Becoming a mom can be a huge adjustment. While you are pregnant it is all about taking care of you. But once the baby arrives, the focus immediately shifts and all of a sudden you are spending most of your time taking care of your baby.
Work, fun, and leisure time used to be relatively easy to balance. But as a new mom, it can be tough adjusting to feeling a lack of control, sleep deprivation, and hardly a minute to yourself. What can you do to take care of You while taking care of your new little one? Have a look at the tips below to learn more and see that a lot depends on the messages we send ourselves:
1. Manage your expectations. You know that saying, “Rome was not built in a day?” Well, the house does not have to be neat and tidy just because it used to be, pre-baby. Now, you are expending a lot of energy in other areas so letting go of standards about how something should look or be is a key component to new motherhood.
2. Pay attention to what you are telling yourself. Try to notice (without judgment) what you are telling yourself. Are you saying things like, “I don’t know how to do this” or, “why is it so hard for me to get out of the house?” If yes, you need to try to create more space for self-care by replacing those thoughts with some neutral or positive ones. Try saying things like, “I am learning more about myself and my baby every day” or, “Everyone needs a break sometimes so they can relax and recharge.” If you find it hard to let go of critical self-talk, ask yourself, ‘would I talk to a friend this way?’
3. Take a deep breath into your belly, let it out slowly and note what you are feeling (anxiety, tension, anger, or sadness) and where (in my chest, my stomach, my jaw) you might be feeling it. This exercise helps to root you in the present moment and surprisingly, will make you feel more in control of things because you are developing valuable self-awareness skills.
4. Choose a phrase or mantra that has meaning to you to use during stressful times. For example, when the baby cries and is not calming right away, say to yourself, “It’s okay. This will pass.” Or, conjure up an image of a place that makes you feel peaceful inside. This could be a place you visit every summer or an imaginary island where you feel safe and secure. Use this with the deep belly breathing to connect what you are thinking to what you are feeling in your body.
5. Ask for help from your partner, friends, or family and/or hire help. This is absolutely essential. If you are home all day with your baby, make sure you have some time that is yours even if it is only a few minutes a day to walk around the block or sit on a bench and look at the clouds go by.
6. Exercise and connecting with other new moms are other great ways to take care of you. Being a mom is a whole new identity to get used to and it takes time to adjust to the change. Exploring ways to take care of yourself is the gift you can give to yourself that keeps on giving. Try it and see!
Below are some terrific resources for new moms in the DC area:
Mojo Mom – Book and website by Amy Tiemann
Mindful Motherhood – Book and website by Cassandra Vieten
Stroller Strides – A total fitness program for moms and their babies
Lil Omm Yoga – Yoga and more for the whole family