Welcoming a new baby into your life is a joyous occasion—just like everyone says. What they don’t talk about is what happens after all of the adoring well-wishers have met your baby, dropped off frozen meals, and left. For the first year (or more) of your baby’s life, you’re caught in a perfect storm of hormones, sleep deprivation, dirty diapers, mounting responsibilities, and clothes that don’t quite fit the way they used to. Meanwhile, the concern and sympathy people had for you during your pregnancy seem to have evaporated. You’re a mom now—that’s life! Better get used to it, is the refrain you hear when you mention how overwhelmed, busy, and neglected you feel.
For many mothers, baby’s first year is a preview of what’s to come for the next 18. That’s why it’s so important for new moms to get in the habit of taking care of themselves as well as their children from the very beginning.
Most new moms are so focused on caring for their babies (and perhaps other children) that they don’t take the time to take care of themselves—and if they do indulge, they feel guilty! That’s a dangerous trap to fall into because neglecting yourself can quickly become a habit that affects your mental, emotional, and physical health—as well as your ability to be a good parent.
However, Ivana, who is a mother of two, admits that simultaneously caring for yourself and your baby is easier said than done.
As a mom, your first instinct is always going to be to put your baby. After that, if you’re like many women, you’ll prioritize your spouse, your home, your career, and more. And when everything is said and done, there’s simply no time left for you.
If you feel selfish or even guilty about doing something for you when your baby needs you too, consider this: Taking a break from bottles and burp cloths makes you a better mother. You’ll come back from even a half-hour’s indulgence feeling refreshed, reset, and reconfirmed in your identity as an individual.
You need to be in touch with your own interests, beliefs, values, and more in order to be your best self for your children and spouse. You also need some good old-fashioned R&R. Otherwise, you’ll only be going through the right motions as you travel the road toward motherhood burnout.
Fortunately, taking care of yourself doesn’t have to mean large, expensive, time-consuming gestures. It can be pretty simple! Here, we share seven self-care suggestions to get new moms started:
Keep your appointments. First, don’t fall behind on regular appointments for yourself. Get your teeth cleaned. Visit the eye doctor. Get your physical.
No, these appointments aren’t anyone’s definition of fun, but they are important. Staying physically healthy is one of the best things you can do for you and your baby, so don’t use your baby as an excuse to skip them! And who knows—you’ll probably be able to steal a few minutes on the way home to grab a cup of your favorite seasonal coffee.
Do something for no other reason than that you enjoy it. Read a book (that isn’t about parenting). Bake a cake. Go shopping. Watch your favorite show or a good movie (and don’t use it as a chance to catch up on laundry folding). Take a walk without bringing the stroller along. Dig out your sketchbook and pencils.
It’s true that you won’t have as much free time now that you’re a parent, but it shouldn’t completely go the way of the dinosaur. It’s important to stay in touch with the parts of yourself that aren’t a parent. If simple enjoyment isn’t enough of a reason to nudge you out the door sans baby, think about it this way: As your child grows, you’ll want her to have a fulfilled, self-actualized mother to look to as a role model.
Give yourself a beauty ego boost. It’s simple: When you look good, you feel good about yourself. Freshening up your image does amazing things for your attitude, energy, and outlook.
Something as simple as a manicure or a hair trim can go a long way toward making you feel like a million bucks. No, you may never be able to return to your half-hour-long beauty regimen each morning—at least until your child is older—but that doesn’t mean you can’t enlist the help of professionals every now and then. Read More