10 handy tips to give yourself a postpartum break
When you’ve just had a baby, even the simplest things can suddenly start taking a lot of effort. Things like going out, completing household tasks and even making decisions can take on massive proportions. The little human that you spent nine months growing suddenly needs you almost 24/7, which is a huge strain, physically and mentally. You need a break mama - but one that works around your baby’s timetable! With that in mind, here are ten tips to give yourself a postpartum break.
1. Be your own cheerleader
Parents are infamous for self-condemnation, so it’s time for some back-patting instead. You fed your baby? That is awesome! This exercise is about being mindful of the basic things you’re doing for the benefit of you and your family. Perhaps you’ve opened a savings account or signed your child up to KiwiSaver: in doing so, you’ve prepared for their future wellbeing.
2. Run your own race
Comparing yourself to others is a stumbling block like no other. Writer and parent Miriam McCaleb notes, “It’s very hard to celebrate the beauty of a moment when your head is busy running another script altogether. We would be well advised to notice the places in our lives where small comparisons are robbing us of joy.”
3. Plan your dream holiday
Even just imagining a holiday is sure to relieve stress, so go ahead and seriously consider what kind of getaway would rejuvenate you, and start saving and planning for it now. Would it be time to bond as a family but with childcare on hand? Time to sleep in, eat good food and walk on the beach?
4. Find something every day that makes you laugh
Did you know that just the physical act of smiling sends a message to the part of your brain that registers happiness, which then causes all sorts of good endorphins to pump around your body. Even just imitating a smile will make you feel happier. Hit up YouTube for things that make you laugh, or even just smile, and set aside 10 minutes a day to indulge.
5. Arrange to spend time completely uninterrupted
As a new parent you will find that having personal space is now a thing of the past. It can really help to schedule (yes, schedule!) a small chunk of time that you spend only by yourself, when nobody requires anything from you. Ideally, during this time your partner or trusted caregiver is looking after Baby. You could be indulging in YouTube hilarity (see #2) or relaxing to music (see #9), walking the dog, or just standing outside absorbing sunlight or fresh air. Remember - sleeping doesn’t count!
6. Engage your mind
Reading engages your mind in a way watching or listening doesn’t, but we realise that you might be a little brain-tired mama, so we’re not suggesting you pick up a copy of War And Peace. Instead, when you have some downtime, find a website that lists weird and wonderful facts about your favourite subject or check out Twitter’s funny parenting quotes!
7. Get it delivered, and do it online
We’ve all said it: “I wish [insert item] was delivered! It would make life so much easier”. And who doesn’t love receiving packages, even if it’s just a replacement stock of nappies and wipes. If your budget allows, opt to get some things brought regularly to your door - your groceries and the odd dinner are great for starters! Have you thought about paying your bills via AP to save time?
8. Forego a task that isn’t essential
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all those Things To Do it’s time to get back to basics. Make a list of the absolute essential things you need to do for the day - and we mean absolute essential, because some days, if you and your little ones are nourished and safe that’s all that needs to matter.
9. Chill out with music
Studies* have found that listening to music can lower your body's levels of cortisol, a hormone that contributes to feelings of stress and anxiety. Stress either exacerbates or increases the risk of health issues like heart disease, obesity, depression, gastrointestinal problems and asthma.
10. Supplementary support
Wellbeing starts with a balanced diet, but sometimes women can benefit from a little more support. These elements are among the hardworking essentials a busy mama needs:
Iron carries oxygen to the blood and being constantly tired can be a symptom of low iron levels. It’s always a good idea to seek advice from your doctor first though.
Calcium is essential for strong healthy bones, so ensure you’re a fit and able 80-year-old grandma, by stocking up on dairy, broccoli and kale now.
Vitamin C is famous as a cold fighter, but it’s also great for skin, boosting collagen and moisturising.
And don’t forget H2O to stay hydrated!