In terms of generic advice for new moms, prioritizing self-care is right up there with sleep when the baby sleeps.
On any given day, both have irritated me. I’m a stay-at-home mom and a writer. Sleeping when my baby sleeps is simply not an option I can rely on all the time.
And in terms of self-care, who has time, let alone childcare to go to the spa for an hour each week?
No, I have to approach self-care in a more realistic way to successfully balance working from home and being a new mom.
Ask yourself these 7 self-care questions every day to make sure you’re taking care of yourself:
Have I eaten three healthy meals?
I know anyone with a job can relate to getting so busy that you look up and realize it’s 2 p.m. and you haven’t had lunch. Stop and eat as soon as you realize it. If you’re blessed enough to work somewhere with a cafeteria or store nearby, grab the healthiest, most filling options they provide. If you work in a food desert or don’t have time to cook at home, test out a food delivery service like Instacart, Freshly or Uber Eats.
And for early morning or late night snacks, keep a healthy stock of almonds and ingredients for your favorite healthy smoothie or juice. I like to do a green smoothie with one banana, a couple of scoops of plain whole milk yogurt, loads of spinach and a few splashes of organic apple juice.
Have I gotten enough water for the day?
If you haven’t, and it’s already midnight, don’t drown yourself trying to play catch up. Just find the largest drinking glass you have, fill it with room temperature water and guzzle it down. Then, give yourself some grace to do better tomorrow.
Have I showered, brushed my teeth and flossed?
When I’m alone with my 1-year-old and I’m one hiccup away from a breakdown, reverting to the basics helps keep me sain. I put my baby in his crib with a favorite toy or book, and I give myself the time I need to cry or shout. Then, instead of focusing on the things I can’t control, I start fulfilling the basic needs that I can control immediately. If I haven’t shower, then I do that. If I haven’t eaten, then I do that. The point is to distract me into calming down. I’m no medical professional, but it works for me.
Have I gone outside?
Of course, I’d win in the self-care category if I could commit to jogging around the block or even walking around the block every day, but I’m not there yet. What I can commit to is stepping outside and taking a few deep breaths or sitting on my front porch while my son eats black beans from the high-chair I moved outside. “Spending time in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost feelings of happiness and wellbeing,” according to the American Heart Association.
Have I done something just for me?
I come across so many moms that say they’ve lost themselves in their children or that they don’t know what to do when their children are visiting family or friends. Try doing something small every day just to take care of yourself and your spirit. It may be writing, playing a favorite Pandora station or simply lighting a candle. Do something to remind yourself you’re a person outside of just being a mom. Then, when you do get that glorious weekend away from your kids, do longer form versions of those simple things. Go to a writing workshop, music festival or candle making class.
Have I used laughter in my self-care regiment?
If you’re up at 2 a.m. anyway and you can’t sleep, you might as well enjoy yourself. I know you’re more tempted to research daycares or how to get your baby to reach this month’s developmental goal. But fight the temptation, and do something that makes you laugh. That may mean adding a Pandora station with your favorite comedian on it or watching an old sitcom until you fall asleep. Just do something that helps you enjoy life more and takes little to no effort.
Have I talked to someone other than my baby?
I don’t care how many social media platforms you use. I don’t care how many Instagram photos you’ve commented on. I don’t care if you are reading this post while having your latest Facebook debate. Try to talk to an actual person other than your baby every day. Connecting with other adults is an important part of taking care of yourself. Facetime a friend, and ask her how what’s-his-name is doing. Ask your mom where she’s off to, or surprise your husband with a romantic dinner at home when the baby’s asleep. You need multiple reminders every day that you are a whole and a complete person outside of being a mom. One day, your child won’t need you, but that doesn’t mean you’ll lose all value. Nurture the other aspects of your identity daily. Remember, you were a sister, friend, niece, granddaughter or spouse before you were a mom. You’ll be a woman forever.