The moment your baby enters the world, they become priority number one. This shift in focus can result in new parents forgetting to take care of themselves. Guilt, overwhelm, and stress can be hurdles for new parents and ‘me time.’ These emotions are quite typical when adjusting to parenthood. If you’re experiencing anxiety or negative thoughts for more than two weeks, chat to your doctor about coping strategies.
You are allowed to take time for yourself! Parenting is a full-time job, but everyone needs a break. Try these approaches to fitting in downtime:
Schedule your days: Preparing a loose schedule can provide you with a comforting sense of structure and increase feelings of productivity. Write down what you need to do, what you want to do, how long it should take, and when you intend to do it.
Remain flexible! You wrote this schedule, so don’t let it own you – you may have been overambitious and find yourself with lots of tasks yet to be done at the end of each day. That’s fine! Adjust your expectations moving forward.
Set aside a timeslot for you: Incorporate a ‘me-time slot into your schedule. This may not happen at the time you planned; your little one may need to be fed at the exact moment you curl up on the couch with a book. That’s alright – your schedule is loose. Remember that you owe yourself this time and try to make it up later if you get interrupted.
Mindful, small breaks: Maybe the idea of setting aside a full 30 minutes to sit down and do your own thing is more stressful than relaxing. We all have individual approaches to downtime and time management.
Take pleasure in the little things: Feel the steam hit your face from a hot cup of tea. Take three deep, slow breaths before you get up to check on your crying baby. Touch your toes every morning and hang there for 10 seconds, focusing on how it feels to lengthen your spine.
Set expectations: It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by mounting dishes or growing laundry piles on top of taking care of an infant. Establish expectations with yourself, and with your co-parent if they’re involved.
Determine ahead of time how long dishes can sit by the sink before they really need to be done. How sticky can the floors get before somebody must mop them? Keep in mind that the houses of new parents are rarely spick and span. It’s important to keep your home clean and safe, but your standards might need to drop temporarily.
Understand the boundaries of everyone in your household when it comes to chores and standards. Sometimes it’s far more beneficial to take a nap or watch a movie than to do the laundry.
Socialize: Spending time with friends, family, and other adults can help you check back in with reality outside baby world. ‘Me-time’ might take the form of social time. Everyone will be itching to get a cuddle with your little one, so this could be some hands-free time for you to sit back, relax, and talk to someone about how you’re going.
Accept help: The offers of support you’re probably receiving aren’t hollow; accept them! You do not need to do everything yourself, and it can be counterproductive to place that pressure on yourself. Outsource to friends, family, or paid help if you can.
Relish in the necessary: If you struggle to wind down and feel guilty making time for yourself, try to savor the essentials. You have to eat! Be mindful of the smells and flavors, chew slowly, enjoy feeling fed and nourished. You have to shower. Take a few moments under the hot water to release tension from your muscles, or take a bath.
Bulk cook: Prepping and cooking a big batch of soup, pasta, or anything you can freeze is a time saver overall. You may spend an extra 45 minutes in the kitchen today, but you won't need to cook for the next five days!
Walks: Walking is a low-intensity, relaxing form of exercise that will get you outside, moving and breathing fresh air. If you don’t feel you’ve got time to be apart from your little one, take the pram for a walk. Soak in the sights and feel the blood and oxygen pumping around your body.
Remember: Taking care of yourself is a huge part of taking care of your family. Setting aside time for yourself to do not entirely baby-centered things can be helpful for you and those around you, including your child. If you find yourself frequently overwhelmed or experience negative thoughts for a period of time, speak to your GP.