As mums, we put so much pressure on ourselves. With so much to do and so little time, it serves us all well to take some of the pressure off of ourselves where we can.
In the all-consuming, massive change that is motherhood, try and go with the flow and know that your life will resemble some sort of balance and normalcy again.
Here are a few tips and tricks which have helped me get through the first year of motherhood. If and where applicable, I hope they help you too.
- Make online shopping your best friend.
- Stock up on ready meals that you can pop in the oven and or have easy salads and soups which are ready and easy to eat. This might feel unnatural to you if you were a healthy eater before or if you cooked almost every night before baby like I did. But know that in a few months’ time/ a year, you can get back to your pre-baby cooking and delicious meals. But for now, as a temporary measure to save your sanity put it on hold for a little bit. I remember feeling terribly guilty for not cooking great meals for my husband, but honestly, he didn’t mind in the least. He could see how busy and full-on it all was and only wanted the best for me. I’m sure you’ll find that of your partner too. Make accessing food easy. It will help you from picking up unhealthy snacks and help you feel better too. No one functions well on no sleep and KitKats.
- If you have a dishwasher, use it. If you have a tumble dryer use it (if and where possible of course).
- Get a cleaner in once every week or every second week (more if possible), and get her to do all the bits that are impossible for you to do with a young baby attached to your hip, especially cleaning bathrooms, floors, hoovering, dusting and ironing. Honestly, £30/£40 will never be more wisely spent! There is an incredible app called Handy; it’s sort of like Uber for cleaners. It couldn’t be easier to use and saves you the time and hassle of trying to find someone to help you.
- Don’t worry if it takes you a whole week to do one load of washing, only to have to wash it all over again because you left it in the washing machine too long and it became smelly. (I’ve done that so many times I’ve lost count).
- Lower your ‘tidiness levels’ and become comfortable with the mess a baby brings. Don’t try and kill yourself by always having a sparkling clean house – at least not every day.
- Accept that some days you’re not going to get very much done at all (except for doing the fantastic job of being a mummy!) especially if you are expressing and pumping. That takes time and so does the washing of pumping parts and bottles, only to do it all over again a few hours later.
- At the end of the day – when faced with what feels like a mammoth amount of tidying to do – you could put on your favourite series on your laptop, (Amazon Prime or Netflix is great for this) and watch your favourite movies or series, or find a new series to watch and have that on in the background. I find it makes it all so much more pleasant and makes the tidying go much quicker. You could also catch up on your favourite podcasts or TED talks which interest you or listen to an audiobook. While baby has gone down for the night, try and use the time you do have to tidy and unwind your mind a little.
- Sometimes it seems it will be impossible to rest and, indeed, there may be days on end where you literally feel like you haven’t had a second of downtime, but if you do find a second, take it! Try and recharge and fill your own cup up, even if it’s only a few minutes you can grab. As baby gets older, you will be able to find a little bit more time, but in the early days, take what you can and take comfort in knowing that it will get easier.
- As well as nutrition, we are all aware of how important exercise is, but again, in those early months, it may just seem impossible. This is ok too! Know that at some point when things settle down, that you can get back into your own little exercise rhythm again, even if it looks drastically different from before. I’ve found great ways are to join mum and baby exercise programmes, like baby yoga and mum and baby groups who exercise in the park while baby sleeps or when a little bit older – six months onwards – are happy to play on a mat with the other babies while mums do a workout. Another good option is going for a run in the park with the buggy or even just a brisk walk. Whatever you can deal with, do that.
- Don’t feel like you need to be super mum – there is no such thing. Do what you can. The rest will come. You’ll do more when you can as things settle down and find their own balance.
- If you ever catch the little voice in your head saying something unkind, acknowledge it, breathe one or two breaths in, breathe once or twice out and try not to pay any more attention to it. Take it for what it is – a silly voice. It’s not you. It’s your monkey brain and it doesn’t get to dictate your life. Remember that. You are doing amazing. Remember that too!
Be kind to yourself. Stay well. Love yourself. Appreciate the small things and know that this too shall pass.