Self-care is a super popular buzzword around motherhood circles these days.
And for good reason.
As mamas, we spend so much of our time doing for others. It comes with the nurturing territory. We care for our children, our husbands, our parents, our friendships, and our households before we even think of ourselves.
If we’re lucky, we have partners that help and share some of the responsibility. But the sad truth is, we often come last in a long list of priorities.
Us new moms seem to struggle the most with this. We may still be caught up in the post-birth high where they just can’t believe they have a new little one to snuggle. Or, if you're anything like I was during the 4th trimester, you may be caught up in the post-birth LOW where you just can’t believe they have a new one to snuggle instead of doing something, anything for yourself.
In this post, we’ll talk about a few sneaky ways to prioritize yourself and find time to put yourself first. I know your days are busy, so these tips will help you slide in bits of self-care when the opportunity arises.
These approaches are perfect for new moms who haven’t quite learned to balance life with a new human in tow. But, they’ll still work for those of us who are a little more seasoned and finally ready to break through the idea of being a mom 24 hours a day,
Though it might be your most precious wish to have a half an hour to yourself each day, the truth is, you really need it. In fact, research shows the benefits of self-care are invaluable. In fact over ¾ of moms report being so stressed out that it interferes with their daily lives.
I’m talking way more so than leaving baby’s sippy on the roof of the car before you drive away.
Truly, self-care is no joke.
And when I say self-care, I’m not just talking about the cliché yoga, pedicure, bubble bath type of self-care. Now, if that does it for you, go ahead and stick with it. But for me, and many other busy mamas out there, we’ve got to find something to cut through the stress and boost our mood in a manner of minutes.
Really, self-care is anything that replenishes your soul and rejuvenates you. What’s more, as you’ll learn from this post, it doesn’t have to take all day and it doesn’t need to make you feel like less of a mom or wife.
While we’re at it, let’s address another fact… self-care is not selfish. In fact, it’s one of the least selfish things you can do for you and your family. Think about it…whether you work from home or not, you’re likely the household manager and things would fall apart if you weren’t available.
There’s probably even been a time when you were sick and rather lie in bed binge-watching netflix, you ran around and made sure your family’s whole world ran smoothly.I bet it sucked. And I bet you wished you could have had a single moment to rest and get well.
Well, imagine what can happen to you physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, if you never stop to take care of yourself. You’ll start to feel sick in a lot more ways than one. And that’s no good for anyone in your family, especially you.
So here we go with the seven strategies you can squeeze in self-care regardless of what you have going on in your day.
And, If you love these seven, make sure to grab the cheat sheet with 6 more strategies!
1. Keep up with your passions/ Keep Learning
A great way to give back to yourself is to keep up with things that make you happy.
Often, it gets hard to maintain our hobbies once baby arrives. Toys eventually take over the craft room and there’s no longer enough time to cook lavish seven-course dinners. But that doesn’t mean you have to lose interest all together.
One way to keep your passions alive is to download podcasts on the subject. There are literally thousands on almost any topic you can think of. Once you find a few you like, you can subscribe and have them come straight to your phone. I mean, you don’t even have to keep track of new episodes. It’s automatic!
What’s cool about podcasts is you can have them playing in the background while you’re taking care of your little one. You can be playing peekaboo, stacking block towers, or defeating monsters and still be practicing self-care. A bonus? The audio doesn’t count as screen time and the ambient language is actually good for baby.
Other types of self-care tactics that fit in this category include TED Talks, Learn-A-Language CDs, or Audio Books.
2. Crank YOUR Music in the Car
Sitting in the car starts to become one of the necessary evils of motherhood. Its like the older our babies get, the more driving that’s required.
Over the course of a year, you can expect to spend over 50 hours driving to and from playdates, pre-school, doctor appointments, and weekend adventures. That’s a lot of driving and an awesome opportunity to take some time for yourself.
Just like the advantages of audio in the last suggestion, you can listen to YOUR music in the car while managing to get everything else done. Tuning into your favorite song or genre of music can actually help you relax, slow your breathing, lower your blood pressure, and more.
Lots of parents choose not to play any music while their kids are in the car, or they play toddler tunes. While I agree you probably should refrain from blasting gangsta rap around your children, it is not necessary to put yourself last once again by sacrificing your eardrums.
Plus, we’ve all seen those cute videos of baby head banging in their car seat, so you know they enjoy a strong back beat too.
Use your judgement as to what’s appropriate, but don’t think you can’t make the most out of playing chauffeur.
3. Maximize Naptime
This tip is an oldie but a goodie, but I’m bringing a bit of a different flavor.
Most advice you’ll read will tell you to save household chores for baby’s nap. I guess they figure you’ve got a solid hour to run around like crazy and burn yourself out doing chores so you’re even more irritable by the time baby wakes up.
However, I’m firmly in the camp of practicing self-care while baby is sleeping. After all, nap time is when our littles recharge. Why not do the same for yourself?
Nap time is the perfect time to catch up on DVR’d episodes of The Bachelor. It’s also a good time to break out the ice cream, chocolate, or candy bar and not have to risk sharing. If you’re a little more health conscious than me, you can build your exercise routine into the middle of the day to take advantage of when baby is sleeping.
If the thought of sitting on your ass instead of being productive give you the heebie-jeebies, try a half and half approach. Use half of the time your baby is down to accomplish one or two tasks and use the other half for some solid self-care.
A good friend of mine, Jaclyn from Chasing Dreams and Littles has a super-awesome Naptime Hustle Challenge that will get your butt in gear to maximize baby’s down time.
You can check it out here :)
4. Lather, Rinse, REPEAT
If it says so on the bottle it must be necessary, #amiright??? Go ahead and follow the shampoo directions and spend an extra five minutes in the shower. I’m not saying take an hour-long bath in the middle of the day, but if you’ve already got a routing where baby expects to be alone for a few, make the most out of it.
Five minutes spent alone will go a long way in resetting your stress level. Just make sure baby is safe and there’s nothing she can get into and go ahead and shave your legs.
Better yet, if this makes you nervous, shift shower time to after bed and you can take as long as you need :)
5. Implement Independent Play
While we’re talking about encouraging baby to have some alone time, we should probably talk about independent play.
Occupational Therapists state babies are ready for minimal independent play at 5 weeks old. This is the time when babies can be left to their own devices in swings, bouncers or on a play mat. It is a good idea, however, to keep baby in sight.
If you’re a toddler-mom like me, this is a great time to introduce crayons or a Magnadoodle. You can also try quiet books or other crafty things you find on Pinterest.
Independent play is great for babies to practice tummy time, crawling, and other self-motivated tasks. Toddlers can also learn a bit of self-relience or self-mastery. Keep in mind, independent does not have to equal alone. You can be on the couch next to baby while he plays in his own space. However, having your own free space can allow you to spend ten minutes checking Facebook or whatever gives you a little mommy recharge.
6. Join a Play/Moms Group
Having a planned outing once a week is great for new moms as it offers reasonable structure to a chaotic time. It can also serve as a baby step for mama to put herself first by getting dressed in a feel-good outfit and doing her hair.
You can plan on Wednesdays (or whatever day the group is held) as the day that breaks the monotony and lets you feel like more than just a mom. Attending groups offers a change of pace and scenery and gives you a reason to change into clothes that aren’t covered in some sort of bodily fluid.
Also, getting babies and toddlers together to play is a good disguise for self-care. While the kids are occupied by toys or friends, moms can have some adult conversation.
Though you’re still likely to talk about poopy diapers and snotty noses, at least the person you’re talking to can answer back. Venting is great for the soul. And who better to talk to about wanting a bit more that motherhood than other new moms who can identify.
Another awesome benefit of attending a moms’ group is the opportunity to relax. The village mentality naturally comes out when a group of women get together. It’s no big deal to pee by yourself, take a minute to breath, or check your phone…Just ask the mommy next to you to keep an eye on Jr. You’ll find yourself easily agreeing to return the favor.
7. Schedule Min-Dates After Bedtime
A big part of your identity as a woman (no, you’re not Just a Mom) is your ‘sexy.’ This involves feeling attractive to and desired by your partner.
And, if you're a new mom, you probably just laughed out loud and snorted whatever you may be drinking out of your nose. You probably haven’t felt attractive since you peed on a stick oh so many months ago – unless you’re one of those freaks who actually feels awesome during pregnancy.
If this sounds like you, you’ve probably also taken a pass on romance for a while, thinking it will come back eventually once the kid(s) sleep through the night, get a little older, you lose a bit of the baby weight…
Whatever excuse you’re using, dump it. Trust me, your partner doesn’t care about your mom pooch or if you barely have the energy to lay there and take it like a dead fish. He’ll just be thrilled he’s actually getting some.
And you’ll be taking care of you too, whether you believe it or not.