Hey, there, New Mama!
Yes, you! You might not have gotten used to the title yet, but now that you are a new mom to a brand-new little person, it’s time to start answering to it. These first new days, weeks, and, dare I say it, months, are going to be a challenge. It’s tough, there’s no doubt about that, but worth every second.
You’ll be busier than you’ve ever been but it doesn’t mean you don’t need to make the time for you. A little me-time will make you a better mom. It’ll help you relax, shake off all that stress and tension, feel healthier and be a better mom to your little dumplings.
As a recently-minted second-time Mom, I know it can be difficult to pry away a few minutes just for yourself. And when you do, mom-guilt sets in. Don’t let it – this time is vital to your well-being, even if you don’t see it that way right now.
Don’t let mom-guilt set in – you need this!
There are lots of things you can do with a little free time. My personal favorites are grabbing five minutes to read a book, drink a hot cup of tea, taking an online course, a relaxing bath, and even just spending some time watching that TV show, uninterrupted.
Although I have to admit, I’ve tried more than once to catch up on the cleaning in my “me time” too, sometimes it’s a must.
But, aside from all that relaxing and destressing activities, there is one thing that should be at the top of any new mom’s me-time list. And that is a gentle post-partum workout.
Why? I know you’re sore, and nothing is quite where it’s supposed to be. You have back pain, neck pain, you’re sleep-deprived, and really not ready for “getting your body back” (Me too).
This isn’t about that. This is about helping your health – mind, and body – and being a better, happier Mom because of it.
Health and healing for mind and body
While exercise might help to tone your muscles and get your body back in shape, the main benefit of a post-partum workout is health and healing for your mind and body. It’s an essential part of the recovery process.
After the task that is birth, our bodies need time to recover – and that applies whether you went C-section or Au Natural. But sitting down and melting into the couch is the worst thing you could do for your body.
Tempting as it is to sit there, your muscles will become weak, and it could cause a rise in your blood pressure and decrease in your strength and overall mobility. All the things you will need to run around after your little one. So move that posterior and get moving! Even just around the house
Even a little bit of exercise will release your body’s feel-good hormones. These will help bring balance to your mind and destress. And that leaves you better able to cope with the challenges of your new role as Mom.
Motivated? Here’s what to do about it
First, get help in. They say it takes a village to raise a child. It’s time to activate your village.
Remember, all our villages look different. You might have grandparents who’ll call in to help, amazing friends, caring neighbors, it might just be you and your significant other, or even some paid help.
No matter how your village looks you need them now more than ever.
If you really feel you have no one, why not try a Moms and Babies group? You can find some great ones where you can exercise without baby ever leaving your sight, check out Instagram or Google to find somewhere local.
Or you can try some at-home workouts while keeping a watchful eye on your little one. Many babies love the interaction from working out with mom.
Next, you need to pry yourself away from Mom duty
There will always be that one extra load of washing that needs to be done or plates that need to be cleaned or work tasks that demand to be completed. If you haven’t been putting yourself at the top of your priority list, you need to change that. And fast.
Yes, all of those things are important, but if you’re feeling run-down and overwhelmed, you’ll have no energy for your babies. I know it’s difficult to reprioritize those ‘musts.’ Try to think of it as one of those new mom skills you’ll need to learn. Your mental health will thank you later.
So how can you pry yourself away for workout time?
First, try to set yourself a (flexible) schedule, so that you can fit in all those essentials into your day. It might look a little like this:
6.30 am – wake up. Grab a quiet tea and breakfast
7.00 am – feed the baby
7.30 am – quick 15 min workout booster
7.45 am – time to work (remember to stop for baby feeds, as if they’ll let you forget)
9.45 am – another quick workout, a cup of tea, and baby feeds
10.00 am – household tasks
10.30 am – back to work
12.00 pm – lunchtime for you and baby
1.00 pm – walk time – go and get some fresh air
2.30 pm – feed the baby and back to work
4.00 pm – some more household tasks
4.45 pm – quick workout, brain break, and time to feed baby
5.15 pm – a little more work
6.00 pm – time for dinner for you and baby
6.30 pm – relax, you’ve done well, take a breather
7.30 pm – yep, a little more housework
8.15 pm – get ready for bed – baths, relax, meditate, feeding
10.30 pm – go to sleep. You need your rest!
Remember, your baby’s schedule will look different and you need to adapt to their needs. Your schedule will look different and that’s ok. You do what works for you!
But, how do I get started?
The first step is always the hardest. To get into your ideal schedule, you’ll need to be strict with yourself and train your brain to step away from its usual patterns – falling from one task to another and another until it’s time to hit the hay.
Instead, make time for everything you need to do. Evaluate what is realistic for you and what you need to do in a day. And put it together in a plan. Be mindful about your day and you’ll find yourself even more productive.
To do this, you need to train your mind to move between tasks. That means actively stopping one task before moving onto another.
Stop and take a deep breath…or better yet five of them. Breathe in deeply through your nose, hold and then exhale through your mouth. Do this five times.
Often we are too wired to fully engage in what we are doing and miss out on so much. To ensure that you make the most of your day. You need to take a step back, take just a moment to breathe – let it all go for just a couple of minutes – and then move on.
At first, you may feel discomfort and stress that nothing is going to plan. And this will be tough to leave things unfinished. But over time, you’ll become even more productive. And that’s good for you and baby.
Get into the zone and meditate
Sometimes to get your brain to switch off or even switch tasks, you’ll need a little more than deep breaths. That’s where meditation comes in.
Meditation is a time solely for your mind and body. It helps you destress, let go and simply relax and be you. But with little kids running, crawling, or crying, it might seem impossible.
When it’s all getting too much or at your set time. Take yourself to a quiet place for a couple of minutes. The bathroom might be just the place. Lock that door and sit down. Get yourself comfortable.
Now, you might even need earphones for this one, especially if your kids are playing extra loud (is there even another volume setting?). Turn the music to relax – my personal favorites are forest rainstorm noises – and breathe in and out and repeat.
This is also the perfect time to add in a positive mantra aimed at relaxation and feeling better about you.
Mantras can be very powerful. Even if you feel a little silly starting out, as you repeat it, you will start to believe it.
Did you know? Meditation is excellent for depression. If you think you are affected by this issue, you can read more here.
Mom guilt – what can I do about it?
Feeling like you’re just not doing enough, that that time away for your blessing is too much. We’ve all been there. This is mom-guilt at its finest. But you don’t have to let it define you.
The weapon against mom guilt is logic. Is your kid alive? You’re doing great. Is your child happy? Excellent. Are they fed? Breast, bottle, or solids – doesn’t matter. Is it a yes? Go you!
If your little one is ok. Then it’s ok to take a little me time. You really do need it. It’s not selfish to not want to spend every waking minute with your little miracle and it doesn’t mean that you love them any less. You just need time to feel like you again.
This is self-care and it makes you a better mom.
It will take some getting used to. But learning to take some me-time and dropping that “I should…” will help you feel healthier and happier.
My advice? Try to do some positive self-talk or mantras and remind yourself – you are a great mom!
Don’t sweat it, if it doesn’t work according to plan
Of course, it all sounds amazing in theory. But we all know the reality as a new mom is that not everything goes to plan. In fact, sometimes nothing does. But it’s ok!
There will be days when your schedule will work perfectly, and you’ll get everything done.
There will be days when your baby is unsettled, especially during a growth spurt or time of change.
And there will be days when you’re just too darn tired to do any of it.
Listen to your body, listen to your baby, and do what you can. Don’t sweat it if nothing goes to plan.
You should enjoy life, and most of all enjoy your little one. All the rest will fall into place.