So you’re standing in the kitchen with the baby on your hip. You may or may not have used dry shampoo for 2 days, your yoga pants no longer have the fresh-fit of being put on, and your brain feels more or less in a fuzz. If you are a new mom (Noomom…had to) you could probably use a few minutes to yourself to do something to stack the blocks that make you, you. By blocks, we’re talking the different aspects of your health or the mental, physical, or emotional aspects of you. If you don’t pay attention to them, you end up with pieces of your “mom-castle” that can be easily toppled by the swipe of your baby’s mini-fist.Build the castle that is you, Mom! Here are a few ways to carve out some time for yourself as a new mom that will help you rejuvenate those parts of you and build you up each day.
Hack #1: Be an early riser
Getting up early can give you a window of time that is silent, unprecedented, and entirely open to the possibilities. Because babies have a schedule all their own that you must be flexible with, these tiny spaces of time are so valuable in giving back to yourself as a new mom. As your baby grows, their schedule CAN become more routine and even predictable, giving you more than 2 hours at a time while they sleep (say what?!) If you know the babe will generally get up at a certain time, rising before this time permits time for a hobby or a workout that is good for your mental and physical health. Allowing yourself this time can make you feel less “on-duty”, which is the feeling that ultimately takes our identity and leaves us feeling like a depleted shell of ourselves (not cool!). But don’t get that wrong mommas, if your body is telling you that you need sleep, by all means, sleep! Your sleep schedule tends to take a backseat when you have a brand new baby, and that is totally normal! Sleeping allows our body to restore after long stressful days and repairs our bodies and our minds after each day. It can be both refreshing and necessary to sleep when the baby sleeps and technically that is still YOU time! So settle in and get those Z’s!
Hack #2: Have a bed time (yup… for you!)
This ties back to adding that sleep back into your life that is channeled into precious time and attention for baby. Imagine taking time to put on a face mask, drink some chamomile tea, or read a book while sitting under the covers. How good does that feel? Consider a meditative habit like reading a book, taking a bath, practicing some yoga stretches, or doing something that releases your mind. If watching a TV show before bed is something you enjoy doing, do that! Once your baby is peacefully sleeping for the night time session, you have time to experiment with different bedtime routines and something you enjoy. Don’t hesitate to record your show so it is all set up for you when you get underneath the covers or plop on the couch.
Hack #3: Take advantage of (baby) nap time
The moment little one lays their head down to sleep is a unique feeling. You have been running around tending to baby’s needs and now there is a pause in this running. What do you do? As fun and tempting as it is to do the laundry that may or may not have been sitting there for a few days (or weeks, no judgment!), think about how this would make you feel and whether this is time well spent. Laundry, sweeping the floor, or doing the dishes does keep the household running and if you enjoy these tasks, that is a one-two punch! But if reading a book under a blanket, working out, or eating a lunch not made of goldfish and half-eaten applesauce sounds more relaxing, the household can wait. After all, there is a definite possibility that once you start one of these activities during nap time, you may be interrupted. Five minutes may pass and you may need to leap into action again. Trying to do something for yourself when you have time is a start, you will find what works for you and what doesn’t.
Hack #4: Plan ahead
Planning takes many forms: getting dressed ahead of time, shopping or getting your grocery list together, making healthy choices available to stick to your dietary goals, or setting the coffee pot up for automatic start. All the above hacks work better with planning (easier said than done though, right?) and having a guide and some shortcuts that make life easier will certainly save you time in the long run.
If you dress for the workout, you are more likely to do it when the time becomes available to you, saving you precious minutes while baby sleeps to get a sweat on without a delayed start. So maybe you try brushing your teeth and putting on some leggings after your coffee in the morning and seeing where the day takes you. At least you will be ready to go when those sleepy little eyes start to close.
Some other great hacks for planning ahead can include making extra food to set aside for a healthy lunch, filling up your water bottle the night before, or setting alarms on your phone to get things done. Be experimental and most of all, flexible! Life doesn’t go as planned but we can plan for the unplanned (You see where we’re going with this, right?).
Hack #5: Include baby when you can
Believe it or not, you can do a lot with your new person! Spending time together can tighten your bond and give baby new experiences while you are doing your thing! Putting baby in the stroller or baby-backpack while spending time outdoors can give both you and baby some fresh air and you get to stretch those legs! Whether it’s hiking, going for a run, or a simple stroll through the neighborhood, you’ll feel less like a hermit and refreshed. Baby will also enjoy the sights while being your adventure partner – Win-Win!
If exercising outside seems like a stretch but you still want to be outside, try laying a blanket outside along with some fun snacks for you and baby. Bringing a book, camera, or magazine along with you can be a great way to explore something you enjoy while baby gets the opportunity to roll around and enjoy blanket-time! These activities can be done indoors too!
Author: Laurel Wollaston, MSH