But then I had Hanley.
I found myself still wondering around in my pajamas at 3pm starving, with a messy-knotted bun, chapped lips, and dried spit up all over my shoulders and baggy pants. I was skipping meals, not working out, etc. I understand that part of that is what being a new mom is all about…but I just got tired of it. Please note: I am in no way judging other moms who are content with this state, just sharing my thoughts. I realized I needed to make a few changes to my self-care routine in my postpartum life. Here is what they were, and what I still practice on the regular.
1. Shower (or wash up) each day and get dressed. Showers seemed so unattainable after having Hanley but I desperately missed them. I used a rocking swing, his bouncer, the Bumbo, an activity mat, toys, basically whatever would occupy him for the 5-10 minutes where I could shower up. On busier mornings (or fussier days!) I go for a quick wash up. I keep a squirt bottle (you remember the one they gave us in the hospital after giving birth?) with a mixture of water and tea tree oil. At my sink, I use a warm washcloth to wash my face and unmentionable parts. Then I dust a dry shampoo over my hair to liven it up. It’s just enough to clean up the important parts, apply some moisturizer, lipstick and put on an outfit for the day. My outfits are never anything fancy, but something other than my PJs. Let’s put it this way, I went from screeching after walking by a mirror and catching a glimpse of myself to feeling energized and confident with getting on with my day after freshening up.
2. Eat nourishing foods throughout the day. As a breastfeeding mom this is key. But even if you’re not breastfeeding you’re still expelling every bit of energy you have to take care of your little one(s). If our bodies aren’t fueled by wholesome foods they will become depleted, tired and sick. I make it a point to make healthy food a priority throughout my day along with drinking plenty of water. Obviously I have moments where I don’t have access to the healthiest of options but I don’t fuss over it. It’s all about doing the best with what you have and not stressing about it. But more often than not, I do my best to make sure that the food on my plate is as nutrient dense as possible.
3. Treat yourself at some point of every day. This one is a lot easier said than done. From the moment Hanley wakes up until my head hits the pillow at night I’m going, going, going. It’s non-stop. You can relate, right? However, with as much I have to do I make sure to sprinkle something in there that makes me feel great. It can be watching a favorite TV show once he goes down for a nap or the night, giving myself a food massage in bed before I fall asleep, taking a bath while my husband watches him for a bit, chanting to some kirtan, listening to a guided meditation during his nap, or even making some food in the kitchen (so stress relieving to me). If we continue to just go, go, go and never inject any rest or play, we’ll quickly become burnt out. I have suffered with adrenal fatigue before I know that it’s something I definitely want to avoid now that I have my little man!
4. Go to supportive mom groups and/or activities with Hanley where other moms and babies are present. After just a few weeks of Hanley being born I joined a local breastfeeding support group. All I have to say is – LIFESAVER. I just adore each week’s meeting. It’s a safe place where I can connect with other mommies who are basically in the same situation that I’m in as a new mom. Along with that, I love attending mommy and me yoga classes with Hanley, or music class or other social situations where other mommies and babies will be. I think being a new mom can be very isolating at times and keeping busy connecting with others has really helped to alleviate that feeling.
5. Move in some way each day. For me this means yoga or a quick workout routine each morning after Hanley and I wake up. He’s the most content in the morning which gives me some time (not much) to do some physical activity. I love that he is right near me watching me move my body in a healthy way. When the weather is nice I’m sure to get our jogging stroller out to walk around our neighborhood. It’s a wonderful way for both of us to get some fresh air and sunshine. Walking, even though low impact, continues to be the most profound physical exercise I can do for my body. Best part, I get to catch up on some podcasts while on our walks which is definitely another way I treat myself!
Our bodies are a precious gift that we’ve been given. When we practice self-care we are showing appreciation for this magnificent gift. I enjoy leading by example each day in hopes that Hanley will grow up to understand the importance of caring for his body.
How are you practicing self-care each day?