You’ve just had a baby and you’re completely consumed in babyville. Your newborn couldn’t be more loved and doted on, and you can’t even remember what life was like before you became a mum. Meanwhile, you’re surviving on 3 hours of broken sleep, you barely get a chance to eat, and you’ve got a cough that won’t go away because you can’t catch up on your rest.
I know you’ve never been happier, but it’s important to make sure you count too when you become a mum. Before you had your baby, you probably went to the gym regularly or took daily yoga classes. If you were sick back then, you’d have stayed in bed for a couple of days, right?
Having a baby makes all of these things pretty challenging, which means your personal wellbeing bank might be running into deficit. But there’s good news here. You can still take care of you in early motherhood without it being a big deal. These days it’s less about big, unrealistic plans for timeout, and more about finding regular, easy ways to put yourself first.
Which of these can you put into practice today?
Say YES to offers of help
If there’s ever a time to push your pride aside, it’s motherhood. This means accepting that you don’t have to do this on your own and saying yes to those offers of help! If someone offers to bring you food, say ‘yes’! If someone offers to watch the baby so you can shower, say ‘yes’!
Breastfeeding? Sit back and relax
Feeding sessions with your new baby will take up a lot of time in those early weeks, but rather than begrudge these for the time they sap from you, see them as a perfect excuse for relaxing and enjoying down time with your baby.
Keep the expectations realistic
Babies have this uncanny way of getting in the way of plans and high expectations – which usually leads to frustrated tears for us. Make it easy on yourself and keep your daily plans super simple. If you’re running errands, just make it one short trip a day. That to-do list? Give yourself just one, realistic thing to get done each day. Then you can feel accomplished without the overwhelm.
Forget the ‘shoulds’
Give yourself a break from the shoulds, even if it’s just for one day each week. Instead of thinking about all the things you ‘should be doing’, do the complete opposite, and partake only in activities that give you joy. I’m thinking long lazy cuddles on the couch with your baby, window shopping in the sunshine and hanging out with mum friends at the cafe.
Baby’s sleep time is your downtime
If sleep doesn’t come easily to you when your baby naps, try instead to use this time as an opportunity for rest. You might be tempted to run around the house being busy, when the baby sleeps, but resist this if you can. Instead, aim to put your feet up, read a book or take a long shower.
Say NO when you need to
When it comes to obligations, feel free to say ‘no’. If you don’t feel up to visitors or meeting up with friends, it’s okay to politely refuse – make up an excuse and do what’s right for you and your baby. Having a baby is hard work and sometimes that requires a home day in pyjamas. And babies offer a ready-made excuse whenever you need it!
Take short breaks when you can get them
Once you’re a mum, you’ll quickly realise the beauty of a few minutes to yourself, even if it’s just to put the bins out, or walk around the block on your own. This can be just enough to dust off some cobwebs and recharge your batteries enough to keep you going. Don’t worry, those short breaks will get longer as your baby grows, I promise!
Speak up if you need to
For some reason, lots of mums are reluctant to SOS for support when they’re struggling, or even to share about the challenges with fellow mum friends. But you’d be surprised how much a good vent can help you get through the week. And guess what? If you’re finding it hard, I guarantee your mum friends are too, so you can share the pain together and maybe even have a laugh about it (through your tears!).