You’ve just had a baby and now you’ll spend every waking moment tending to his or her needs. The endless diaper changes and feedings become second nature. You spend ALL your time tending to your new little bundle, but DON’T forget to take care of yourself, Mama! After becoming a new mother in November 2013 I learned very quickly that my needs were important too and I needed to take care of myself.
What I learned within the first MONTH of becoming a mother…
Take at least 30 minutes EVERY DAY for yourself. Meditate, close your eyes and daydream, take a hot shower or soothing bath, read a book (preferably something NOT related to baby), watch television, exercise – the list is endless. DON’T do housework during this “30 minute mom time.” Do something for yourself that doesn’t involve husbands/partners and baby.
During the first 2-3 weeks sleep WHENEVER you can. Honestly, you’ve probably heard it a million times – “When baby sleeps, mama sleeps.” As much as I didn’t want everyone to be right, they were. Get ALL the sleep you can those first few weeks, SERIOUSLY GET ALL THE SLEEP YOU CAN! Even if it’s only a half hour when baby takes a cat nap. Every second of sleep counts, trust me! The first 3 weeks after we came home from the hospital, I was a walking zombie because I didn’t take everyone’s advice. When Owen slept, I attempted to do housework or play games on my cell phone. Big mistake. You’ll get burned out really fast if you don’t get sleep. If hubby (or partner or family member) offer to watch the baby while you take a nap – LET THEM. Sleep is important, especially when you need to fully function so you can take care of baby.
Have that glass of wine or beer – because you CAN! My OB told me that having one small glass of wine per day after pregnancy, EVEN IF BREASTFEEDING, is absolutely fine. If you’re like me and missed having wine during those long 9 months of pregnancy, a glass will be in order when you get home. Do it for YOU.
Start playdates early. Even though the kids won’t be old enough to play or interact, YOU will need the interaction with other ADULTS. I learned this after a few weeks. I realized I had been talking to my husband (about the baby) and to my son and nobody else (in person). Luckily, our friends had a baby 10 days before we did so we called them up and scheduled a get together immediately. It was GREAT being around other adults and having a conversation about something other than baby (although that was a good chunk). Regardless, just seeing and being around other adults was a lifesaver.
Be sure to eat. Between trying to take care of Owen, feeding him and somehow keep the house semi-clean, I found there wasn’t a lot of time for me to eat. Therefore, I rarely ate those first few weeks. THIS IS NOT GOOD. You should be eating healthy and frequently. When feeding baby, whether via breast or bottle, have a snack. When baby goes down for a nap, have a quick snack and then nap yourself. Be sure to have a hearty meal at least once per day! Not only will food nourish your body, it will keep your energy up – and boy, do you need that energy!
Get out of the house at least once a week. If you have a spring, summer or early autumn baby, getting out of the house isn’t an issue since you can take baby out in the stroller for walks. But, if you’re like me and you had a winter baby, it’s hard to get out WITH baby because it’s too frigid outside. If you can’t take baby for an outing (we were advised to wait 8 weeks due to flu season), have someone (husband, partner, parent) watch the kiddo while you get a manicure, go shopping, run errands, exercise, etc. Getting out BY YOURSELF will keep you sane. I promise you will need this.
Continue your morning routine. Yes, you had a baby and will generally have less time to do everything nowadays, but TRY to stick to the morning routine you had prior to baby, and even prior to pregnancy. Get dressed daily. You will feel 100% better if you get up and get dressed instead of lounging around in your jammies. Of course, there’ll be one or two days where you might not even have time to change and that’s okay! But attempt to get dressed every day. If putting on makeup was a normal morning ritual, continue to do this too! YOU WILL FEEL BETTER!
These things all worked WELL for me. I hope they work well for you too! Everyone’s different though, so if there’s something on this list that doesn’t suit you – find what DOES suit you and DO IT! Yes, baby is your #1 now, but Mom is important too. More to come as I experience getting through the 1st year of my son’s life with my sanity intact. -themidwestmama