Take Care Of Yourself First: How Not To Lose Yourself After Having A Baby
Before motherhood, the latest rap song would play repeatedly in my head and I jumped at the chance to try out the newest fashion trends. But as of late, an upbeat tempo with lyrics that explain primary colors is seared into my brain, and I’m just happy to have clean, ironed clothes to wear at a moment’s notice. To say that my responsibilities as a parent have left me pretty busy would be an understatement. Consequently, taking care of myself can sometimes feel like the least of my priorities.
A British survey reported that it takes about 18 months after birth for a new mother to “feel like a woman again.” The 3,000 female participants mentioned in the survey said that they struggled with a loss of independence, body issues after having a hard time with weight loss, and overall, just letting themselves go.
This may be true for many mothers. However, with a little effort, it’s easier than you think to feel like yourself again — and in a much shorter time frame than 18 months.
Write Down Your Goals
Just because you have a little one at home doesn’t mean that your lofty career aspirations have to disappear.
I get it. If you’re like me, you created a vision board two years ago, hung it up on your wall and never updated it. Well, it’s never too late to finally do so. You might have the best intentions of getting back into the groove and chasing your dreams, but actually seeing the words will help you implement the changes needed to make it happen.
According to a study done by Dominican University of California psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews, people who wrote down their goals accomplished more than those who did not.
Go a step further and actually make a to-do list each day. In order to not feel overwhelmed, I write down my list nightly so that I have it ready for the morning to encourage me. The key is to make your list realistic and only add items, maybe three to four, of which you know you can and will get done.
Make Time for Yourself
Dr. Christina Hibbert said that alone time is essential for emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health. “By ‘alone time’ what I really mean is time away from your role as a mother—Time to be you, to unwind, relax, rest, revive,” she said.
Although some of her alone time suggestions include taking a nap, reading, hiking or doing a project, I believe that even simply going into the bathroom and locking the door to have a moment to yourself can go a long way. Of course, based on a conversation that I recently had with a few friends who have children at the toddler stage and older, this still might be impossible due to so many distractions.
To obtain my daily dose of alone time, I try to get it in where I can fit it in. I often stay up an extra 20 to 30 minutes, after everyone is asleep, and watch Netflix. Yes, I’m tired, but it’s totally worth it. I even volunteer to run to the store for a small item while blasting non-kid-friendly music loudly in the car on the way.
Make Appearance a Priority
Author and speaker Sheila Wray Gregoire said that it’s important to fight the frump and make the effort necessary to keep yourself up. You shouldn’t feel the need to go all out for your husband, but rather, do it for yourself. “Deciding to look put together is also saying, ‘I take myself seriously. I respect myself,'” she said.
It took seven months for me to get back to my beauty routine after giving birth. It wasn’t a complex regimen, but I was struggling with things as simple as washing my face daily, with a scrub and moisturizer, and taking showers regularly.
Instead of settling with the excuse of “I have no time,” take the time to ensure that you look your best. Go back to the days when you wore your favorite pair of heels, black dress, and adorned yourself in vintage jewelry that complemented your chicest outfit. Do what it takes to feel like yourself again.
There’s no doubt that your child is your highest priority, but in order to take care of your most precious gem, you have to take care of yourself first.
After settling into motherhood, what routines and priorities fell by the wayside? What effort did you make to regain some semblance of self again?