I see you, mama.
Struggling through the snow with your stroller.
Having your third coffee by 9 am.
Sitting on the floor and wondering why you have an MBA to spell the word C-A-T over and over again.
Picking up the sticky bits of food off the floor after snack time. Again.
Watching the clock to see if it is any closer to the moment your partner will come home and relieve you from the tedium of diaper changing and repetition.
I see you, mama.
Some days (most days?), feel tough to get through. Being a stay-at-home mama during maternity leave and beyond can feel lonely and isolating.
I know. I have three little women that I love to death. And I experienced all of the above.
Here are 5 tips that I found helped me through some of the grittier moments of motherhood. You will notice that there is a common theme in many of these suggestions – you need to ask for help to get these done. That means enlisting your partner, your family, a local teenager or another mama you can swap time with. Some of the ideas listed below have childcare options built right in. You need space from your kiddos in order to show up for them better when you are with them.
This has been an off-again-on-again love of mine since I was in my late teens/early twenties. I started with an obsession with hot yoga because I had so much pent up energy it was the only type of yoga I could focus in (because it was so dang hot!). Fast forward to my life now with a business and three small kids and I find that a regular and consistent yoga practice has been one of the best things for my overall health and wellness.
I try to go to back-to-back classes several times a week so that it reduces the frequency that I am out of the house (a little bit less disruptive). It is a double-whammy of self-care in that it helps restore both my mental and physical states. I also have a rebounder (trampoline) at home that is a great quick stress release. Exercise of any kind is always a great mood-booster.
2. Manicure/Pedicure/Massage/Hair/Physio appointment – insert relaxing self-care option of your choice here.
Letting someone else take care of you for a little while is the ultimate way to feel held and to feel good. Without any little hands grabbing at your breasts/hair/whatever they can get a fistful of. This, in turn, makes it a little easier to physically and emotionally hold your babies afterwards. This doesn’t have to be expensive. Lots of these are covered by insurance if you have it, there are sliding scale massage therapists and inexpensive aestheticians out there too.
If you run your own business, side hustle or have a talent in some area – you can also try bartering for services. I’ve done this a lot over the years. Win-win.
3. Go for a walk.
By yourself. Even if it is just around the block in the freezing cold. Getting outside automatically kicks up your endorphin level and helps your body start to feel better. The movement boosts your energy, improves your mood, and increases the quality of your sleep.
I live about a 15 m walk from Lake Ontario and this is one of my favourite places to be – especially if I am feeling like I am about to explode. If it is warm, I will walk right up to the water’s edge and put my feet in. There is something that is extremely calming and nourishing about the water. Especially when you are the foot of a great one. Even just hearing the crashing surf helps ease any agitation.
If it’s sunny, you will also get a dose of vitamin D. Speaking of vitamin D – under my doc’s supervision, I bump this up in the winter months to 3000 UI which helps me ward off illness and plays a part in my mental health as well. Ask your doc about how this might help you.
4. Schedule play dates and coffee dates with other mamas you are friends with that have small kids or babies at home.
Invite them into your mess or go over to theirs. There are also plenty of public play places and drop-in centres that are either free or inexpensive. We also frequent local coffee shops with dedicated little play spaces for kids.
Don’t have any of those friendships forged yet? Strike up a convo at the park with another mom that looks like she might be your cup of tea. Better yet, if you are really feeling saucy, join a local fitness studio that has classes for pregnant, new and young mamas. Toronto Yoga Mamas was one of my favourite places to be when I was pregnant and when I was home with new babies. (See #1)
5. Go to bed early.
I know this one can be really tough and sometimes controversial. Speaking as someone who has a 2.5-year-old who still wakes up multiple times per night, I can’t stress this enough. The earlier you go to bed, the less irritable, impatient and ill-equipped to deal you will be the next day. Even if you have to get up multiple times during the night.
I do what I can to make my bedroom pretty zen. I have blackout shades and I cover up any blinking lights from electronics in the room. I put on a diffuser with lavender essential oil to help calm my nervous system down. I’ve got my phone on “nightshift” to help keep the blue light from tricking my brain into staying up all night and I am working at leaving it downstairs and out of my bedroom all together. I try to go to bed at the same time every night to help secure my rhythms and I make sure to leave at least 10 minutes every night for reading in bed (with a headlamp if I have company).
All of these things are doable even if you already have a sleeping baby in your bed and you have to be super quiet when sneaking into bed.
I see you, mama.
You got this.
IMPORTANT: If you feel even worse and wonder if you might have postpartum depression, anxiety or rage, please ask for help. Tell your partner. Tell your doctor. Read more about it and get support here: https://www.postpartum.net/get-help/help-for-moms/