My best friend from college had her first baby six months ago. I adore my “niece” and I was there when she was born, and I was able to stay to help my friend for several days after her delivery. And my friend needed all the emotional and physical support she could get. Take care of a baby is an exhausting 24/7 responsibility that never ends. Her husband works night shifts, so he is sleeping most of the day, and unfortunately can’t give her the help that a partner working day shifts can. As a result, my friend is always exhausted and stressed. She doesn’t eat well – because she has no time to eat with taking care of her baby – and she’s lost a lot of weight. Her short term memory is out the window, and her mood suffers. She is neglecting her self-care.
Self-care is so important when you are a new mom. It will help keep your sanity.
So what are some self-care tips for new mothers? (Not all of these may help you and some may not be realistic depending on other factors, but I hope they help, even a little!)
Sleep When the Baby Sleeps
Although it may be tempting to wash the dishes or do the laundry when the baby sleeps, sometimes you just have to let it go. Follow what Elsa sings – “Let it go… Let it go.” Sometimes you just have to let it go and get some much needed rest. You will be a better parent if you can get some sleep and rest. Cat naps are awesome, by the way.
Although you may not be able to nap with baby for every nap, try at least one nap during the day. Getting some sleep is often the best thing for you.
If you can afford it, hire someone to clean your house, to wash your dishes, to wash and fold your laundry. Take those chores off your list, so you can rest and get much needed self-care. Often there is nothing better than worrying about your baby and only your baby!
Some grocery stores also allow you to buy groceries online, their staff picks up the produce and items off the shelf for you, and you just have to go in and pick it up. Some places even have drive-in lines. Easy as 1-2-3!
Prepare Meals in Advance
If you have a husband or partner to help you, ask him/her to watch the baby for a Sunday afternoon and prepare your family’s meal in advance. Meal prep can save you money, in addition to less stress. It helps with figuring out what to buy at the grocery, and you don’t have to worry about what to cook tonight.
Alternately, you can join a meal delivery service, which gives you everything you need for a delicious dinner. It is more expensive than going to the grocery store and cooking your own food, but it might be worth it for your sanity.
Join a Mom Group
Get support from other moms. You can join MOPS, or meet other new moms through Meet Up and your local baby store. Parenting meet ups can meet as little as once a month, or more frequently. Finding new friends who are going through the same thing as you often helps you feel more supported. Plus, you can get out of the house with baby in tow and socialize. Sometimes you just need to get out of the house to feel better.
Make an Appointment at the Salon
Ask grandma or your partner/husband to watch the baby for a few hours, and get beautified. Taking a few hours away from the house, away from baby duty can be all the difference in the world. Relax and let the ladies at the salon wash and cut your hair, look and feel beautiful and come home relaxed.
Make Time for Yourself
Once a week, just make time for yourself. You were a functioning person before you became a mother. Don’t forget who you were. Though you won’t have as much time as you used to devote to your old hobbies, take an hour or two a week and go be you.
If you enjoyed working out before, join a gym and take a class or two.
If you loved going out with friends, ask them over for dinner. Or go out with the girls one night to relax.
If you loved reading, read a book while baby is sleeping and get immersed in a different world, imagining yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Ask for Help
If you ever feel like you can’t handle it, ask your help. Talk to your husband or partner and communicate how you feel. Hire a babysitter or nanny for a few hours if you need it.
If you are ever super frustrated, put the baby down and take a few minutes to compose yourself.
Just remember that it’s OK to ask for help. All new parents need help from time to time. Don’t feel guilty. Parents get overwhelmed sometimes. Remember that quality time is better than a quantity of time, especially when you are overly stressed and unhappy.
Get some rest and remember to cherish this time with your new baby.