Your little bundle of joy is finally here and no doubt you are in awe of the precious little person who now takes up all your attention.
As new parents quickly learn, the sweet cuddles are also often accompanied by sleepless nights and maybe even days, and a myriad other tasks on our to-do list. Before we know it, we can become so tired that we realize we forgot – once again – to eat lunch. In the midst of your busy day, you may wonder how you will ever find the time to exercise again, let alone sleep and shower. From one parent to another, here are a few basic tried and tested tips.
1. Proper nutrition
We have little time to prepare and eat nutritious lunches when all our time is spent nursing and changing diapers, and if your little one is not a fan of taking naps, it can be challenging to find the time to sit down and eat. I have started to wear my son in a wrap sling while cooking. In the evenings, I prepare lunch and snacks for my husband to take to work the next day. While doing so, I make a sandwich and finger foods (e.g., carrots and celery sticks to eat with hummus; apple slices to dip into almond butter, etc.) for myself. In the morning, I take out the dishes from the fridge and set them on the counter, ready for me to graze throughout the day, often using one hand while holding my baby in the other arm.
2. Making time for fitness
Going outside for daily walks (sometimes twice daily) with my baby allows some time for me to clear my mind while he naps in the stroller (many babies love to sleep outdoors) and get some exercise while we both enjoy the fresh air. Grab a stroller and go for a walk, or a jog (if you have a jogging stroller)! If your baby does take naps at home, that could be a great time for you to practice a few yoga poses or Pilates moves right next to her while she sleeps in the crib. The same applies for times when the baby plays in a play gym. Join a mom and baby fitness class or a walking group! And if, like me, you also want to exercise alone, ask your partner or a friend to watch the baby in the evening while you dedicate an hour to your workout, sans baby!
** Remember to get clearance from your health care provider before starting to exercise postpartum!
3. Let’s not forget sleep!
If your infant wakes up once every hour to nurse or be changed, you’re probably not getting much rest. At night, perhaps you and your partner could take turns getting up to change the baby and, if she drinks from a bottle, feeding the baby. During the day, try to allow yourself some time to forget all about the laundry, the dishes, and whatever else ‘needs’ to be done, and take a nap at the same time as your little one. You may find you will wake up calmer, with an added boost of energy and enthusiasm to face whatever the day brings your way.
4. Be present with what is!
A calm mind contributes to a healthy body. Before my second son was born, I enjoyed a formal daily meditation practice. Now, when I sit down and close my eyes to meditate for even five minutes, I start to drift off to sleep as my body reminds me of the rest I crave. Now, I practice mindfulness – with my eyes wide-open – while taking care of my boys. While nursing or giving your baby a bottle, give yourself permission to be fully present in the moment. That means quieting the multitasking brain. Look at your baby’s face, focus on deepening your breath, and just sit there, doing what you’re doing.
Remember: to take good care of others, we must first take care of ourselves, and our healthy lifestyle habits will set a good example of our children.