You’re a new mom. Maybe this is your first baby, maybe it’s your second, third or twelfth.
You drag yourself out of bed every morning, way too early. You’re cranky and irritable. The fatigue is getting to you. You snap at your husband and feel like everyone and everything is out to annoy you.
You feel like you’re in the trenches and you’re just trying to make it through the day, everyday, bedtime can’t come soon enough. Once it does, it’s all you have to muster up something to eat before crashing on the couch, or going straight to bed yourself.
Does this sound like you?
It was me too. We’ve all been there. In a rut, don’t know why we feel so awful, even when we have a decent night’s sleep (well, relatively compared to those newborn days).
Well I’m here to tell you there are things you can do to help. And they’re not hard, you just have to do them and be consistent.
You’re home with the baby, you’re tired, he’s cranky. It’s the middle of the afternoon and bedtime seems lightyears away. Get dressed (because who are we kidding, I don’t get dressed unless I’m leaving the house), pack the baby in the stroller, grab the dog if you’re feeling extra ambitious, and get out and walk. Around the block, to the store, grab a coffee, maybe run a few easy errands to make it feel like your accomplishing something. Just walk, it doesn’t matter how long, but the more you do it, the longer you’ll find yourself going, and the better you will feel after each outing.
- Drink Water
This one is especially important if you’re breastfeeding. If you feel hungry, even though you just ate, you’re probably thirsty. Try your best to keep water bottles around the house and full. Drink while you feed the baby or during his naps. Studies show that even 1-2% decrease in hydration can lower your mood, make you feel frustrated more easily, decrease your attention span and increase headaches. Sound familiar? You’re probably dehydrated.
I know, I know. You’re laughing at me right now. But seriously. Try your best to get as much sleep as you can. If that means laying down with the little ones at nap time, do it. The laundry can wait. Studies show that people who are sleep deprived feel more angry, sad, stressed and mentally exhausted. Again, Sound Familiar?
One problem moms typically say impacts their sleep is they can’t fall back to sleep after being up with babe. One strategy that has worked for me is laying in bed, eyes closed then thinking of 5 things I can see, 5 things I can hear, 5 things I can smell, 5 things I can feel, then 4 things, then 3 things. If you aren’t asleep by 1, then start again, although I’ve never made it past 3.
- Take Time for Yourself
Even if it’s a 10 minute shower, allot time to yourself with no responsibilities. Hand the baby off to Dad, turn on some music, relax and pretend you’re not in charge of anyone for yourself, for a set period of time, every day. If you have the chance, maybe make this the opportunity for your walk. If your partner works, when they get home, give them and the kids a chance to spend some one-on-one time together and take off, even if it’s just for a quick jaunt around the block. The key to this is to shut off your mind the best you can. Don’t worry about what needs to get done, what errands need to be run, and most of all don’t worry how hubs is surviving with the kids without you. He can do it, I promise!
- Eat Well
I think this is the most important one. You have to fuel your body in order for it to run at peak performance. Choose nutrient-dense foods that give you the most bang-for-your-buck. We all know how difficult it is to find time to eat something when worrying about little ones, so make sure when you do have the chance to eat, it’s something of value. Try to eat something green every day. I love salads but I find them too time consuming to make and eat, so instead I usually whip up a smoothie with a handful or two of spinach or kale in it once a day. I’d like to say ‘eat clean’ because it’s what most people understand the best, however I don’t believe that there is one ‘clean eating’ definition. I think it varies from person to person and depends on how you feel. For example, I feel like garbage if I eat too much bread or wheat based carbs, so I limit those for myself. I would never recommend that for another, though, because they might do fine with bread but feel like crap when they eat cheese. So they key is to pay attention to your body, your mental state and your energy levels and see if certain foods affect them. The best way I can think of doing this is to keep a food diary, I find it easiest to use an app like MyFitnessPal or something similar, but if writing it down on paper works for you, do that!
Notice I didn’t put exercise on this list? I don’t think it’s 100% necessary. If you can’t manage to nail down these 5 things, you’re not going to benefit much from exercise, in fact it might make you feel worse. Exercise is a form of stress, and if your body isn’t equipped to handle that stress, you’re not doing yourself any good. If you can manage to these 5 things, I promise you’ll have more energy, feel happier and have more patience and compassion for your little ones.