It's borderline impossible for new mamas to make time for themselves, because they've got this new little person that is sucking up all of their time and energy and milk and space and sleep.
But since we still need to be a mostly normal functioning human being, and people expect us to smell somewhat nice, and also expect us to be able to operate a vehicle and be a contributing member of society without falling asleep mid-sentence, it makes it even more apparent that there is NO TIME to do anything for yourself.
So the question for every new mama is this: how do you make time for yourself and what does that look like now that you have a newborn at home?
I'm definitely not an expert on the subject, considering the fact that I am still finding it difficult to get in the shower without my kids making my life a living hell, but I put together a list of things that I think every new mama can do to make time for herself when she's got a newborn at home!
Interests and Alone Time
It has taken me an embarrassingly long time to realize that the things that I am interested in don't need to be shared with anyone else in my family, and that if I find something fulfilling, I should make it a priority to do that for myself whenever I get the chance. For new mamas this is especially hard, because your entire life is wrapped up in getting to know the ins, outs, and personality of your new babe. But that doesn't mean that you have to now define yourself by your new baby, and that your interests just disappear!
I think it's important for new mamas to sit down with their partners before the baby arrives and explain to them the things that are important for you to keep doing that might not include the baby at all. That way you both have the expectation that you will be taking time to do certain things that make YOU happy and give YOU the chance to step away from the roll of motherhood and step back into yourself for a little bit.
Basic Health and Hygiene
I feel silly even having to type this, but I swear to you, EVERY mama that I talk to makes it a point to mention how hard they find it to do the simple self-care and hygiene that was never a problem before having a baby. Showering, washing your hair, wearing makeup, going to the gym, taking their vitamins, etc. Why does all of this get so hard after having a baby?
It's one of the mysteries of the universe, but the fact is you have to actually work to make time to do these things, mama. Chances are you're going to have to shower at random times (AKA whenever your baby is asleep for longer than 15 minutes), and you'll have to try and fit in a lot of self care into that time. I always find that I have to split up my shower activities if I know that I don't have a ton of time-- sometimes it's just a body shower, sometimes I get the dream experience of washing my hair, sometimes I just get in there and shave my legs and hop out right away.
There's no right way, and some days will look different than others, and some days will be easier than others to get everything done that you need to, but make it a point to take a little bit of time to do a face mask and take a bath for a few minutes if that makes you happy, and don't feel guilty because the baby is crying for an extra couple of minutes.
This is something that I think is important for every mama, especially when you have a new member of the family hanging around. It's so important for you and your partner to make time for each other, and that happens by getting yourself a sitter, getting out of the house, and hanging out with your man for a little bit to remember that you're something other than a new mama and that you have a great support system.
If you're breastfeeding, you'll probably find it hard (actually, it's kind of impossible) to get out of the house for a long date night because your baby is going to miss you, and your shirt is not going to thank you. So, at least for now, keep the dates short and sweet, but make it something that you both love to do together! Do yourself and your man a favor and don't spend date night at Costco-- I love getting my bulk supplies as much as the next mama, but you need to make date night a little more special and make it focus on your relationship and not on taking care of the daily needs at home.
SOME or Nothing
This is something that I have to remind myself about taking time for myself during the day, and it's so so important for mamas when they have a newborn at home, and that is that it doesn't have to be ALL or NOTHING, it just has to be SOMETHING. Maybe you don't have time to get away for an entire day at the spa to get a facial and a scrub, but that doesn't mean you can't sneak away for half hour to get a manicure if you're feeling it. Maybe you can't do an overnight trip with your man to get some space and good food, but you can head to your favorite local spot, rent a movie, and spend time together that way.
The chances of you having lots of time to do what you really want to do right after having baby are small, but you can still take the little moments you do have and make them special for you. It's all about finding peace and happiness and health in the couple of minutes that you're able to carve out for yourself. It gets easier, and you won't always be so tethered to your little one, but just remember that any little contribution to your sense of self matters!