Put You First: Ways New Moms Need To Take Care Of Themselves
Moms can be so busy thinking about how to satisfy their kids, their partners, their parents, their in-laws and their friends, that they can end up feeling deeply unsatisfied themselves. Everyone else gets the best of them. And they just get the scraps—the tired, haggard, cranky, messy woman left over when everyone else got a piece of super woman. Here are 14 ways to combat feeling like you’ve neglected yourself.
Ask for help
Don’t try to be supermom. Don’t try to prove you can do it all. Who are you trying to prove that to, anyways? The saying “It takes a village to raise a child…” exists for a reason. Ask for help. Remember all the sources of help you have from friends, to parents, to in-laws, to even your partner. Nobody will judge you for not doing it all.
You can start to resent the fact that the only reason touching is happening is because somebody needs something from you. You’ll begin to resent physical touch altogether because you’ll associate it only with exhaustion and giving. Getting regular massages will make you more ready and willing to touch and help others because you are being touched only for the purpose of relaxation, at least on occasion.
Sleep whenever you can
Being sleep deprived only makes the tough things feel tougher, the sad things feel sadder and stress feel more stressful. Sleep deprivation has even been linked to feelings of depression. The only thing that will make you feel better as a new mom is sleeping. It will make you feel better than that yoga class, or getting lunch with a friend. So skip those activities sometimes, in favor of a nap.
Allow yourself some indulgences
Make a point of doing things just for yourself, even if they’re little things. Buy two kinds of dessert if your family prefers one kind, but you want the other. If you’re constantly accommodating other people, and never accommodating yourself, you’ll begin to pity yourself. And that will drain you of energy.
Keep your creative outlet
You might feel guilty continuing to go to that painting class, or continuing to take an hour to play the piano each evening, thinking that these are “unnecessary” activities, and your time could be better spent doing something for your family. But remember: creative activities are a great outlet for stress, anger, frustration, sadness, confusion—you name it. And those are all emotions you’ll experience as a new mom. Being creative is not only necessary; it’s crucial.
Enjoy a good view
You have your new mommy workout classes that are on point for your physical needs, but they’re still keeping you confined to the world of motherhood. When you can, walk, bike or hike to an outdoor area offering great views. It’s important to shift your perspective sometimes from your little, super-focused world of motherhood, to realizing how great life is.
Get the house to yourself
What used to be your sanctuary is now a bottomless, gaping hole of need and work: your home. But you should still feel happy in your home, so disassociate it with cleaning and changing diapers and cooking once in a while. Get help from your partner, or a friend, and clear the house all for yourself. And no: you’re not allowed to do laundry during this time.
In or out of the house, be sure to make alone time for yourself. It’s healthy to have regular time to think about nothing at all, or just let your mind wander. As a mom, your mind is constantly working—figuring out what to make for dinner, how to keep your kids healthy, how to keep your husband happy. Even when you’re with a good friend, your brain still doesn’t get to relax because you feel the urge to talk to your friend, or entertain her. If you don’t get regular alone time, it will feel as if your head is about to explode.
Take care of your appearance
It’s tempting to skip makeup (and maybe showering) and just stay in sweats all day when you’ll be home with the kids anyways. But seeing a haggard, sloppy woman looking back at you in the mirror will make you feel sad. You’ll feel you’ve neglected yourself, and then that energy-draining pity will set in. Put on a little makeup, take a shower even if your kids have to sit in the room with you, and wear real clothes.
Do some of your old activities
Moms can feel this complete disconnect with their old selves after having kids, but they do it to themselves. They think, “Moms don’t go to bars, moms don’t go to concerts, moms don’t go to gallery openings—that’s stuff for single people.” Not true! Re-visit the things you used to do so you don’t feel a devastating breakup with your former self.
When you’re in the position of being a caretaker, you’re used to being in service mode. The moment anyone asks you any question your brain defaults into figuring out how to satisfy that person. You’ve just gotten used to that. In other words, you’ve gotten used to saying yes. But take a moment to pause after every request from your kids/partner/friends/parents and ask yourself, “Do they really need this? Is there someone else who could do it for them? Will it take too much out of me to do this for them?” Being able to say no occasionally is empowering and might be the only thing that saves you from a meltdown.
Eat grownup food
You’re buying twice as much food now, so it’s tempting to just bulk buy the stuff your kids eat. Why? It’s cheaper and you like it too (who doesn’t like French fries and chicken fingers?) But eating your kid’s foods will catch up with you emotionally and physically. Not only will your waistline take a hit, but also you’ll once again feel you’re neglecting yourself if you don’t see any grownup food in the kitchen.
Don’t forget: your kids aren’t just whining, eating, pooping, crying, coughing, mess-making gremlins. They’re also adorable and they adore you. Put aside time to cuddle with your kids once a day. Maybe on the couch, reading them a story, or just watching TV. Don’t forget to enjoy your kids. That’s why you had them, remember?
Lower your expectations
And finally, lower your expectations for yourself and your children. If you expect them to be angel children, then they’ll look like little demons simply for drawing on the table. If you have visions of yourself waking up every morning refreshed and happy, you’ll be devastated when you see those dark circles. Have a real idea of what motherhood looks like. When you expect it, it’s not all that bad.