Four Things A New Mom Needs To Give HERSELF- So She Doesn't Go Nuts

There is a lot of talk about sacrificing the comforts of being a single, fancy free lady when you become a mother. It is true- moms need to, do and SHOULD become well acquainted with sacrifice. But there are some things that we need to remember for ourselves when we have kids too. I worry sometimes that too often we give up some things that we shouldn't, and in the end, when we do this too often and for too long, not only us, but our families suffer. Here are my totally unprofessional, not at all researched, and unsubstantiated thoughts on the subject.

1) Personal Hygiene-

I hear all the time new moms saying that they can't even shower because they have a baby. I am going to go ahead and give you the green light on this one. You CAN shower when you have a baby. In fact, you should.

Showering is my thing, so maybe for you it is a pedicure or doing your hair or something else. I could take two showers a day though and I sincerely believe that getting cleaned up makes a person (especially a woman) feel human, functional, more beautiful, and sane.

Taking five minutes (yes I can take a five minute shower- and so can you!) is not going to harm your child forever. Maybe you can do it when they are sleeping, maybe somebody can hold babe for a few minutes, or maybe they can sit in a "gasp!!!!" bouncer, swing, or something else for a few minutes. (I am not advocating raising them in a freaking baby swing people- but modern and lonely motherhood makes it pretty difficult to wear a baby 24/7).

But you need a shower. You deserve one. It is worth it. We are not talking about leaving a baby screaming for 10 hours because we "need our sleep" (that is SELFISH). Taking a shower every day does not make you a selfish mom. At least I hope not, because in the last six years I have had four children and have only once, when incredibly ill, missed taking a shower. Go do it.

2) Exercise-

Yeah- I am going there. And yes, I am a big hypocrite on this one lately. I will be the first to admit that it is way freaking harder to exercise when you have four kids. I know. Still- we need this ladies!

After my first was born I started walking every day, sometimes twice a day. It did wonders for me. Really, it SAVED me from some serious post-partum blues. Why?
Sunshine (I know, I still believe in the healing benefits of sunshine, unlike the rest of the civilized world! Hearsay!)- but sunshine is good for you and it cheers you up!

Health- it makes you feel better- not just physically but emotionally. The Fly lady calls it "15 minutes of loving movement". You don't have to call it exercise, but moving, dancing, SOMETHING is good for you- and it is good for your kids. I like my stroller because I can go for miles (I simply can't do that with a carrier) and I can take all my kids with me. But some prefer the silence and alone time of the gym or an early morning work out or some video yoga. Whatever you do it not only makes you healthier but it also teaches your kids good habits. All my kids are active, strong, and able to walk for miles, in part, because they have grown up doing this with me.

Quiet- my walks or runs were a time when I could be alone with my thoughts (even if my kids were there, they were often more peaceful) or chatting with a friend. This is important and leads to number three.

Figure- I know I am vain on this one, but I feel better and happier when I am closer to a healthy weight for me. For a lot of women a little exercise makes them feel better about how they look- and that is a major bonus when your days revolve around the bodily functions of others. Plus, it is easier to chase after kids when you are in better shape.

This isn't selfish either- exercise can be good for you and good for you children.

3) Friends-

You still need human contact with people who can speak English (or whatever language you speak!), are female, and about your height. I am not making fun of kids. I am not advocating putting the little ones in day care so you can eat bon bons and chillax. But women need each other and it helps with our sanity to be around each other.

If you can't leave your kids anywhere (I know I can't) then go to playgroup, start a playgroup, call a friend, chat with somebody online- SOMETHING.

I love spending time with my children, I miss them when they are away- they are awesome people. But they are not the only people in the world. They can not talk with me about my daily challenges with money, hubby, and ... children. Your emotional well being is important to their emotional well being. And yes, you CAN be friends with people who disagree with you on child rearing specifics, birth, and all that stuff. Talk about the rest of life, there is a lot of it.

4) The Hubbs-

I know, some days having a husband just feels like another chore. And I know there is this study being passed around online about how men don't even need sex hardly ever after they have kids. Whatever.

Your relationship with your partner matters, not just to him, but to you and your children. Yes, sometimes the needs of a young child must come first, but they don't have to ALWAYS come first. Yes a man can put off his needs for a little while, but he shouldn't always be at the end of the line.

Stop dating him, stop being intimate with him, stop talking to him and listening to him and caring about him, and you can just stand back and watch the relationship disappear before your eyes. Maybe this sounds like just another thing to feel guilty about- I don't mean it that way. Truth be told, this is something that I am truly TERRIBLE about. But I shouldn't be and neither should any of us.

Here is why- being happy in your relationship will bring you so much sanity, support, love and comfort that is is worth the effort that you need to put in it. And believe me, kids don't end up happier when mom and dad fight constantly because nobody's needs are being met.

And sex makes people happy. Endorphins, oxytocin, you get the picture.


Balance is hard- it truly is. If you get too caught up on one end of things or the other then somebody suffers. If mom decides she is more important than everybody and her children must conform to her every need we get some of the ugliest forms of baby training, even cruelty to children. But if the kids always come first other things can suffer- relationships, your sanity, and in the end, the children really suffer too.

I am giving you license to find some healthy time to make a beautiful and emotionally satisfying balance in your family life. Go make it happen- without guilt.


Anonymous said…
I like the delivery!
Ashley said…
Seriously on the shower bit. I feel like the only mom on the face of the planet who hasn't skipped a shower since the day after my daughter was born (day she was born I was stuck in a hospital bed recovering from surgery). I wouldn't let my husband go to work in the morning until I had showered and there was breakfast in front of me. Even as a mom (or especially because) we deserve to take care of ourselves in the most basic way.

I'm a mom and I'm clean. Duh duh duuuuh!!!!!
This is excellent! Balance is exactly what it is all about :)
kriegmonster said…
The reason the sun feels so beneficial is that exposure to sun light triggers vitamin D production in the body, which boosts the metabolism, muscle growth, and fights depression. I live in Portland, OR and take vitamin D during the long rainy season to keep my energy levels up.
Kimberly O. said…
Fantastic. I HAVE skipped showers since both my daughters were born (who are now 5 and 1) and I'm sure I'll skip many more showers...but it's because I don't wanna take a shower, not because I feel like I can't...which is a big difference. Some days, staying in your jammies and chilling on the couch is much better than getting showered and dressed anyway. :)
Cylajen said…
Thank you, I really needed to read this... especially the bit about the husband! My 5 month old and I have developed a routine where I get a shower every day (thank god!) but I really need to work on the relationship bit...
Lani said…
Fabulous advice. My showers are totally my "me time." And that means they're usually way too long. ;-) And everything else... so right on. I definitely need more time out of my house, exercise, social interaction... Definitely.