*FOMO previously defined by Alamo City Mom Blog post “It’s OK to Say No: Missing Out on FOMO.”
Being a new mom means getting used to all sorts of things. For me one of these is FOMO—or more accurately, managing the FOMO.
These days my FOMO is off the charts. Being a new mom is like living in a parallel universe. You have the same friends, you live in the same house, have the same job, etc. But one day you are pregnant and the next day you have a newborn and that’s when it gets real.
I didn’t know I truly knew the word “no” until after my daughter was born and I became a person who was home to put her to bed five or six nights a week. I’m definitely not a homebody, so this has been a real adjustment.
Toward the end of my pregnancy I slowed down with accepting social engagements and even told my husband that maybe we should hang out at home rather than hope I make it through one more movie at the theater. Though I still had stuff on my calendar during my 40th week of my pregnancy (call me optimistic) I didn’t end up going to it because I thought each night could be THE night. It was huge for me to have pass on stuff because I’ll go stir crazy if I’m at home too many days in a row and, again, I have FOMO.
Before becoming pregnant, I could easily go a couple of weeks at a time without grocery shopping because I knew I wouldn’t be home to eat anything I bought. Justin, my husband, is more than competent in the kitchen, so I knew he could fend for himself.
My husband and I were the go-to couple when our friends with kids wanted a night out. For a good time call they called Ariana and Justin. We were a sure thing. Not being parents but thinking we had a basic understanding of how it worked, we knew a night out was a big deal, so we made sure it was a night they wouldn’t forget (or alternatively couldn’t remember).
Before my baby girl was born my FOMO simply stretched my time management skills to the max when I would see how many things I could do in one weekend.
Now as the mother to a smiling, tummy-timing, five-month-old my FOMO is a mixed bag. All those awesome events I went to are still going on. But there’s some awesomeness happening at home too. And if I go out, then it better be pretty freaking awesome because I’m leaving part of my heart at home, even if she is asleep by 9:00 P.M.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want to participate in things outside of the home. That’s why I still volunteer, work, and spend some child-free time with friends. And I’m lucky to have a spouse who understands these needs and supports my desire to fulfill them.
I’m also very lucky to have a mother, Anabel’s abuelita, affectionately known as “Ita,” who would stop time to get to spend time with her granddaughter. She knows the importance of working to maintain that balance.
FOMO still lingers, and I’m working on managing it.
I haven’t seen a movie in the theater in over five months. This is huge for someone who went almost weekly with her husband leading up to the birth of our bundle of joy. The quick fix? Cable TV and on demand programming with the sound of monitor static filling any tense moments during a movie.
As a working mom I’m still making the breastfeeding thing work because of the FOMO of that time with my daughter. I’ve been fortunate to have a great experience with it and love our mornings together.
Which brings me to work. I went back to work. I love what I do, but do I love it more than my daughter? No, I don’t, but I know that I need it. Towards the end of my maternity leave, of which I treasured every moment, I definitely had cabin fever. I had been getting out of the house, both with Anabel and on my own during that time. It wasn’t enough for me. As it turns out, for the moment at least, I need to work. Again, I’m super lucky because Ita watches my little love at my house every day, sending me pictures and videos from time to time. I find work is good for me and I enjoy it. I’ve heard other working moms say that it makes them better at being a mother. Now I get what they are saying. I’m able to focus on work while at work and then devote my attention to Anabel when I’m home.
I figured I couldn’t be the only one feeling this way. And I know that mom guilt is also a thing, but I think FOMO contributes to it. You can feel guilty taking that time for yourself to do the things you hate missing out on, but it doesn’t have to be that way! I talked to some friends about the FOMO phenomenon, and we agreed there are a few ways to try managing it:
- Give yourself permission. You deserve that time to be you and reconnect with what you enjoy doing. If that means being away from home in the evening, give yourself the permission to have a couple of evenings a week when you are OK with not being home for bedtime. If you are working, the mommy guilt associated with this can be intense, but the time away can also be so good for you and re-energize you for mommy time. I don’t do this every week, because my husband needs time too, but we are working on it together.
- Make it a family affair. When you can, incorporate your new mini me into what you love to do: eating out at a restaurant that is more child-friendly or taking your kiddo on that run you so desperately miss getting in every day.
- Polish the gold. Remember the Girl Scout song lyrics: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, and the other is gold.” (You’re welcome for getting it stuck in your head for the next 15 minutes!) Well, you might find yourself looking at your friend list and re-prioritizing who you’ll spend time with away from your kiddo. Remember the bit about awesomeness happening at home? Reconsider the hunt for silver and spend more time polishing the gold you already have. You also might find yourself surprised at some of the friendships that evolve as your family life does.
- Shut it down. When you can’t stop obsessively scrolling through social media posts and lamenting your absence at this or that to your partner, you are just feeding the FOMO. Nothing sets it off like a picture of friends out on the town when you’re about to put the baby to bed. That’s when it’s time to just unplug. Turn off the stuff that reminds you of what you’re “missing” and focus on what you have by getting more cuddles and giggle time with your sweet new baby.
Join me in saying “no” to New Mom FOMO.