“Finding self-care as a new mom is REALLY hard!
The day after my firstborn joined our family, I remember thinking to myself, ‘I’ll never be alone again!’ Suddenly, finding time for myself felt almost impossible, and if I did find a moment alone, I felt guilty. As an anxious new mom, my thoughts revolved around the baby while also trying to maintain my pre-baby relationship with my husband. Self-care swiftly moved to the bottom of my priority list, and it became even more challenging to find ‘me’ time once I started working again. So much of my life changed so quickly that I felt like I lost myself overnight! I was three months into life with a new baby, and I broke down. I realized this was my new life, and the excitement of it being new had worn off. I was exhausted and desperately craved some self-care time.
If any of this sounds familiar, I hope it’s brought you some assurance you’re not alone. I also hope it inspires you not to let yourself get to a breaking point like I did.
Soon after my breakdown, I realized I had to make a plan to take care of myself or else I’d end up angry and depressed. I loved our newborn and I loved my husband, and I didn’t want to start resenting them. It was up to me to make the changes in my new life to ensure I got the self-care I needed to be a happy mommy.
Below are my best tips for finding self-care as a new mama. I’m so happy I put these tips into practice a couple months after having my first baby. They became routine habits for me with baby #1 and then made the adjustment to baby #2 (when time is even more limited!) so much easier. With that said, these tips aren’t just for NEW moms. All busy mamas can utilize them.
1. Take Advantage Of Early Mornings
If you’ve never been a morning person, having children will change that. If your kids are anything like mine, you’ll never sleep past 7 a.m. again! My tip: Wake up before your children. While getting up even earlier than your kids may sound miserable to an exhausted new parent, hear me out. Those early morning hours can be PRECIOUS ‘me’ time.
If you can take 10-15 minutes to yourself in the morning before your day with the baby starts, I promise you’ll already feel more in control of your life. The days where my children dictate when I start my mornings are always harder than the days I choose when to get up. I personally prefer to wake up 30 minutes to an hour before my children to drink coffee, write in my journal, and read the newspaper. (Yes, I read the good old fashioned newspaper!) But, even if you only woke up 10 minutes before the baby, that’s 10 golden peaceful minutes to be with your own adult thoughts before the chaotic day with kids begins. Who knows, maybe you’ll love it so much you’ll become a morning workout person! You could also meditate, read a book, do yoga… make those mornings for YOU!
2. Find Joy In Micro Moments
When there’s a new baby in the house, it may seem impossible to take an hour long bubble bath whenever you wish. Instead of seeking those big self-care moments, try to find joy in micro moments throughout your day. When I started feeling trapped by my babies, I made a promise to myself I’d do one small thing every single day that was just for me — for ONLY ME and nobody else!
Every morning when I’d make my to-do list, at the very top I’d write one small feasible thing I could do that would bring me joy. A walk in nature, a phone call to my mom, 10 minutes alone to write in my journal, etc. At the end of a day revolved around needy little people, I always felt relieved I was able to do at least one thing for ME. And, as my babies grew and got more self-sufficient, these small things became bigger and longer. An hour-long hike by myself, a day at the spa, brunch out with girlfriends, etc. I believe this practice also taught me to find joy in the simple, which has been such a blessing.
3. Sneak In Exercise
So many moms complain they can’t exercise because they don’t have time. I get it… adjusting to life with a new baby is hard! If you’re used to going to a pilates studio every day after work, but now have to come home to relieve the nanny, it can certainly feel like your exercise routine is a forever goner. This is my tip: JUST MOVE! Movement is exercise. Sneak in movement wherever and whenever you can!
Take the baby on a stroller walk as soon as you get home from work, run up and down your stairs while the baby is napping, do a yoga video first thing in the morning before the kids wake up. And, don’t forget to plan a time you can go back to your old pilates class, too! Because feeling like yourself and enjoying your favorite workouts is important. You may not be able to do everything like you did before the baby, but you shouldn’t have to give it up completely. Personally, I found I enjoyed working out so much at home that I never rejoined our expensive fancy gym after having a baby.
4. Prioritize Your Health
We mamas get so wrapped up in taking care of our family’s health that we often end up completely neglecting our own. This is your sign to drop everything you’re doing and take inventory of your health. When was the last time you went to your primary care physician? Have you been to the dentist in the last year? Is it time for a dermatologist visit? Put aside 15 minutes, call all your health providers, and make those appointments! Your kids cannot be healthy without a healthy mommy.
5. Go To Sleep Early
If you’re not getting adequate sleep, you’ll never feel (or look) your best — enough said. The best way for me to get enough sleep is to go to bed shortly after I put the children to sleep. I’m often in bed at 8:30 p.m. I know it’s tempting to stay up late to find more ‘me’ time, but I’ve discovered limiting my nighttime sleep ultimately makes me feel like crap the next day. Recently, I’ve optimized my nighttime sleep with the help of Juna Nightcap Sleep Drops and Sleep Roller, which assist in getting me into a deeper sleep date. It’s way healthier and more effective than melatonin or any other sleep aid!
6. Make A Date with Friends
There’s almost nothing better than a good laugh with girlfriends. But, I know firsthand friendships can easily take a backseat when you have a new baby in the house. Sometimes, around months 2 to 4 with a new baby, your friends may stop calling or checking in on you. Don’t take this personally, especially if none of your friends have had babies yet. Most likely, they’re assuming your new life with a baby is consuming all your time, so they’re giving you space.
It’s up to YOU to reach out to friends to fill your social cup. One of my favorite sayings is, ‘To have a friend, you have to BE a friend!’ Make the effort to schedule a time to meet up with friends, and I’m certain they’d love to see you — with or without the baby in tow. If you’re struggling getting out of the house, invite them over. Be vulnerable. Tell them you’re covered in breastmilk, haven’t made your bed in weeks, but really just need a gal pal to vent to. A REAL friend loves nothing more than being there for you. I recommend scheduling something with girlfriends at least once a month. If you can, try allowing your partner or caregiver to look after the baby when you meet with friends to really connect without distractions. Quality time with girlfriends is so good for the soul!
7. Join A Mommy-and-Me Class
Joining a mommy-and-me baby class was probably the very best thing I did after my first baby was born. Because we recently moved to the area and knew no one our age, in addition to being one of the very first of my friends to have a baby, joining the mommy-and-me class was the best way for me to connect with other local moms going through exactly what I was experiencing! I developed several good friendships from that first class, and now it’s fun watching our kids go to preschool together. Those ladies were the best sounding board, too, for when we were going through sleep regressions or I needed to vent about anything. Our teacher was absolutely fabulous and taught me so much about conscious parenting and establishing solid family values, too. I liked the class so much I signed up for a mommy-and-me class for toddlers!
8. Communicate To Your Partner What You Need
Based on conversations with my other mom friends, I’d guess maintaining a cordial relationship with our partners is probably one of the most stressful parts of having a newborn in the house. As mamas, we’re going through so much emotionally and physically during this time, and it can be infuriating watching our husbands continue about their lives as if nothing has changed. Must be nice to have adult conversations at work every day… Wow, you can play golf for 5 hours without having leaky breasts?… Why didn’t you know we needed more diapers?… How can you sleep?! But, here’s the deal. Our spouses cannot read our minds! It would be amazing if they could, but men weren’t granted that superpower, unfortunately.
I’m no marriage counselor, but my best advice is to effectively COMMUNICATE to your partner what you need. Tell them when you’re calm and there’s no other distractions. Clearly explain why you need 15 minutes every morning alone or why you want them to start helping with bath time or whatever it is you need. And in turn, ask them what they need. While it may not seem like it on the outside, it’s very likely they’re going through some hard changes, too. They now worry more about providing for the family, they fear they don’t know how to take care of the baby as well as you, they’re embarrassed to admit they don’t know how to help, so sometimes they do nothing. Empathize with your partner and create a game plan to help each other through this life transition.
9. Start A Gratitude Practice
I believe it’s almost impossible to be depressed when you’re grateful. Instead of wasting energy wishing you could get your old pre-baby life back or grumbling to your partner that they don’t help enough, make a list of things you are grateful for and you’ll instantly feel better. I like to start my day by writing down three things I’m grateful for in my journal, because it sets the tone for a positive day. When times are hard, sometimes I’m simply grateful for a cup of coffee and not much else. But, since I begin my day in gratitude, I find myself adding things to the list in my mind as I go about my day. Look around. What are you grateful for that’s right in front of you?
10. Reconnect With Yourself Doing Something You Loved
If you haven’t experienced it yet, there will probably be a moment when you see an old picture of yourself from pre-baby days and think, ‘I miss you…’ I promise your old self is still there! Make it a priority to reconnect with what makes you, YOU. Even if you haven’t taken dance since high school, join an adults’ hip hop class or take a virtual class on YouTube! Did you love traveling? Here’s your sign to go ahead and plan your first international trip with your baby. Maybe you always loved and appreciated handwritten notes, so try taking up calligraphy. Love yourself by doing something you love!
If you need some additional inspiration, below is a list of 20 simple self-care activities! Copy and save this list in the notes section of your phone so you can always reference it when you need some T.L.C.!
- Take a walk outside
- Read a book or magazine
- Take a nap
- Call a good friend or relative
- Start a gratitude list
- Write a bucket list
- Watch funny videos
- Stretch or do yoga
- Pour a special coffee, tea, or beverage and drink it slowly
- Light a candle
- Listen to music
- Paint, draw, or color
- Write down 5 things you like about yourself
- Give yourself a massage
- Paint your nails
- Take a bath
- Do a breathing exercise
Do you have any tips for finding self-care that I missed? I’d love to hear what you do to take care of yourself as a mama!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Maggie Jackson. You can follow her journey on Instagram, YouTube, and her website. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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