At work, I regularly remind the college students I work with to focus on what they can control and not on the things they can’t control. It’s far too easy, especially in new and stressful situations, to feel a loss of control. What I find is that you have to examine your situation and determine, make a list of, what you can control and what you can not control. This not only saves you from wasting time on the things you can’t control, but it helps you to regain ownership over the things you can control. It helps knowing that you have ownership over aspects of your situations, lifestyle, and/or outcome, while also giving you a freedom to let go of the things you can not control.
I personally think this philosophy can be applied to any situation in life. It isn’t easy, especially when you want to control the things you can’t control, but it’s a healthy practice to get into. Learning to focus on yourself can be empowering and it is equally freeing to let go of the things (or people) you can’t control.
In postpartum recovery, there are a variety of things a woman can and can not control. I personally find, especially in those first few months postpartum, that there are far more things you can’t control than things you can. I think that’s what makes postpartum recovery difficult is that there’s just so much that’s out of your control. I know what I’d like to do, how I’d like to feel, and how I’d like to spend my time, but it’s a season full of change and learning.
With Magnolia, my first, I put my type-A personality to use before her arrival and planned, planned, planned. It all came from a good place, but I quickly learned that there’s just so much you can’t control with kids, let alone in postpartum recovery. Being a parent has truly taught me to roll with the punches, to let go of my own expectations, and to enjoy the here and now.
Although I’m only 3 weeks into my second postpartum experience, I can honestly say I have had a much more enjoyable experience so far because I have a better sense of what to let go of. I’m not perfect, and I still stressed over things that are out of my control, but I’m trying to put more eggs in the baskets of things I can control this time around.
Although I knew my emotions would be out of my control, thanks to hormones, I decided to focus on outlets that would bring me joy. I am focused on spending time with my kids, eating wholesome foods to fuel lactation, going on walks with Kinnick as a way to get outside and to keep my body moving, and resting during my maternity leave.
Although I knew I’d need to wait out the 6 weeks before returning to my favorite fitness routines, I am trying to focus on the stress relief movement brings to my postpartum recovery. Although I knew weight loss was not what I should be focusing on at this point postpartum, I decided to focus on fueling my body for breastfeeding. Although I knew I’d struggle with how quickly my return to work would come, I am striving to live in the moment and to enjoy each moment I have at home with my kids.
It isn’t easy, and there are plenty of moments in which I worry or stress over things I can’t control, but I love how freeing it is to focus on what I can control, instead of on things I can’t. In this moment, I am enjoying each and every minute with Kinnick while I’m on maternity leave, I am overjoyed to see Magnolia grow into her role as big sister, I am eating lots of wholesome foods with the goal of fueling my body for lactation, I am enjoying walks with Kinnick each day, and I’m learning to ask and accept help.
I am far from an expert, but I thought it might be helpful to share my varying experiences and how I’m feeling this time around. I am really looking forward to enjoying these next 3 weeks before I head back to work part-time and I know with each passing day, I’ll need to focus more and more on the here and now instead of worrying about my return to work and leaving Kinnick. One step at a time and one day at a time! Focusing on what I can control and not on what I can’t.