If you’re feeling a little rough around the edges, and ‘pre-baby you’ feels like a distant memory, all is not lost!
We’ve got some feel-good first aid that will have you reconnecting with yourself in no time, providing a helpful relationship pick-me-up in the process. Here’s seven excellent places to start …
1. Self-care Saturday
Block out a whole day to look after yourself (get your partner to whisk the kids away – or even stay away overnight!). Give yourself a sleep in, wake up with a hot coffee and a hot bath, head out for breakfast (alone!) and then take yourself off to lunch and a movie or a gallery wander.
Next, order in or cook YOUR favourite meal for dinner – not fish fingers or spaghetti bolognese! Put your favourite PJs on – and if your pjs are looking a little worse for wear, this is the perfect moment to invest in something lovely from the Next range of nightwear – and snuggle up in front of something YOU want to watch. You’ll wake up on Sunday feeling much more refreshed – and maybe even ready to face real life again!
Top tip: We suggest fellow mum Drew Barrymore’s Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix – or UnReal on Stan.
2. Wardrobe makeover
If you’ve been wearing the same tired yoga pants for the last two years and can’t find a shirt that doesn’t have a mystery stain on the collar, then you’re in good company. That said, perhaps it’s time to shake things up and shop for some brand new looks?
Relegating over-loved maternity wear to the donation bin is strangely cathartic. Freshening things up fashion-wise will have you feeling a LOT more like you and looking good too!
Top tip: Visit Next clothing online and shop to your heart’s content without even having to leave the house! Their stylish and comprehensive range plus super-fast shipping makes it easy to put the magic back into your mum wardrobe!
3. Make time for your favourite things
Perhaps you loved to garden or draw or play netball … or were working on the great Australian novel before your baby arrived? Carve out some regular time to devote to the beloved interests that made you YOU, pre-bub.
While it can seem impossible to find a spare hour or two to spend on yourself each week, know that the contribution it will make to your emotional and physical wellbeing more than makes up for the juggle.
Top tip: Block out two hours a week to devote to your favourite things, asking family or friends to help care for your baby. You deserve this! If you don’t have friends or family on tap, team up with another mum and return the favour, helping her claim some me-time too.
4. Book Club for one
Tap out of the chores and kid duties for a morning, and head to a cafe (or back to bed) for a few cheeky chapters of a chunky bestseller.
Be sure to put aside thoughts of what you should be reading (according to literary snobs) and choose your favourite guilty pleasure, devoured with way too many cups of tea and a slice of cake, if possible!
Top tip: We recommend the addictive and brilliantly written The Break by Marian Keyes – or perhaps the quirky Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.
5. Long lunch, please!
Gather up your pre-baby besties and catch up over a delicious and lingering lunch. There’s nothing quite like stepping out with the ladies is a brand new outfit – and if you’re short on time to make this little miracle happen, don’t forget that you can get yourself sorted in no time if you do your shopping online with Next – to make you feel like a brand new you!
We highly recommend a location by the water or perhaps a vineyard, where you can combine the benefits of fresh air and a bracing walk with the restorative balm that reconnecting with your favourite people can bring.
Top tip: Plan to arrive home after bed time, so you can fully commit yourself to this important task!
6. Date night – no kid talk allowed
Once you’ve mastered the long lunch with buddies situation, you can add Date Night to your spirit-lifting bag of tricks. Enlist a trusty friend or family member for childcare duties, book a table, pretty yourself up with a spanking new outfit from Next that looks a million dollars but doesn’t cost the earth, and go forth without your child for a much needed dose of ‘adult time’.
Once you are out to dinner, do your level best NOT to talk about nappies, straining pumpkin or the packet of sultanas your toddler deposited down the back of her car seat. Concentrate the discussion on grown-up things, instead. You’ll be feeling more like you – and “you two” – in no time!
Top tip: If you haven’t been out of the house sans-kid in what feels like a decade, don’t wing it! Time and funds are precious so ask your buddies for restaurant recommendations or check the food pages of your local city guide.
7. The holiday incentive
Sometimes the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the thing that keep you pushing forward when times are tough.
Not only are holidays a great incentive when things are feeling like Groundhog Day, once you’re actually ON that holiday, you have time to smell the roses and reclaim yourself (and your relationships) away from the chore-filled hum of day-to-day life.
Top tip: Budget for your holiday as you would pay for your household bills, making it a non-negotiable necessity (which it is!) and tucking funds away via direct debit every time you or your partner get paid.
The overarching theme across all these feel-better approaches is one that’s worth remembering: Exhausted parents deserve time out to recharge and have fun.
Make your own happiness a priority, as often as you can, growing yourself as you grow your kids. You might even recognise yourself next time you look in the mirror. Bonus!
(This is a sponsored post for Next)