I had first titled this entry as simply “Surviving as a new mommy”, but quickly realized that it didn’t quite capture the essence of my message. While at times it may certainly feel like survival is the only task at hand, we really want to be thriving! We all want the very best for our little ones, and it order to do the world’s toughest job, we need to take good care of ourselves. Right? Right! You might be thinking, “easier said than done” (and trust me I’ve had my share of moments and know that life will continue to be full of them), but I thought I would share some lessons and tips I’ve learned since becoming a new mama. While these are not novel ideas, I have, in the last few months, found myself reminding my sleep-deprived self, that these little important “tips” were meant to make my life easier.
Catch those ZZZs when you can
I know you have heard this a gazillion times! If I had a dollar for everytime I received this piece of advice in the months leading up to my little guy’s arrival… Little did I know that this is the most important lesson every new mom needs to hear and practice. I do have to admit that it took me awhile to fully accept this, and I’m still working on it. In fact, as I write this, I know I should be sleeping since my little guy is (sigh). I wanted to do it all and right away, but I quickly learned that sleeping and rest should be numero uno. From a physiological perspective, sleep allows your body to enter into parasympathetic mode, which means that your body is focused on regenerating and refreshing all of it’s systems. Sleep deprivation quickly adds up, and as I’m sure, all new (and seasoned) moms can attest to, it can leave you feeling exhausted, depleted and down which can interfere with your emotional and physical well-being including adequate milk production.
Nourish your body, mind and soul
Since we are what we eat, keep your fridge well-stocked with healthy snacks and mini-meals. I’ve learned that these should be items that can be easily reached with one hand! While it does involve some prep work, you will be thankful when you’re holding baby and starving and no one is around to prepare a meal for you! Besides leftovers (which are always great), some of the following items can be life-savers when you need a quick re-fuel: washed and cut veggies (keep these in a glass container with water to help keep them crisp and fresh), hummus or tahini, washed fruit, prepared yoghurt “parfaits” (ask your partner to prep these for you – add some nuts and seeds to a cup of Greek yoghurt with a little honey and yum!), prepared salads (quinoa with lots of veggie is my favourite). As always, drinking lots of water is critical, especially as you are nursing. A dehydrated mama is bad news. As a reminder, I keep a large glass water bottle on my kitchen counter. I usually add lemon wedges for some extra liver support!
On the mind and soul side, try to do one thing for yourself every day (ok, or at least once per week). Make time for a chat with a friend, read a chapter in your favourite book (or even a paragraph), take a bath, listen to music or have a dance party (even a la solo)!
House chores can wait (they really can!)
If you must, do what is most critical for your household’s daily functioning. Forget polishing the silverware (do people still do that?) or organizing your closet. If you have time to do these, you should be sleeping! Put your partner/friend/parent/neighbor on house-chore duty.
Play and laugh everyday
Whether your little one is a baby or not, remember to play every day. Life gets busy, and while we often get sucked up into the daily grind, do your best to step back and take in the whole picture when you can. Smell the roses. And while sleepless nights are not fun, your baby’s beautiful smile (especially the gummy ones) and giggles are what it’s all about. Enjoy the little moments – the quiet ones, the loud ones and all the moments in between.
Remember these four words: this too shall pass
In the first few weeks of my son’s arrival, I found myself on a few support blogs and websites, particularly for tips and to questions regarding breastfeeding. Over and over I read the same four words: this too shall pass. And while it offered reassurance that whatever concern I had at the time would pass (and I would then move on to the next), it also left me feeling a little nostalgic. The moments all passed so quickly, and now as I sit here, my little guy is already 7 months old, and I remember the first 7 minutes, hours, days and weeks like they were yesterday. For good and bad, time passes quickly, so take in all of those moments (see #4), even the challenging ones. As I’ve heard from my own mother, grand-mother and other seasoned moms, babies become people right before your eyes, in what feels like a flash. I do my best to remember this when I’m having a challenging moment or day or week (growth spurts anyone?)!
I hope you will find some of this useful or at the very least that it reminds you to sleep when you can, play when you can and eat as best as you can, especially if you’re a new mom. As I think about it, these tips really apply to everyone, will be important for the rest of my life, and I know I will find myself encouraging my little one to do this. As a self-confessed life-longer learner, and as the inspiring Maya Angelou said, I have learned that I still have a lot to learn. But that’s really what the journey is about. Do you have any favourite tips or lessons you’ve learned along the way that you’d like to share with a new mom? I’d love to hear them!