As we approach Valentine’s Day I often think back to my first as a new mom, and how much disappointment I felt on “Love Day” that year. On a day that I thought was supposed to be brimming with affection, adornment and happiness, I cried my way through dinner.

Jack was 5 weeks old at the time, and it was the first time my husband and I were going out since he was born. My parents came over to watch him so we could spend a few hours together, alone. But I was beyond exhausted, and once we left for the restaurant, the tears wouldn’t stop. But why was I so upset? I was going out like I thought I wanted? The truth was, I needed sleep. I needed time for myself. I needed to ask for help, so I could focus on myself — even for just a little bit.

As a new mom, the disappointment felt extra heavy, which is why I am sharing this story with you. Maybe this message will encourage you to get ahead of it a little bit and think about what will make you feel the best this Valentines Day.

You may be missing parts of your identity from before you became a mom (that’s common and ok!), or missing the relationships you had with friends which now seem challenging to nourish. If this is the case, consider planning a Galentines get-together, or even just a coffee date with a good friend where you can fully be present.

Maybe you are missing your relationship with your partner (also common!) because your time together now always includes your little one. Talk with them about what you would like to do together to celebrate, so you both have clear expectations for the day, and neither of you are left feeling disappointed.

Ask directly for the things that you want. A handwritten card? A bouquet of your favorite flowers? Time alone? I promise your partner wants to know what will make you happy because they do not want to disappoint you either!

However you decide you want to spend the day, (or any of your time for that matter!) I encourage you to think about yourself and what brings you joy and happiness in this new season of your life. Practice asking for the support you need in order to do those things. Say no to the things that cause you extra stress. Find moments for yourself, even if your pre-baby self would laugh at how you choose to spend them! This Valentine’s Day, be your own Valentine, first.

Sending you my love! Xx, Alex