When my first child was born, I didn’t have time for anything. Literally. My days were consumed with breastfeeding, washing and folding onesies…and diaper change after diaper change. So finding time for the basic care regimen (like showering and eating meals) was a luxury.
And forget about finding room for “me time.” That never occurred. I just couldn’t find the way to take care of myself as well.
If I wanted to do anything, it seemed as though I needed to wait until nap time arrived. Then of course, I could get things done while baby rested.
But this was my first mistake: Waiting for the perfect time. Because what I found was that there was no such thing.
Any experienced mom will tell you, the only way to get more time, is to make time.
You just have to be smart about how you’re doing it. Especially as a new mother.
Of course it took MUCH trial and error, but I learned to make minor tweaks here and there in my schedule to help me actually get things done throughout the day.
Finding Time to Care for Yourself While Caring for Baby
Okay I admit it. When that first baby came along and it was time to shower, I always delayed the process when he cried. How could I dare leave baby to cry alone in those moments?
Here’s what I learned.
You can’t always wait for baby to finally fall asleep to take care of yourself. If you need to shower, take him in the bathroom with you! Break out the bouncy chair or car seat with a few toys and voila! Baby is happy and mommy can get her day started on the right foot.
Another mistake I made. Not nourishing my own body due to the timing. (This clearly is not good, especially if you’re nursing and recovering from delivery).
There’s really no need to starve yourself or wait for the perfect moment. It took me awhile, but I learned to work with one hand to grab whatever fruit or snacks I could, while baby held tight in the other. This works well for fussy babies who are only happy when held. And if you have a baby wrap or carrier, even better!
You can prepare meals in advance (when you do have the time) so they are ready to eat when you don’t have the time. Even if it’s a turkey sandwich with an apple or banana — mama’s good health is good for everyone!
Once you get clearance from your doctor (at the 6-8 week mark), light exercises can be a great way to relieve stress and start getting your pre-baby body back.
But how do you even find the time?
The answer may surprise you: Exercise with baby! Yeah that’s right, forget trying to wait until your spouse is home or a sitter becomes available. Lay your baby down in front of you and begin with simple stretches and yoga poses. Then lift your baby up, rocking them gently to work on your upper body strength.
And once baby gains full head control, mommy and me yoga or basic aerobics classes are perfect. Baby makes a great weight for muscle toning or strength training too :)!
RELATED: Mommy & Me Yoga for New Moms
4. Daily Cleaning or Chores.
This is where baby-wearing becomes a life-saver! When your hands are free, and baby is securely attached to you, you have the ability to do whatever you need to do around the house without feeling guilty or overwhelmed.
I was given a couple baby carriers with my first son, but never used them much. I figured I could manage without them…and then I simply forgot about them.
But what a difference it makes when you are able to multitask with baby by your side!
5. Your “me” time.
You obviously want to bond with your new baby as much as you can, but you will also need time for yourself to keep your sanity. After stimulating baby’s senses with simple play activities, remember that there will also be times when independent play time will be essential for his continued development. Lay him on a gym mat, give him a few toys and teethers (here’s a simple tummy-time activity we love!) and watch from the other end of the room. This will keep your worries at bay, but still leave time for you to catch up with the things going on in the world (even if it is online).
Enjoy every minute with your new baby, but learn to make time throughout the day to keep your sanity…even if your baby isn’t asleep!
Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.