As a mom of a newborn, it’s easy to forget your own needs. Your little bundle of joy becomes your biggest priority and life becomes a balancing act of work and family. The thought of taking time for self-care might seem like one more thing added to your plate that feels unnecessary or perhaps you feel guilty focusing on yourself. As veteran mothers and experts will tell you, self-care is far from selfish because it puts you in a better position to take care of others, especially baby. Not all self-care revolves around indulgent activities either. Here are some tips new mamas can follow to show themselves some love.
Sleep (or Rest) When Baby Does
One of the biggest challenges in caring for a newborn is lack of sleep but don’t sacrifice this essential health need altogether. Try to sleep when your baby does. If you are unable to take those afternoon naps, simply rest instead. It’s tempting to fold that laundry you never get to anymore or clean the kitchen, but at the end of the day, it’s your body that suffers if you don’t give it the downtime it needs. If you can’t sleep, do what relaxes you. Read a book for example. Those dirty dishes and piles of laundry will still be there when you have the energy to tackle them.
Take the Time to Shower and Get Ready for the Day
Before motherhood, you wouldn’t think twice about taking a shower and doing whatever you needed to do to get ready for the day. Having a baby doesn’t change this. Give yourself the opportunity to get clean and keep up with your daily beauty routine to feel refreshed and more like the normal you. Bring baby into the bathroom with you and have him relax in his lounger. Make it a fun experience and play peek-a-boo with the shower door or curtain. You might find yourself spending less time getting ready with a fussy baby, but think how much better you feel when you’re able to care for your hygiene and appearance.
Pick Out Some Postpartum Clothes
If retail therapy was your favorite type of self-care before motherhood, think about investing in some postpartum clothes. So many mamas spend time and energy before they’re due looking for maternity clothes, but after birth your body continues to go through changes where chances are, they no longer fit. Before your baby is due, look for some clothing that will be forgiving to a changing body figure. Look for long, flowy dresses, or for those colder months, consider a few pairs of leggings and baggy sweaters.
Get Out of the House
With a new baby, not leaving your house for weeks is common. However, after a few months you might get so used to the idea of staying at home that you never go out. If you feel the latter is happening to you, there’s no need to pressure yourself to get out there, but know that spending social time with family and friends is a great way to feel like your old self again. Take that time to reconnect with the important people in your life, even if you’re getting out of the house for just an hour to meet a friend for a cup of coffee with baby in tow. These connections aren’t just important to reestablish your social life but to build a system of support for when you need help.
Make Time to Exercise
Once you’re cleared by your doctor for physical activities once again, don’t just focus on fitness for weight loss. Exercise is a great way to boost your mood, no matter how long it takes to get your body back. You don’t need to stress yourself out with grueling cardio everyday. Get out for walks as your little one explores the world from his stroller or practice yoga in your living room. Mommy & Me classes are another great way to not only get out of the house and get exercise, but they give you the opportunity to meet other moms.
Be Kind to Yourself
When we normally think of self-care, we imagine a sweet treat from Starbucks or a trip to the hair salon to get pampered, but perhaps the best way you can practice self-care is by not being hard on yourself. Motherhood is a big adjustment and it will take some time to adjust to your new normal. Your days will be filled with ups and downs. It’s important not to focus on the negatives and celebrate little victories. Set realistic expectations for yourself. By doing so you’ll be able to promote more happiness and find self-kindness in stressful situations.