I’m a worrier. It’s in my DNA.
I’ve always been this way, but nothing in life has triggered my racing thoughts more than becoming a mom. The moment I saw that first set of pink lines five years ago, my heart and mind were permanently occupied by another soul.
My first few months of motherhood were one long, nonstop stream of questions and what-ifs.
Is my baby eating enough?
Why is he crying so much?
Should he be sleeping through the night by now?
Are those sniffles a common cold, or something more?
I was the new mom who lay awake in the middle of the night Googling symptoms and trying to decide whether my concerns could wait until morning or if I should nudge my husband awake for a trip to the ER.
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I was the new mom who looked up pictures of rashes and bumps and compared them to every blemish I noticed on my son’s skin.
I was the new mom constantly asking, “Is this normal?”—to my mom, my best friend, the pediatrician, the online mom group, the random stranger in the baby food aisle at Target (kidding . . . kind of).
I was the new mom who would tiptoe into the nursery and risk waking up my finally-sleeping baby just to watch the rise and fall of his chest and be sure all was OK.
I was the new mom who worried. A lot. And even though there were times I told myself I needed to chill out and not stress over every little thing, it turns out I was far from alone in my new mom concerns.
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A 2019 study completed by OnePoll on behalf of Mead Johnson Nutrition concluded that on average, new moms spend 1,400 hours of their baby’s first year worried about his or her health.
1,400 hours. Let that sink in. That’s eight-and-a-half straight weeks.
And honestly? That amount is really no surprise to me.
The study, which polled 900 mothers and 100 pediatricians, went a step further and broke that “worry” into concrete actions. During the 1,400 hours, moms performed at least 330 “frantic Google searches” and 337 “calls or texts to their mother.”
The four main areas of a new mother’s concern? The overall health of her infant, whether her child is reaching the appropriate milestones, whether he’s getting the right amount of milk, and whether his growth is on course.
And all of that’s that’s just in year one.
Another study conducted by OnePoll showed that parents of kids older than a year spend about 37 hours a WEEK worrying.
Yep, sounds about right.
As kids grow, so do their parents’ concerns. Now, instead of thinking about milk production and first steps, we worry about things like their safety when they’re not with us, their overall happiness, their success in school, and how their social life is evolving.
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This same study also reported that 59 percent of parents have lost sleep worrying about their kids—to which I call bluff, because I just know the percentage has to be higher than that.
The findings of both studies point to one thing: a mother’s worry might just be the heaviest part of the mental load we carry.
So, mama—if you, like me, worry about your kids all hours of the day and night . . .
If you have the overwhelming desire for everyone to be happy and healthy and thriving . . .
And if you sometimes feel like an overprotective bundle of stress . . .
It turns out you’re actually just a really, really good mom, who loves her kids with everything she’s got.