Self-Care Essentials for New Parents
As a new parent, you hardly have time to catch your breath, let alone indulge in a self-care pampering session. However, you can’t give your baby the care and love she deserves if you’re not taking care of yourself too. That means you have to find time for self-care, even if that’s five minutes of me-time behind a locked bathroom door.
Self-care helps you find balance, prevent postpartum mental illness and keep your relationship strong in this new, often tumultuous, phase of life. While you might not have time for a massage or a night out with friends, there are simple things you can do to practice self-care such as these five suggestions.
Lean On Your Partner
According to the MGH Center for Women’s Health, women who lack proper support from their co-parent experience higher rates of postpartum depression. Now more than ever, it’s critical that you balance the workload of childrearing, housekeeping, and other household labor with your partner. If you’re parenting alone, seek support from family, friends, fellow parents and other sources. Even if that’s just 90 minutes of conversation a week, there’s value in having a place to share stories and reaffirm your value as a parent and a person.
It’s normal for new parents to feel nervous about hiring a babysitter for the first time. If you’re not ready to leave your little one with someone else, find other ways to reduce your workload. You can hire a house cleaner to visit once a week so you get the pleasure of living in a clean home without stressing over chores. Or you can hire a dog walker if your dog is giving you puppy dog eyes because you can’t find the time or energy for walks. Your dog will be better behaved after a good walk, and you’ll get to conserve your limited energy for other tasks.
Sleep as Much as You Can
The importance of sleep probably isn’t news to you, but it can’t be overstated. In addition to napping when your baby naps, alternate nighttime feeding duties with your partner so each parent gets uninterrupted sleep. While some parents opt to switch off nights, others tackle feedings in shifts. Find what works best for you and consider sleeping in a separate room during your off-shift if you’re easily woken.
Eating becomes a juggling act when you have an infant in the house. However, the last thing you should do is skip meals or subsist on convenience foods. You need quality nutrition to stay physically and mentally strong, so find ways to make healthy eating as simple as possible. Stocking your freezer with pre-made meals (prepared meal delivery services are a great source) and snacking on raw fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, yogurt, and other no-cook foods are some of the easiest ways to eat well when you’re short on time and energy.
When your day is going poorly and getting worse by the minute, step outside. Spending just 15 minutes outdoors can lift your mood and help you break out of negative thought patterns, Time reports. Find an excuse to go outside every day, whether that’s walking your little one in a stroller or catching your breath with breathing exercises.
Self-care can feel selfish when there’s a little one depending on you for every need. But that’s exactly why you need self-care. It takes a lot of energy to be a good parent, and if you’re neglecting yourself for the sake of your baby, it’s only a matter of time before physical, mental and emotional exhaustion hit you like a ton of bricks. When you make time and space for your own needs, you, your child and your family all benefit.