When you’re a mum (which I have been for over 6 months now and still can’t believe it!), self-care is the last thing on your mind, behind feeding the baby, changing the baby, winding the baby, naps, cleaning, developmental milestones, sensory play, potential dangers, future schools, and attempting to leave the house with the least amount of vomit on your clothes.
And yet, being a new mum is probably one of the times that you need self-care the most! After all, you are spending all this time looking after a tiny human, but who is looking after you? It might not seem important but as the saying goes; you can’t pour from an empty cup!
Being a new mum, you’re probably a little short on time and money, so here is a realistic guide to self-care that you should implement ASAP.
No, that pack of Bourbons you ate during the 3 am feed does not count as wholesome, nutritious food. It can feel almost impossible to eat three meals a day, let alone meals with fruits and vegetables and actual components that didn’t come from a drive-thru, but you need your energy. When Roo was first born, I lived on those packets of pasta – it’s hardly Michelin star food, but it was energy for my sleep-deprived and very sore body. Now that things are a little better but still just as hectic, we have a LOT of grab-and-go snacks, from fruit to cereal bars, to stop me trying to survive on Coke and Twirl bars alone! We also have a few easy meals, like the Quorn microwave lasagne that I can warm up in just a few minutes, and then inevitably eat one-handed while feeding the baby…
Obviously, I knew that maternity was going to be pretty busy, what with having a baby an’ all, but I was hoping for more naps and coffee dates with friends, and less errand running and stress. But, I’m someone who loves to be busy, so I guess it suits me well. I was recently sent this amazing Daily Goal Setter journal by Mal Paper, which has turned my obsessive writing of lists on the back of envelopes into a more mindful and deliberate action. I almost feel like a grown up. As much as I am a mum, and I love being a mum, I’m also a businesswoman and a blogger and so many other things besides and it’s not easy to keep up with it all. This journal is fantastic as it has a space for your short- medium- and long-term goals and guidance on how to make them achievable. Then you have month views, week views and finally a comprehensive day lay-out. The day starts with listing 3 things to be grateful for, and when I was having a particularly hard week, this really helped me get out of my funk when I first woke up. You then set an affirmation for the day, and your tasks. And the end of the day, you list something great that happened and rate your day. It’s a fantastic way to reflect on your thoughts and feelings, in an easy, guided way.
It’s really hard to get you time when you’re a parent. I don’t find it particularly easy to relax if someone else is watching Roo, and when that does happen, I tend to fill it with chores and client work, so it’s not much of a break! However, at least once a week, I manage to get a bath and I go ALL IN on this bath. I’m talking Lush bubble bar, facemask, a cheeky glass of bubbles and my Kindle. Steven will cover all of the running up and down the stairs to Ruben during that time, and I know he isn’t due a feed so I can just relax. Your thing might be the gym, or gardening, or whatever. When the baby is in bed (and for the first few months he came to bed at the same time as us, whereas now we do get a few hours downstairs to ourselves after he’s gone to bed and it does us the world of good – even if we do spend a lot of it looking at the monitor…!) as much as you might feel like you need to go Mrs Hinch on your house, treat yourself once a week at least, to something that’s just for you.
I certainly noticed a correlation between getting out of the house and my mental health. There’s only so much trashy Netflix you can watch and being surrounded by all the washing that you’ve not yet sorted out can really suck. I really recommend getting out of the house at least once a day, even if it’s just to walk to the corner shop for a snack. The fresh air will do you and baby good and a bit of light exercise will get those endorphins pumping around. That’s the reason I fill my days with baby classes and errands and coffee with other mummy friends – just getting out of the house makes a huge difference!
Gone are the days when your skincare routine took an hour in the morning AND the evening, and you could contour until the cows came home (and when they did you grabbed a brush and turned those heifers into the new Kardashians) but now you feel like you’re winning if you get a shower… every other day! I’ve never been one for skincare. I am a terrible blogger – most nights I don’t even take my poorly-applied makeup off! But I have been making an effort to look after my skin, especially as I am always looking so knackered at the moment and decided, after so many reviews, to treat myself to the Pixi Glow Tonic. I noticed the difference in a week or so and I have been out a few times without any foundation or concealer on at all because my skin has been nice enough on it’s own! I’ve also been using the Revolution Brow Tint, which lasts a few days, as that’s another step I don’t have to do on those busy mornings as I’m rushing off to another baby class.
This is hardly a Zoella-esque self-care list of spa days and brunch, but I’d like to think that these options are a lot more accessible to real mums like myself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t get it all right every day, and sometimes I need a little reminder to look after myself. The easier you make it (for example, I have a huge bottle that I fill up with squash to ensure I stay hydrated, even when I’m busing playing with Roo), the more you will get into the habit of it.
You deserve this, Mama. Trust me.
Thank you to Mal Paper for sending me the journal that sparked the idea for this post. I genuinely love it!