Hello there! I am writing to you from the land of bottles and nappies to give you a bit of an insight into how I take care of myself as a new mum. We’re all a bit nosey and I often get nuggets of wisdom from other people sharing similar content. So here is how I “do self-care” as a new mum – it may not be what you expect!
This is part of my into motherhood series, check out the other blog posts here:
- Big update on a little project (our pregnancy announcement!);
- Pregnancy update + what not to say to a pregnant person;
- Welcome to the world Baby J! – Our first few weeks as parents.
Making time for self-care
Please note here that I wrote “making time” and not “finding time”. We’ve recently started Baby J on a feeding and sleeping schedule. We’re flexible with it, but it gives us all a reassuring routine to be guided by. That means that during his – mostly predictable – nap times I can look after my priorities. Baby J currently naps at around 9:00 for an hour, 12:00 for two hours and 16:00 for about an hour.
I have asked the Man to give our baby his first feed in the morning, so that gives me time to go through my morning routine, which generally involves journaling and exercise (more on that below). He also looks after Baby J quite a bit in the evening and on weekends, which frees up a lot of time. Here’s the thing: we all have varied situations, with different levels of support in the home. But the key to looking after yourself is to ask others to sometimes help you do so. If you only remember one thing from this post, let it be this: please don’t try to do everything on your own! Superwoman isn’t real, so don’t burn out trying to be her.
Healthy choices as self-care
The first month of our baby’s life very much felt like survival mode. There was a lot to learn and a lot to get over (like the shame and disappointment of not being able to breastfeed). So healthy habits weren’t exactly high on the agenda, other than staying hydrated and trying to consume foods that would encourage lactation.
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I am glad to say that things have since gotten easier in our day-to-day lives, but until recently I was still treating biscuits as their own food group. I managed to stay vegan through the whole fourth trimester (the time between the baby is born and is about three months old), but I wasn’t exactly “whole food plant-based” during the early days. Somewhere around Baby J turning one month old, I brought out my dear blender and started having smoothies for breakfast and salads for lunch.
Fitness-wise, I’m now on the fourth week of the foundations for the SWEAT Post-Pregnancy program. This means that I’m doing strength training two or three times a week. I’m also now loosely following the meal recommendations, though I’m adapting them to be simpler food options when the prep/cooking time seems too long.
Other recent developments involve starting a 5K running program (from this book) on the days that I’m not doing the strength workouts. I’m also doing yoga (still mostly postnatal yoga) on Sundays. And I gave up sugar for Lent to opt out of eating so many biscuits. This might seem like a lot (or not if you’re into this kind of thing), but I’m already feeling the benefits of my healthy habits. I seem to be happier, more productive and I’m “crashing” less often… but then again maybe it’s also because Baby J is sleeping more consistently!
Self-integrity as self-care
When some people picture self-care, they imagine an hour-long bath or watching a marathon session of Netflix. But call it being type A or a perfectionist, I struggle to “do nothing” all day and feel good about it. I’ve got some quite ambitious goals for this blog in 2020 (more on that in a future blog post – subscribe to make sure you don’t miss it!).
So when the baby is napping, I choose to work on the blog here or on my new Etsy shop. I’m trying to provide value to others, but also to provide myself and my family with more financial abundance. Having smaller windows of time has possibly made me more productive as I don’t have as much time to procrastinate as I used to!
Working on my small business might not seem like self-care at the first glance, but doing so allows me to be in integrity with my identity as someone who is ambitious and determined, rather than wallowing around in my pyjamas all day. Those days still happen though, as I mention below.
5 senses x 3 self-care ideas = a 15 week self-care challenge to beat the blues! Save this workbook on your desktop / mobile phone or print it out to have easy access to it and make self-care a priority.
Enjoying family time
Getting Baby J on a schedule has helped everything to flow easier. I must admit that I used to resent when he woke up and I had to stop the task I was in the middle of to look after him. But now I feel empowered by our routine and I can be proactive about preparing his bottle before he gets hungry and upset.
I also have to confess (mum-shamers beware) that I used to watch YouTube videos while I was feeding Baby J. Before we changed him to teats with a bigger hole, he would take ages to feed. Now the process is much better for everyone involved. I’ve recently been looking into Waldorf parenting (and it’s common sense really!) and I’ve decided to do my best to eliminate screens from my time with Baby J. It means that I can focus on his needs better and that we can also do things that are enjoyable for the both of us, like reading outside or just cuddling on the bed.
Letting go of expectations
All of this is very nice, but I am also far from perfect. Ironically, I have watched videos about more natural styles of parenting when I should have been giving my attention to our baby. I’ve also spent some days in my pyjamas, playing video games or online window shopping for wedding dresses and decor or our gift registry.
And it’s okay! So whether or not you’ve got kids, let’s all take the expectation of perfection and…
I’m developing a course called “Sane Mama” to delve much deeper into how not to go crazy from pregnancy into the early months of motherhood. I’m also creating a line of T-Shirts, posters, bags, etc. inspired by the amazingly imperfect mums that we all know and love for my Etsy shop. Make sure you subscribe here to be in the loop when the course and the products will be available. In the meantime, please check out my Beat the Blues Self-Care Workbook for ways to look after yourself, whether or not you’re a new mum!
😊 Find joy in the everyday;
✨ Reach our goals;
🌱 Make the world a better place!