I truly believe that taking care of yourself, mama, first, yes first, is the single most important thing you can do for your family and especially your newborn. I did not think this after my first was born and I put myself last. So picture an awful case of baby blues, crying everyday, not showering, taking on everything myself…does that sound like someone capable of being an awesome mom? Oh, and then throw the martyr syndrome in there (I need help! Wait no you are doing it wrong, I can do it myself) and you have an annoyed husband as well 🙂 It does not need to be like this! Newborn time is tiring, overwhelming, mystical, and magical all at the same time. You can limit the tiring and overwhelming part a bit by lining up some help and not feeling guilty for even a second about taking care of yourself.
So when I found out I was pregnant with my second baby, I made a game plan for how I was going to take care of my needs because I knew that if I did that, I would be able to take care of everyone else way more successfully. Here is exactly what I did and let me tell you, it made my newborn experience so much more manageable:
1) Wake up before the rest of the family, shower, and put on real clothes. I decided to wake up before everyone else because my toddler is up and ready to rock at 6:30am, the baby about 30 minutes before or after that, and once we are downstairs getting breakfast ready and nursing, it is pretty hard for me to find time to get back upstairs to get myself ready. So no I don’t love waking up early but I love the results. Getting a nice shower in, putting some makeup on, and wearing something other than pajamas literally sets the tone for my day. So not only do I feel like a human being, but I’m also ready to pile the kids in the car and go somewhere fun whenever I want!
2) Set aside 30 minutes in the evening to quickly clean up, and then relax. I do this after 7pm when my toddler is already asleep. Baby is either napping, or my husband is entertaining him, or he is awake and watching me. I quickly check off my chores on my chore checklist, drink some wine, maybe sneak in a Netflix show with my husband, etc. I love having this downtime and will love it even more once baby has an early bedtime like his brother. It also allows me to wake up to a clean house which mentally makes me happy.
3) Get out of the house every week without the kids and do something for yourself. I hired a doula to come over for 4 hours every Thursday while on maternity leave; during this time I get the heck out of the house and either workout, get my hair done, go to lunch, whatever I want. Sometimes I hide in my room and sleep or work on my Shutterfly albums…I pretty much spend this time to only think of myself and do what I love. It is incredibly rejuvenating, and the trick is to not feel guilty (remember? not even for a second!). I feel renewed after this time to myself which makes me a better mom and wife. If you can’t hire someone, ask a trusted family member to help you, or trade off with another mom friend to help watch each other’s kids.
4) Schedule date nights. I aim for every other week. My husband and I had date nights all the time before kids, and it was really important to us to continue this after we had kids as well. My husband is my #1 – without him, I wouldn’t even have these beautiful babies, so I make him a priority as well. Even if you aren’t able to physically leave the house together, after the kids are asleep watch a movie together, share a drink, whatever.
5) Do something special for yourself every day. So for me, this has somehow turned into a Starbucks run every day. I really need to lay off the sugar, but these flavored lattes just bring me so much joy! Whatever floats your boat, make sure that you are doing something for yourself each day. You spend the entire day caring for and worrying about others – you deserve a treat!
**I also had my placenta encapsulated and take those pills every day. Who knows if they actually work or if it is a placebo affect, but they have given me more energy, better milk supply, and I skated by with just one day of baby blues this time. My doctor supported this decision (talk to yours) – if you are in the San Diego area and interested, call Nova!