Moms certainly have a knack for putting ourselves last, but we shouldn’t. Taking care of a baby is hard work. It’s emotionally and physically exhausting. Sleep is unpredictable, so are showers (especially in those first few months). That’s why it’s more important than ever to carve out time to step outside of our mom role for a bit to relax and regroup. It’s good for the spirit, gives us a renewed energy, and actually helps us be better parents and spouses. So, ditch the guilt, and embrace the idea that you’re allowed to take a much-needed break from washing bottles and making farm-animal noises—and enjoy it!
Here are six tips on prioritizing your own needs, even when you think you don’t have time. Small things make a big impact on your happiness and wellbeing.
1. Ask for help
It takes a village to raise a child. But there’s a weird stigma around asking for help—too many moms worry it makes us look like we can’t do it all or perfectly juggle everything. Asking for help doesn’t make you a failure, or ruin your chances of winning a non-existent “mother of the year” award. It’s a great feeling to hand off your kiddo to a capable friend, family member, or babysitter and get out of the house to do something for yourself.
2. Don’t skimp on sleep!
Being sleep deprived and exhausted equals a sluggish, cranky mom. Studies show that sleep improves your health, mood, and memory (among many other benefits!). When you have a newborn, it’s rare to get more than a few hours of sleep at a time. But remember, it’s just a phase. Try to nap when you can - the dishes can wait! And rather than staying up late, make a point of getting in bed around 10pm. Try your hardest not to aimlessly scroll through your phone, which can rev your mind up instead of helping you drift off to sleep.
3. Just breathe
Taking just ten minutes a day to do some mindful breathing will do wonders for your emotional and physical wellbeing. There are lots of meditation apps, including Headspace and Calm that guide you through easy techniques to de-stress and chill out. Do a short session first thing in the morning or whenever you have a small window of free time to help reset your thoughts.
4. Have girl time
There’s nothing better than getting together with your girlfriends to swap stories, eat, drink, laugh, and hang out (it’s like a hug for the soul!). Yes, it can be hard to nail down the logistics, but don’t give up on making it work. My friends and I do monthly dinners and I look forward to them so much. It feels good to get dressed up and go out.
5. Invest in yourself
When your life is a blur of diaper changes, rocking, burping, feeding, it’s easy to wind up wearing the same clothes three days in a row, throwing your hair in a messy bun, and forgetting when you last showered. Thanks to pregnancy and childbirth, you may dread getting dressed because nothing fits besides leggings. But it’s really helpful to buy some cute new clothes you feel good in (even if they’re not your ideal size). Find a workout that inspires you to get exercising again, not one that you dread. Maybe it’s taking long walks with your baby in the stroller, doing yoga, or going to a spinning class. Be patient with your body and don’t be hard on yourself.
6. Talk to your partner
Guess what? Your partner probably feels the exact same way you do. Life is different for both of you now that you are parents. Talk about it and make a plan to ensure you both have time to do things that help you recharge. Make time for each other, too. My husband and I do “hooky days” every few months where we spend the whole day together. Childcare is already taken care of since we both work, and we plan an awesome local outing that gives us a break from the daily grind. Need inspiration? Here’s a day date itinerary I wrote. Going it alone? First, I salute you. Second: see tip 4.
Yes, you will have days where you feel like a hot mess—and self-care may not be in the cards. But there’s always tomorrow.
Jessica Solloway is a writer and digital content strategist. She regularly contributes to websites including weeSpring, Pregnant Chicken, BabyList, and Mommy Nearest. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and two little girls.
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