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You’re only a few months into this mommyhood thing and you’re ready to tear your hair our. The diapers, the sleepless nights, the nonsensical babbling conversations—you feel like a shell of your former self. Never fear, you can get back on track to a well-rounded lifestyle (which still includes plenty of precious baby time!) with these 10 tips.
1. Remember, You’re Not a One-Woman Show: Don’t be afraid to rely on your partner or a family member for help. Another person isn’t always going to do things exactly the way you do, but that’s ok. Having a second set of hands to wash dishes, help with laundry, give your child a bath, etc. is a blessing. Share responsibilities and you’ll be a happier camper.
2. Do Something Your Former Self Would Do: Remember life pre-kids? What did you love to do? Go to the movies? Get a pedicure? Spend an afternoon window shopping? Do it! Book that babysitter (see #6) or leave baby home with dad and go do something you used to love. And you’re not allowed to feel guilty about it! You probably won’t be able to do this activity on a regular basis, so when you have the opportunity to leave the house solo, seize it!
3. Be a Joiner: If you happen to be a stay-at-home mom, you might find yourself feeling the walls close in on you by the time your baby hits three months. It’s time to get out. Join a mom’s group (visit meetup.com to find one in your area) or sign your baby up for some sort of class. These groups or classes will be great for your baby, but they’re also for you! You NEED to talk to other adults during the day. Bonus: These particular adults will be going through all the same stuff you are. Not only can you have adult conversation, you can commiserate with each other.
4. Huff and Puff: Exercise is probably the last thing on your mind after you’ve had a baby or if you’re running around after a couple toddlers all day. Try to work it in a couple times a week anyway. Believe it or not, you have options. Working full time? Try doing a few laps in your office complex during lunch or walking the mall. At home with the kids? Many gyms offer child-care services while you’re working out. Or just grab your stroller and go for a walk. Find another mom in your neighborhood and set a regular walking date. Having someone to hold you accountable will motivate you to stick with it! For more exercise tips, see Jessica’s work-out posts.
5. Use Your Brain: If you’re staying home full-time with your children, it’s easy to slip into the minutia of daily chores and running around after kids only to pass out exhausted at the end of the day. Eventually, your brain may feel like it’s turning to mush. Just like the rest of your body, you need to flex that cerebral muscle. Start a blog, experiment with recipe writing, conquer the crossword puzzle, teach yourself some DIY projects—just do something that forces you to think outside the laundry-cleaning-diaper-changing box.
6. Take Advantage of Friends and Relatives. For babysitting, of course! Don’t be shy about asking. The worst they can do is say no. My 32-year-old bachelor brother is our go-to sitter for our 10-month-old daughter. It’s rare we can snag him on a Friday or Saturday night, but we’re fine with date night on a Tuesday if it means a free babysitter we can trust.
7. Pretty Up: It’s reaaaaaalllly easy to brush your teeth, put your hair in a ponytail and carry on with your day when you’re spending it with a baby or toddler. But try to maintain as much of your former beauty routine as possible. Being a full-time mom is a job! Just because you don’t go to an office every day doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to a coat of mascara and some pretty lip gloss before you face the world.
8. Mom Jeans? No. Way. So you’re not in the market for high heels and trendy jewelry anymore? That’s fine, but you need to cultivate your mommy style. Whether it’s skinny jeans (you can buy them in stretchy fabric!) and blazers or leggings with riding boots, find your fashion niche and build a wardrobe. Yoga pants and hoodies are only acceptable SOME of the time (like when you’re actually working out). Dressing better will make you feel better about your appearance (just in case you haven’t shed every baby pound yet). Follow Jasmine’s posts on mommy style for ideas.
9. Use Your Social Network: Your Facebook friends or message boards full of other moms (like ours!) are going to be lifesavers when your baby has his first fever or your toddler throws a tantrum at Target. You’ll find out quickly that every mom has been through the same stuff and loves to share her advice for getting through the tough times. Don’t be afraid to virtually reach out to your network when you need some reassurance.
10. Treat Yourself: My friend Molly and I stole this idea from an episode of Parks and Recreation. The idea is to take a day and “treat yourself”—all day long! We usually just take a few hours and do our favorite things—eat cupcakes and shop. We meet for lunch, then go to the bakery for cupcakes (we try a new bakery every time), then onto a shopping spree! Tailor your “Treat Yourself” day to your taste. Go to the spa, on a hike or take in a double feature. The point is to take a nice, solid chunk of time and really do something nice for you. You can go on your own, with your spouse or with a friend, but remember, the kids stay home with daddy or babysitter! “Treat Yourself” days only come along for me every few months, but I look forward to them like nothing else!
Bonus tip: Keep your sense of humor. Kids are funny! And even if something isn’t hilarious at the time, you’ll look back on it and laugh. Really, you will!