It's week three of the new year and I'm feeling quietly self satisfied with achieving certain objectives and striking a work/mum/me balance... But it's also week three... and I'm wondering if I can keep it up, wondering when the next curve ball is going to upset the apple cart.... It will most likely be a tummy bug from school felling the household indiscriminately....
As for many, the start of a new year means setting new year resolutions to improve yourself, your situation or your outlook on life. However, with a new baby it’s often hard to stick to new year's resolutions. To a large extent, your time is subject to your baby's needs - for a while anyway. With a newborn in tow everything becomes skewed - basic tasks like having a wee become hijacked by baby not wanting to be left alone and a routine burping session leaves you unexpectedly with another load of milk stained laundry!
So our best advice? If you've set goals this new year, try to ensure they're realistic & achievable. And then reduce your expectations by 30% at least! Here are 8 resolutions to keep which celebrate the positives in your life with the focus on looking after yourself in 2016.
Remember, every day is new day to redefine yourself or the way you approach and appreciate life. Each day offers a fresh chance to create a better balance.
1. Bank the memories
Instead of creating a list of aspirations, try this for an idea. Every time something good happens or your baby does something for the first time, note it down on a slip of paper with a date and stuff it into a jam jar next time you pass it. It doesn't matter if you've scribbled on the back of a receipt or envelope. At the end of the year ( or at any point you feel overwhelmed by motherhood or need a boost of morale) have a read through the little notes to remind yourself of all the little achievements. It takes the pressure and focus off achieving new goals and instead celebrates life’s achievements as they unfold. Alternatively, join the masses on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook keeping the tone positive and celebratory - best bits only - even if they seem mundane. If you've taken pleasure in it, it counts!
2. Slow down (and smell the roses)
Now you’re a mum, or about to become one, your attention will shift focus to your family life yet many of us still feel the pressure of our fast paced society to be the best and fastest at everything. To become the multitasking super mum who can do it all and more! Learn to slow down. Enjoy living every day as it comes. Living mindfully is the new buzzword and very apt for this time of life with a new baby. Unless you have commitments to meet, it matters little whether it’s a Monday or a Friday. For a while your priorities need only revolve around your and your baby’s well being and nourishment. Take the time to enjoy the process without time constraints or outside pressures. Bringing up a new baby is hard work filled with anxieties and doubts but it’s also a very special time which you can appreciate and enjoy moment by moment.
3. Discover some me time
When you’re busy looking after your home & family its very easy to forget your own needs and push them to the bottom of the priority list. Learn to recharge your batteries by introducing some guilt free ‘me’ time. It doesn’t have to be super time consuming but it should offer you the chance to temporarily disconnect from your maternal responsibilities and relax. Ask your parents or partner to look after the baby whilst you take the time out. Whether that’s going for a swim, attending a fitness or dance class, having an hour to read a book in peace, taking a luxurious bath with some soothing music, learning a new skill or sitting down for a candle lit (takeaway) dinner at home with your partner after your baby is asleep.
4. Prioritise your to-do lists
Writing a list of things to do is a good way of emptying your mind of all the chores that need to be done without forgetting anything. Keep the list somewhere easy to find and prioritise items that need attending to first. Cross things off as you achieve them with a satisfied smile. However, with all your baby’s additional and varied demands to see to, don’t feel deflated if the tasks roll over to the next day or the next week. Instead congratulate yourself on the smaller achievements. Learn to praise yourself if you manage to sort the laundry or get the basket of dirty clothes closer to the washing machine. Congratulate yourself if you've managed to shower & eat breakfast before noon. Be pleased if you make it to bedtime and you've managed to keep your baby safe. It's the little things that count. Most of everything else can wait! The newborn days won’t last forever and you will soon find that you’ll have more time to achieve more than just the basics.
5. Get more sleep!
If only it it were that simple I hear you cry! Exhaustion is detrimental to looking and feeling good. You should be aiming to have between 6-8 hours sleep a night. Now of course a new baby interrupts that sleep cycle somewhat and it’s not exactly something you can rely on achieving. If possible, share the night time responsibilities with your partner so you both get a stretch of good sleep or take the opportunity to nap during the day when your baby does - the restorative benefits of a nap will far outweigh the benefit of having put the laundry away.
6. Increase your body confidence
Losing weight is a common new year’s resolution especially after the indulgences over the festive period and is often a concern for new mums who want to shed any remaining post natal baby weight. If you're aiming to lose some baby weight, give yourself more time to achieve this with healthy post natal slimming. Choose healthy food options and take some gentle exercises. Choose classes where you can take your baby along, a gym with a crèche or make your baby’s morning nap time an energetic walk in the park. In terms of nursing, it’s advised that you don’t diet excessively whilst breastfeeding but you may find it helpful to join a slimming club that offers a healthy eating program for breastfeeding mums. Be proactive about increasing your body confidence but don’t stress about losing any extra pounds. Instead of focusing on weight loss, choose some flattering nursing clothes and some gorgeous accessories that can boost your self esteem whilst giving your body a much needed chance to recover and reshape. Our Pinterest boards offer some good styling advice. It shouldn’t matter if your hips have stretch marks or your tummy is not so taught as it used to be. In time, with time, you can improve on what you perceive as imperfections. More importantly, your body does not define you, it’s who you are in spirit that counts.
7. Embrace yourself
Being pregnant, giving birth, sleep deprivation and having little time to devote to personal health & fitness can take it’s toll on your body and mind. So learn to go easy on yourself and embrace all that is you. We can be our own worst critics but also our very best cheerleader. Your body has done an amazing job creating, nurturing and birthing life. If you’re breastfeeding, it’s producing nature’s nectar on demand for nourishing your baby, selflessly on your part. If you’re getting up several times a night for night feeds your sleep is constantly interrupted, your mind shattered yet your days are spent successfully meeting the multitude of needs of your baby and family. Accept who you are in all it’s faults and glory and have the confidence to go out there and live your life to the fullest for you and your family. Remind yourself daily how great you are. Be Positive. Create some happy.
8. Cherish your partner
Happy healthy relationships thrive on enjoying time together, exploring or experiencing new things and revelling in shared memories. As a new mum, as a new family, it’s can be hard to set time aside to just be a couple. Especially in the early days of being new parents you’re both exhausted and blindly figuring things out by trial and error as you go. It’s very easy to let the new arrival’s needs supersede your own as a couple. Try to remember you’re a team, you’re each other’s wing man, a couple, lovers and in love. Remind him how important he is to you and carve out some precious time together. Being a new mum doesn’t mean you’re only a mum, it’s just another facet to your wondrous self. Show him that you care and that he still matters. We're sure he'll reciprocate in kind!