For a lot of woman, the term ‘self care’ means a variety of things. It can mean care of one's body for some and others it’s the mind. Your passions, interests, friends and all those things you loved before you became a mother are all still important. Your time is going to look different, but you just need to find a new rhythm and schedule to be sure you’re still incorporating those things into your life so you can feel like…. well, you.
There are so many stages of self care for mothers. It starts with those first few weeks post birth, then moves into the time when you’re aligning your expectations and scheduling capabilities for your girls wine night and where you can fit in a hair cut. After a year or so, you’re into the maintaining stage of recognizing the things you absolutely need in order to take care of yourself on the regular. Don’t wait until you feel like you’re going crazy and don’t dumb down ‘me time’ to a singular spa day or a 30 minute mani/pedi. Those are just one off things and they won’t keep you at your best from week to week. Or maybe you can afford to do full spa days every week, and in that case, good for you girlfriend.
Take A Shower: Once you become a mother, the simple act of taking a shower might as well be a spa day in and of itself. As a mom I'm constantly doing things for Parker that she needs and being sure she's taken care of, but I have to remember showers are also something I have to do too!
Get My Sh*t Together: Every few weeks, I have to ask Eric for an afternoon of off-duty mom time (it can be at home or on my own, I just need to tag out) to answer all those unopened emails that pile up, handle paperwork and invites that have come in recently, write some blog posts and update my calendar so I can better plan out my days. Things pile up and I so frequently put them aside in favor of time with Parker or because I’m at work or especially when Eric is out of town and I have limited time to even sit in peace. So when you get an email from me that starts with ‘Sorry to just be responding’.... you can safely assume it was written on one of my ‘getting sh*t done’ days. When things are being checked off my to-do list, I feel sanity returning to my life. When I have a separate to-do list to remind me to do my other to-do list….things aren’t looking good.
Get Ready for the Day: After the first few weeks of motherhood had passed and the excuse for living in the same pajamas and robe for days was unacceptable, it was time to start dressing like a respectable human again and covering up my undereye circles. The more I looked like myself, the better mood I was in and had more motivation. It also helped me to start feeling like myself and not just a pumping and sleeping and diaper changing machine. On that note……
Wear Things That Make You Feel Good: I will say that I feel 100% better in clothes that fit right and make me feel awesome. I almost found dressing post pregnancy to be a bit more challenging than dressing while I was pregnant. I had so much confidence in my body when I was pregnant and wore figure hugging dresses and then I was so self conscience immediately following and didn’t want anything clinging to my body. I had to adapt my wardrobe just like I did when I was pregnant. I took an afternoon and tried on everything to see what transitioned and what didn’t and how I could style things differently to be more flattering. This saved me disappointment in the mornings when I was getting dressed and realized things didn’t look like they did a year ago on me. This made a huge difference on my emotional well-being. It may sound silly to some, because it’s just clothes, but I think we can all relate… even if you’ve never had a baby. I allowed myself to get a few staple pieces at H&M, Joe Fresh and Old Navy that I knew weren’t breaking the bank, as these weren’t forever pieces in my wardrobe, but fit my in-between post baby body. Remember, this body just grew and birthed another human for crying out loud, so keep things in perspective and don’t compare your body to others.
Work It Out: Exercise looks different for everyone post baby. With nursing and work and teething, it took me about 7-8 months to realistically feel like I could get a full hardcore workout back in that wasn’t just walking or light jogging through the park. I was also scared about losing my milk supply - so if you are wanting to work out full force again and nurse, just be sure to monitor your supply and eat/drink more water to compensate. For me, exercise is a must, it just now has to be efficient and effective. The benefits are real. I don’t have a lot of time, but the time I do have needs to be used to the fullest. Group classes like TRX, spin and HITT have been my savior and allow me to get in a good sweat in 45min or less. Say classes like that aren’t your thing, I know there are lots of mommy and me yoga classes or Fit4Moms in most cities that take great approaches to exercise post baby.
Doing Errands On My Own: This combines alone time and fulfilling to-do lists (see ‘Getting My Sh*t Together above) in one activity. You’ll find what used to be a leisurely trip to Nordstrom to find a new pair of mom jeans turns into an all out sprint with a screaming baby in tow and the next thing you know, you’re accidentally walking out with a pair of bootcut Tommy Hilfiger jeans instead of those cute J Brand distressed boyfriend jeans because that siren of a child was wailing the whole time and threw Goldfish all over the dressing room floor and caused you to make a poor life decision. There are places I love taking Parker along with me and there are times I want to be alone to stroll the aisles while I accomplish my errands.
Sleep: Seems easy enough, but I’ve learned over the years that I need a full night of rest. I’m not a person who fully functions on 4 hours. Sleep is one of my favorite activities and it keeps my attitude in check. I’ve had to be more disciplined about this since I can’t just sleep in until noon anymore if I feel like it. I’ve had to choose between a lot of movies I’d love to watch on a Friday night and sleeping. Sleeping always wins.
Be sure to check out and follow along with the other amazing mamas who are sharing their stories as part of this series. Also be sure to check out our previous topics: Travel, Feeding, Sleep, Relationships and Work Balance. Links below! #realmomseries