Keep Calm and Mother On

Becoming a Calm Mom

“Happy Mother’s Day!”

If you are a new mom, that phrase may generate apprehension, or mixed emotions. In the first year of motherhood, days can be hectic, filled with moments of happiness but also anxiety, sadness, and frustration. Unfortunately, friends and family may not ask about or want to discuss negative emotions.

In Becoming a Calm Mom, Deborah Roth Ledley, mother of two and an experienced cognitive behavioral therapist, says that “when we suppress thoughts that we perceive to be unacceptable, we end up feeling worse” (pp. 20–21):

There is an expectation that once your little bundle of joy is placed in your arms in the delivery room, you will immediately know how to be a mom. This is an unrealistic expectation. Learning to care for a baby takes time, as you get to know your baby and your baby gets to know you and becomes familiar with the world. As for being a calm mom, this too takes time. (p. 10)

In this book, Dr. Ledley seeks to “assure new mothers that their experiences and emotions are shared by others,” and offers strategies for how to handle the stresses of the first year of motherhood. Based on her professional and personal experiences, she developed six strategies that together, make up the Calm Mom Toolbox:

Each strategy can help you through a myriad of situations. Getting advice from our friends, moms, and sisters is great. But the six strategies differ from advice in a few ways. First, the strategies have been used for years in clinical practice, and they truly do lead to improved functioning and a greater sense of life satisfaction. Second, they each involve a learning skill. Rather than having a friend tell you what to do, or tell you what worked for her, these strategies involve a basic process through which you can figure out what works best for you. Finally, these skills can be used in many situations. They are helpful not only in your adjustment to being a new mom but are also skills you can use for the rest of your life when stress and anxiety threaten to get in the way of your living a fulfilling and enjoyable life. (p. 23)

The six strategies of the Calm Mom Toolbox are described in Chapters 2 and 3, along with numerous real-world examples. In the remaining chapters, Dr. Ledley discusses how to use these strategies to reduce related anxiety in several key areas: taking care of your baby, taking care of yourself, and nurturing your relationships with friends and family.

APA Books wishes you a happy and calm Mother’s Day.

Timothy McAdoo

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