family as if he’s always been a part of it. And just when I am thinking I’ve got this all figured out . . . another change looms. Someone remind me to read this article in two weeks when my maternity leave ends and we all must adjust to mama working a 9-5.