Parenthood is the hardest thing that any person will ever have to go through. We underestimate how much mommies and daddies go through every day. I’ve made a list of some of the things that I enjoy to get through the days when I’m struggling with parenthood. Now, these things might seem time-consuming (and some of them can be) but you should always set aside some time for yourself every day to keep you sane. Now, this isn’t a “you must do all these to be healed!” kind of thing, it’s a list of a few pick-me-ups that I do on a daily basis to keep my mind healthy as well as my body. Once you start feeling more like yourself, you’ll see a knock-on effect on your relationships with your partner, family and even strangers as you’ll be more open.
1. Look at your child
Yes, you read that right, LOOK AT YOUR CHILD. I don’t mean a passing glance, stare at them. Drink in every little detail of them; every feature, every smile. They change so fast you’re left there wondering how it happened. Time is passing and you can never get these days back. They will drive you to the brink of insanity and back and are the reason you’re not feeling like yourself but they’re yours. YOU created them. Your body is amazing. You’re amazing. Just take a minute to think back to when they were born, those first magical few days. How small they were, their cute newborn cry and the addictive newborn baby smell. You’ll feel so proud of how far you and your child have come in such a short amount of time!
2. Brush your teeth
I know that sometimes you just don’t feel like doing it but it really is a super quick pick-me-up. Oral hygiene is actually really important pre and postnatal. Growing a baby takes so much from our bodies, this includes from our teeth. Teeth get weaker during and after pregnancy and are more prone to cavities.
3. Work out a new skincare routine
Find yourself a quick and simple routine. You don’t need a million steps, just three; Cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize. Different products suit different skin types so try and find something that will tend to the problem areas that you have. TIP: if you have dry skin you’ll find that a gel or lotion cleanser will be more fitting. If you have sensitive skin pick a very gentle exfoliator or if you have oily skin stay away from oily moisturizers.
Spending a couple of minutes looking after your face will help you feel refreshed, added bonuses also include skin retaining elasticity (fewer wrinkles) and fewer breakouts.
Now I’m not saying spend an hour on a full face (ain’t nobody got time for that!), but you’d be surprised just how good you can feel with just some mascara and a pretty colored lipstick/gloss. Even if you’re not leaving the house, you’ll catch a glimpse of yourself in a shiny surface and smile. I know how easy it is to get stuck in a rut with the way that you look and how we look on the outside is reflected on how we feel on the inside. Mental health is important but appreciating your exterior will definitely help you feel better on the inside.
You’ve been eyeing up those shoes or handbag for over a year? Get them. All of your money goes into bills or your babies. Treat yourself. Some things can have additional perks, a sexy pair of heels can always be used in other ways (wink wink..).
I know it seems a lot more hassle than it’s worth sometimes loading the pram up but it doesn’t have to be for long or very far. Make sure babies/kids are fed, watered with clean bums and they’ll be happy to get out of the house too. The fresh air will do you both good. Babies and children get cabin fever too and they’ve no way to vent their frustrations like we do which makes them cranky and difficult whatever age they are!
Walking has the added benefit of getting you into shape, pregnancy changes a woman’s body so much that even if you were a gym freak beforehand you’ll still be suffering the after-effects. Try different paces to get your heart rate up. Exercise releases the feel-good hormone, oxytocin. The same one you get from sex, cuddling and seeing your newborn for the first time.
7. Step away from social media
Social media can have a very profound effect on our mental states. Constantly seeing pictures and stories of people’s “perfect” lives, we’re making ourselves miserable by believing other’s lies. Someone posts that their baby is sleeping so perfectly peacefully. That baby could have been screaming bloody murder for three hours and then fallen into a dead sleep because they’ve worn themselves out so much. We’re made to feel like this should be the norm; that our babies sleep well and our children behave themselves. That’s a fantasy. People don’t want to show anything other than the fantasy because they’re scared it makes them seem useless like they’re failing. So we fake pictures like these to convince everyone else that we have our shit together (when we most certainly do not).
It doesn’t have to be a whole book. Just a couple of minutes while they’re having a nap to lose yourself in another world with a cuppa tea. TIP: if evening reading, find a steamy book. Your partner will be grateful.
9. Start a diary/journal
Writing is amazing (and cheap!) therapy. I’ve found myself feeling freer since I started writing. To put your thoughts and feelings down on paper is very empowering. No one has to read it if you don’t want to, it can be just for you. You’ll be so surprised at what comes out, stuff you didn’t even realize you were holding onto.
Coloring is so relaxing. You might think it’s for the kids but there are plenty of good adult coloring books or apps available. I color on days when I’m feeling particularly vulnerable; it allows me to escape reality and not have to think about anything.
If you’re prone to depressive bouts, stay away! Alcohol is a depressant and has a major impact on your brain’s health. That cheeky glass of wine tonight might be tomorrow’s crushing low.
Sex is a scary thing after having a baby and even harder if you’re struggling with PND but you shouldn’t dismiss it completely. Not even for your partner's sake, for yours. I know how hard it can be to summon the energy when you can’t be bothered or just don’t feel like it. Once your offspring are in bed you should try and spend just half an hour cuddling and watching some tele together to relax. You’ll be surprised where it can lead. Sex is very beneficial for your mental health because of the hormones that are released during/after.
Self-love comes in many forms, it’s not just about looking after your appearance, you have to look after all your other needs too (even the sexual ones!). There’s no need to be prudish anymore, there are a lot of ways that we can satisfy ourselves. There are so many gadgets around nowadays, you don’t have to start off with something like a dildo if you’re not comfortable with one. Clitoris stimulators are smaller, quieter and easier to hide for when you need to “flick the bean”. The clitoris is a very important part of the female anatomy and should be treated as such ladies!
Toys aren’t just for singleton use; talk to your partner, you might be surprised at what he has to say. They’ll usually try anything if it means they’ll finally get some!
13. Know when to take time out
Probably one of my most important tips. It can be very upsetting when you’re stuck with a crying baby. But you could actually be putting your baby at risk. Sometimes you need to step away so that you don’t do something you might regret. It’s ok to take 5 minutes out if they’re crying so that you can compose yourself. It will be a lot easier to calm your child down if you are calm yourself. Babies and children are highly sensitive to the environment around them and they mimic the energy you’re putting out. They can tell when you’re upset and it upsets them too. They need you to make them feel safe and happy but they can’t feel those things if you’re wound up like a spring. Imagine having to spend all day with someone who you can’t cheer up, it starts to affect you too.