as a new mother, you might hear the term "self care" at one of your postpartum checkups. initially, i didn't spend much time thinking about taking care of myself because my main focus was keeping my new little one alive.
i have been blessed with three kiddos. during the postpartum phase with each kiddo, i have hit a breaking point. fueled by unruly hormonal swings and exhaustion, i have come to a point where the focus comes back to self, usually through a cry for help with my spouse. "I just need a moment to recharge!"
when I think about it, the cry for help comes because I have not prioritized self care. taking care of yourself encompasses a lot of things, but one way of keeping tabs on it is a daily check in of your primary emotions. if the emotions that come to mind first are stress, anxiety, fear, and worry, then you know it's time to do something to make you feel more empowered. your entire daily routine has shifted from being self directed to now taking care of another human being round the clock. self care is about prioritizing your own physical recovery, emotional well being, and meaningful relationships so you can be the best version of yourself for those that you love, including your sweet new bundle.
over time, you become more aware of what you need and recognize some of the warning signs or triggers and how you can overcome these with a little you time. what does that mean exactly? here are some ways to find balance by taking care of you.
5 tips to better self care
1. get out of the house
instead of spending the day inside the house, take your little one with you on an outing. it may not sound like self care, but being outdoors in the sunshine can create an instant change in your mood. being able to step outside your normal routine and to-dos that exist in the home environment helps create positive emotions and energy in your mind and body.
sure, it's a process to get out of the house and you will inevitably forgot something you need, but the time out of the house is refreshing. whether it be a short stroll around the block, reading a book at the park, or getting lost in Target for a couple hours, it will be just what you need. take a look around your community for some mom groups to join or meet some fellow mamas out for a lunch date. we love this article posted by the motherly brand on how/where to find your mom tribe! motherly is a great site that even has expert led classes on topics you'll love.
2. date nights at home
it's hard to have a date night out with a newborn. so have a date night in! ideally, if you have family or friends close by, ask them to come over and watch the baby in another part of the house. if you can't find someone to come over, don't want someone in your space, or if living quarters are tight, it can still happen. just schedule a start and end time for your date with your partner, after the baby goes to bed and you potentially have a couple hours before the next feeding. it sounds funny at first and can be a little unpredictable, but set some guidelines to make it a success. try and keep baby talk to a minimum, have adult conversations and check in with how your partner is adjusting, keep the distractions (like phones, and t.v.) at bay, order food in or cook a meal together.
3. allow the slow down to happen
naturally, having a newborn around slows down everything. everything takes extra time. allow that slow down to happen in your household and find ways to reset the pace of your lifestyle to meet the new slower normal. you will have a lot less anxiety if you aren't trying to rush around or squeeze too much in.
4. you too must sleep
exhaustion is the number one thing that makes me feel unbalanced. with a newborn, sleep is difficult. if it's your first baby, adjust to their schedule when you are feeling exhausted. if napping doesn't come easily, go to bed when they do and allow yourself to sleep in until you feel rested. yes, that might mean you go to bed at 8pm and are up for the day at 11am, but consider you are still up for feedings every three hours. if you have other small children and are feeling especially run down, see if someone can help you in the morning hours so you can get a couple hours in between those feedings. sometimes all you need is a solid hour or two to feel human again.
for some baby's the dream feed is a great trick. you can start this when the baby is around three months old. have the baby feed and go to bed at their usual time. they typically stay asleep for the longest period of time right after you put them down for the night. then, right before you go to bed (a couple hours later), keep the lights down, don't change their diaper, and just wake them enough to feed at the unscheduled time. sometimes this can help you get a couple extra hours of uninterrupted sleep.
5. feel beautiful again
whether it be a hair appointment or getting your nails done, new postpartum clothes (yes, that's a thing. you can't stand your maternity clothes anymore and it will still take time to fit in your old clothes. so, treat yourself to something new that actually fits), or something as simple as taking a hot shower and getting your version of ready in the morning, can make you feel beautiful again.
giving yourself a little extra time can make all the difference in how you are feeling in just about every aspect of your life. what are some ways you have cared for yourself postpartum?