5 Ways I Wish I Would Have Taken Better Care of Myself As A New Mom
Thank-you Munchkin for sponsoring this post. Munchkin creates beautifully designed products for all stages of childhood.
Today officially marks one year of motherhood and what a ride it has been! From learning the little tricks, like parking the car near the cart return at the grocery or the best ways to remove poop stains, to learning the big stuff, like how care for your marriage as new parents and how to avoid getting lost in motherhood, it has been such a transformative period.
Until recently, I never recognized the importance of me time. Reflecting on the monumental year, I've been making mental notes of little things I wish I would have learned sooner. Things that would have helped made the transition to motherhood a little smoother. Things that what have helped me feel a little more me. Through motherhood we gain this fancy new title and a plethora of new responsibilities. I went through a mourning process in my early postpartum days, feeling like the me I knew no longer existed. But you know what, the old me is still there. There girl that loves a lazy evening on the couch, the girl who loves getting dressed up, the girl who loves talking for hours with old friends over pizza and wine, the girl who needs a good night of sleep. It may have taken me almost the entire year to rediscover pieces of the old me in this new role, but when I did, life started to fall into place just beautifully. And you know what? I think I like Mandy 2.0 better anyway.
I've been reflecting long and hard on my first year as a mom and what I would have done differently a year ago, knowing what I've now learned. Taking better care of myself from the beginning trumps everything on that list. When momma is happy, baby is happy. And when baby is happy, life is a whole lot easier. Accepting that spending time on yourself is not selfish, but rather a direct investment in your happiness and ability to mother is the first step. Here are 5 other things I wish I would have done a little sooner as a new mom.
1. Set a bedtime and stuck to it
It took us at least five months to start a regular bed time with Brody. You probably remember us working with a sleep expert last Fall--that was our breaking point. Shortly after, we started a strict 7:00 pm bedtime for Brody. It was tough because it meant cutting our big weekend family dinners short and having to say no to the occasional late-night event. On the flip side, it also meant three baby free hours my husband and I could spend together each night. Whether we hung out on the couch, cleaned up the kitchen, or watched a movie -- having this time to ourselves has helped keep our marriage and bond strong with all the changes. I wish we would have adapted a bedtime schedule a little bit sooner.
2. Learned to pump
For months and months, my breast pump sat boxed in Brody's closet. That thing terrified me. Figuring out the logistics of pumping and also subconsciously worrying about losing the connection between Brody and I that nursing had created kept me from touching the breast pump for almost this entire year. Not having pumped milk meant I couldn't be separated from Brody for more than 4 or so hours (far less in the beginning). This severely limited that me time that I so desperately needed. It also meant frantically trying to build up a freezer supply when I finally took my first solo weekend trip earlier this month. Had I tried out pumping from the beginning, I think I would have felt a little less like a prisoner on some days. It would have opened more occasional opportunities for me time. And watching your husband get to feed your little one every once in a while is a pretty sweet sight. Morale of the story---don't be afraid to pump.
3. Kept the baby gear from taking over the home
Welcoming a new baby into your home really transforms the space. We tried to take a minimalist approach to baby gear, but even so, it begins to accumulate and can really start to feel suffocating. Pick products that fit seamlessly with your decor. For example, Munchkin, who sponsored this post, has their Latch line that matches the accents in our kitchen perfectly. On the days when I don't have time to put away the clean dishes and bottles (ahem, everyday), they blend in and aren't an eyesore sitting on my counter. We also use the toy rotation system religiously nowadays to keep the baby gear under control.
4. Scheduled in Me-Time
Having me-time on the calendar is often the only way to ensure it happens. It may seem a little unnatural, but it makes your time away less stressful and more enjoyable. On the first of every month, I've recently started writing out the time I am taking for myself on my calendar. Maybe it's that long overdue hair appointment, or maybe it's an afternoon wandering the mall solo, but mark it on your calendar and stick to it, let your partner know, and don't change your mind about it the day of.
5. Kept in better touch with my non-momma friends
Part of feeling like your old self involves cultivating those relationships from your pre-baby days. It's so easy to get swooped up in all things baby. It just happens. But a lunch date with a friend or old co-worker who doesn't have a little one of their own can be refreshing. I recently spent a weekend with one of my best friends from high school. We spent dinners talking about non-baby things. She caught me up on all of the movies that I've missed over the past year and it was just the best mental break I could have asked for. Having momma friends is equally important for your sanity in the first year, but wishing I had made time with my non-momma friends a priority from the beginning as well.
What is something you would have done differently as a new mom knowing what you know now?
Thank-you Munchkin for supporting Momma Society in bringing quality content to the community. Munchkin's LATCH line is designed with mom in mind--easy to clean bottles with a stylish brush that fits perfectly and an anti-colic valve for a happy baby.