Let’s talk about self care a little.
If you’re anything like me you look at “self care” and scoff. I do NOT have time for self care, I’m a mom; I’m often at the very end of the daily list or most days don’t even make it on there at all. Well guess what postpartum mamas, making sure you take care of yourself in those early weeks is one of the biggest things you can do to make this transition easier on you and the rest of your family members. You’re not being lazy by resting in bed or ignoring your growing pile of laundry or dirty dishes in the sink. You’re making sure your family doesn’t fall apart, because if mom is broken the rest of the family will follow suit.
Before I delve into the practical application of self care one very important rule needs to be established. A rule that you and your spouse may need to take turns reminding each other of from time to time.
Be PATIENT, take a breath, this is a season!!
It’s simple, but true, and can be applied to so many areas of parenting and not just the newborn days. You’ve just welcomed a brand new family member into your life and it doesn’t matter if it’s your 1st or 8th child, that’s a BIG and wonderful change. It is a lot of work, it takes time to get to know this new little person, it takes time to heal, and it takes time to find a new flow to your life with this new little person in it. And that is OK!! It’s a season, enjoy its newness while you’re trying to conquer the difficulties. Each season has its own joys and difficulties, embrace them. Just about the time you feel like you’ve mastered one you’re probably on the cusp of a new one. Be patient, take a breath, this is a season.
Let’s get practical!
…. Did anyone else sing that to the tune of “Let’s Get Physical”?! Probably just me…
Now, if you’re not type-A don’t freak out! I may borderline type A, (my children have beaten a good bit of it out of me) but my motto in life is “keep it simple stupid”. So type A’s and B’s unite we can all accomplish this list! Ready, set, go!
Freezer meals are your friend
Use those last days/weeks of pregnancy to stock your freezer. Pinterest will come to the rescue with plenty of great ideas. If those are too overwhelming just keep it simple. Make a little extra with some of your dinners in the weeks leading up to the birth and freeze the leftovers. Every little bit helps, it’s one less thing to think about or get done. Don’t just focus on dinner, you need to think about breakfast too!! Again, pinterest has some handy ideas. Here’s another idea with a keep it simple approach. Have yourself a couple of waffle and/or pancake breakfasts pre-baby and make a mega batch. Whatever you don’t eat that day lay flat and separate until cool, they need to be completely cool before being frozen or they’ll all stick together. Once they’re ready to go grab a gallon size freezer bag, layer until full and shove them in the freezer. The great news is you can pull out however many you want at a time and pop them in the toaster.
Snacks, treats and hydration
I don’t know about you but I know there is no hunger like that of a nursing mother. Have some snacks ready to go that are easy to grab and nutritious, bonus points if they contain chocolate! Hydration is equally as important. Find yourself 2 big handy pitchers, one for water and one for some NORA tea, have someone fill them up for you after baby comes and set them in your room. Drink up while you rest!!
Here’s some plan ahead self care for YOU mama!
Stock up on some of your favorite beverages whether they be alcoholic or not. Treat yo self!! Buy yourself some new comfy PJs, socks, or a robe, whatever and save them for AFTER baby. My dear midwife so wisely shared with me something so very helpful that has stuck with me since baby #1. Don’t get yourself all dressed up right away, stay in those pjs, sweats and yoga pants as long as you can. The more put together you look the less help you’re going to get and it also means you’re more likely to overdo it yourself. That advice has been golden to me in my journey. However I hate feeling grungy and gross. So buy yourself a few new comfy items to lounge in while you heal. Again, you’re not being lazy. You just grew and birthed a human, it takes time!! I’m sure by now you’ve seen this viral post about postpartum recovery time with the picture of the paper plate, if not check it out! And this only addresses one aspect of recovery!
Plan ahead for your kiddos too!
Go to the dollar store or dollar section at Target and buy a handful of things to occupy those big siblings. Often times
moms and new babies are showered with special treats and gifts in the early days. Make those big siblings feel special and appreciated too, because they are!! Don’t just plan ahead with fun little things, remember the practical too. If you have big siblings at home, USE THEM to your advantage. Use your pregnancy as a time to teach new skills. Even a 15mo can help empty the dishwasher so let them! Will it be perfect or truly helpful all of the time? More than likely not at all and that’s okay, it will come with time, be patient it’s a season! You’re including them in your daily life and reminding them that they still have a very important role in their family. You’re nurturing a heart of service, that can and should start early! Enlist their help with laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, bringing you a bottle of water, or a simple snack. A 15 month old is capable of retrieving most food out of the kitchen by themselves if left to their own devices. Trust me.
So why not use those skills they clearly have and train them how to do it with a little less chaos? I said a little
less chaos, there’s always going to be chaos. Embrace it and be patient, it’s a season. Hahahahaha, I’m just kidding.
Embrace the chaos, period, and welcome to motherhood.
Rest and recovery
#1 is DON’T COMPARE!!
Our stories and circumstances are all different. I’m talking pregnancy, birth, complications due to either of the previously mentioned, how many kiddos you have already, care and support from others, financial or emotional well being, etc. So just stop yourself right there and don’t compare your journey to that of someone else’s, often times we really don’t know the depths of what someone is walking through. The daily walk of postpartum rest and recovery is going to be different birth to birth, mother to mother.
- Plan on a week in bed and a week around the couch.
You overachievers or first time moms-to-be just shush
and take note. If you want to overachieve at something, overachieve THAT! Remember that viral post with the paper plate I linked to? Holy cow, marvel at what your body was designed to do and endured, sit down, put your feet up and snuggle your sweet baby!!
Communication is key.
A lot of you are probably thinking “How in the world do I manage a week in bed and a week around the couch?”
This is where we have to be really careful not to compare, for most this will be hard to attain and for some it will be near to impossible. Whatever the case may be, communication is key. Ask for help from friends and family and give them a list of areas they can help you with to achieve your goal. If you have older siblings in the house welcome them and encourage them to spend time with you and baby in bed. Make them feel included and loved, they need mama time too. They need to know that that little baby is theirs too! Let them hold and love on baby, use those older siblings!! And if you’ve reached the season in your life where you have a sibling old enough to change a diaper, DO IT! Most of the time I say to myself let perfection slide and get the kids involved, but two words here: blow out. You might need to micromanage this skill a few times before letting them fly solo. But guess what, that can be done from your bed!! Speaking of what can be done from bed, here are some examples for you. Rent some movies, binge watch a netflix show, respond to emails, read a book, listen to an audiobook, read a story to your kids, work on homeschooling or homework, etc. All of those things can be done from bed, have everyone come to you, don’t go to them!
Learning to say no is just as important as learning to say
When someone offers to pick up some groceries from the store for you, take the trash out, run a load of laundry, take your kids on a walk or go to the park. Don’t feel bad, say YES! On the flip side though you may need to say no sometimes to visitors, you may need to protect your space. You may need some alone time with your family and your baby and you need your sleep! Keep that communication open with people and just simply tell them “Thank you so much for your kind offer, I’d love to see you and have you meet baby. But right now we need some downtime to rest and recover.”
2 weeks that feels like an eternity or flies by in the blink of an eye?
The answer is yes, it’s BOTH. At times you’ll feel like you’re drowning in monotony and feeling rather stagnant. But at some point it always hits you, your baby isn’t so little anymore, you don’t have a newborn on your hands. Simply put, it’s bittersweet and it’s a time worth hitting the pause button and cherishing. In the grand scheme of things it’s not that long. The payoff is so worth it!
Set the bar high for yourself.
Like I said this just may not be achievable or practical for you given your circumstances. That’s okay!! Work with what you have but set the bar high and give yourself something to strive for. You are worth it!!