It can take years to develop the habits and practices that help you on the way to wellbeing. Through slow and steady progress, as you incorporate more healthy habits into your lifestyle and cut down on the bad, you finally reach that hard-won moment where you can start to tick off your health, happiness and fitness goals. And then a baby comes along, and wildly throws a grenade into the middle of it all.It may be a routine that’s turned upside down, a new desire to have two glasses of wine rather than trying to de-stress with yoga, or the simple feeling of utter exhaustion that has you dropping off whenever you try to meditate. Whatever it is, staying healthy, happy and dedicated to your wellness habits can become a whole new challenge with a tiny person in your life.
Accept What’s Out of Your Control
Most women know that their personal priorities will be put on the backburner for a while once they have a baby. The shock comes when the true extent of this becomes clear. Some people, of course, struggle less because they have what is dubbed as a “easy baby” (although no newborn is a breeze!). But when you are facing such a big life change as it is, even the smallest extra challenges - such as colic, or a baby who won’t sleep at night - can send you into a tailspin.
Maybe the birth didn’t go to plan and was more traumatic or physically taxing than you accounted for (especially if you’ve had an emergency C-section), or you would love to breastfeed but are finding it difficult. It’s important to accept what’s out of your control, and not beat yourself up should some of your daily habits slip in the emotional and physical maelstrom. Self-care is more important than ever at this time, and carrying a constant sense of guilt will impact your wellbeing far more than missing the gym for a while.
Do Your Best & Don’t Compare
It’s a natural inclination for new mothers to compare themselves to others, but it can be a pretty dispiriting and misleading pastime. It may seem that a friend, your favorite mommy blogger or an Instagram star has got it all together, but there isn’t a standard which you are failing to achieve. Take the good advice and use them for inspiration, but don’t get bogged down in comparison, because there might be a hundred factors you haven’t considered.
For example, you may have had to return to work sooner than you’d like, while the person who seems to be coping far better has more financial flexibility and time on their hands. Or you might be hundreds of miles away from your relatives, while they rely heavily on grandparents in order to lead the life you admire. In fact, even the most outwardly serene new mother could be secretly struggling with postnatal depression, and be desperately envious of how well you appear to be coping. When it comes to motherhood, you just don’t know.
Keep Consistency Through Small Actions
Good wellness practices are never about an all-or-nothing approach. It’s consistency, not 100% maximum effort, that is often the key, so keeping up your good habits - even in a reduced way - will benefit you hugely in future. The baby stage doesn’t last forever (people often miss it once it’s passed!) and soon you’ll be able to get back into the swing of things, but for now, simply keep up consistency as far as you are able. Here’s a few tips:
- You might not have the time or energy to prepare your usual vegetable-filled, home-cooked meals, but you can grab the healthiest ready-meals you can find and fill your house with fruit to snack on.
- Do some yoga stretches, squats or skipping in the five minutes that it takes for the kettle to boil, or microwave to ping, rather than dragging yourself out for an hour at the gym. Throughout the day, you’ll find this little effort really adds up without completely exhausting you or eating into your time.
- You may not be getting much sleep, but a walk with the pram can be really refreshing - it often sends the baby to sleep, and is a great way to keep up exercise in a low-impact way.
- For a little extra rest, you can sit for ten minutes in your favorite park, cafe or spot at home for a little meditation in the moments when the baby is quiet - providing you with some much-needed me-time!
It doesn’t take much to avoid completely falling off the wellness wagon and neglecting your own self-care; you just need to be realistic about what you can achieve. All the joy and satisfaction of motherhood will shine through, even in the challenging baby-stage (and then, of course, they learn how to run around - a whole new adventure!). By giving yourself a few moments to look after you, you should stay your happy, healthy self throughout their whole childhood.
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