I was reading through the Say Yes archives recently and found a post where I talked about surviving the first three months with a new baby and the challenges both physically and mentally that came with it. I’ve realized that since then, besides talking about postpartum fashion ( favorite postpartum outfit, tips for dressing postpartum, and some transition outfits), I haven’t really talked much about taking care of yourself physically and mentally as a mother when everything is so focused on the child’s needs and wants. I thought I’d give a little update on where I’m at in that area with two kids, and let some friends of mine weigh in on how they take care of themselves as busy mothers as well.
This post is sponsored by Olly Vitamins. Get 20% off all purchases on olly.com using the code SAYYES. Workspace photos by Rachel Thurston, all others by myself.
You know how the safety instructions on airplanes tell you to put on your air mask before helping your kids? In some ways that has always seemed so against my instinct as a parent. Of course we would want to put our children’s health and safety above our own, but the safety instructions are right: the reality is that if we ourselves aren’t healthy and safe we can’t protect our children. DUH! But somehow it still seems against my instinct as a mother. If we’re out for a walk and Henry is cold I’ll probably give him the jacket I’m wearing (I’ll be okay! I’m an adult who can handle cold temperature without whining!). If there’s only one bite of pizza left, I’ll let Edie have the last piece rather than take it myself (I probably don’t need another piece anyway!). I remember my mom was like that growing up. We probably had 3x the amount of clothes she had but if there was something we liked in her closet she would just give it it us! As parents we often find ourselves being selfless and putting our family’s needs first, which of course if a beautiful thing. Although sometimes it’s not.
Sometimes I find myself feeling overwhelmed or unhappy and I have to stop myself and think, wait. What do I need to make myself healthy, happy, and fulfilled? Even if it costs money we could use elsewhere, or is inconvenient for my spouse or children. Here are some of those things I’ve found I need to be healthy, happy, and fulfilled as mother:
1. Work. I’ve found that I need to be a working mother to be happy mother. I don’t need to work long, stressful hours, or even go to an office every day but I do need to be doing something creative and interesting with other adults, and get paid for it. One thing that’s important about it to me is the encouragement and positive reinforcement! As a mother you don’t always get a lot of that. I usually have to pat my own back when I manage to run all my errands and pick up Henry on time from school! I know a lot of women don’t need a career outside of taking care of their families, but I’ve found that I do for my own sanity, and to be a good parent.
2. Nutrition. It is so easy to just eat the leftover mac and cheese! I go through stages of eating well and taking the time to make something healthy for myself instead of eating leftover mac and cheese and cramming pretzels in my face running out the door. It’s so hard though and a constant battle!
One thing that I used to be horrible at was taking vitamins every day. It was just one of those things I never did! Since partnering with the new all gummy vitamins, Olly, I’ve been a lot better about. Olly packs in all those essential vitamins we need in pretty containers with easy-to-read labels and delicious gummy flavors. They have everything from Solid Bones and Purely Probiotic to Restful Sleep (which I take every night and love!) and a great Women’s Multivitamin. The Women’s Multivitamin is a good place to start and it’s exactly where I began taking vitamins. It comes in both berry and citrus flavors and it feels like a little treat instead of a chore. So that’s one thing in the nutrition category that’s easy to do (because let’s be honest, eating really well is so hard).
Here are some friends ideas as well on prioritizing nutrition as a mother:
Karen: “Once I went on a trip to Portland with a girlfriend and was the first time in years that we were able to eat like civilized human beings and not just scavenge off the left-over bits of our kid’s pizza crusts, fruit skins, congealed eggs and gristley bits of bacon. We realized that choosing and eating our own food was, shockingly, important to our physical and emotional well being.”
Sara: “Before I had kids I don’t think flu season was even on my radar but now it kicks our butt every year. Since getting sick is even less fun now, I’m trying to get ahead of it by taking good care of myself. I’ve been bulking up on the greens and if I’m in for the night, I actually go to bed at a decent time. Simple changes but I feel really good for it.”
3. Exercise. It’s always a struggle to find the time and putting your exercise at the top of your list in terms of priorities! I go through stages for this as well. Sometimes I’m into exercise videos at home like yoga and P90x. It’s the easiest because you don’t need to leave the house or get a sitter! But mostly I love heading out for a run or bike ride in Golden Gate Park since it’s across the street. Usually I need to have a goal like a half marathon or something coming up to feel motivated. Edie loves the bike so I try to plan a little extra time and run my errands on the bike. I just got an extra big basket too so I can hold more stuff.
Here are some friends ideas as well on prioritizing exercise as a mother:
Erica: “I like to go running early in the morning. I’m usually awake anyway thanks to early-morning feedings, and then on top of the physical benefits, there are so many advantages to my morning jog. I get out of the house (sometimes the only time that day), I get some much needed alone-time, and my husband has to deal with any fussiness from the baby. Best of all, if I need to eat my feelings later that day, I can do so guilt-free.”
Ashley: “Getting a dog this last year has been one of the best things for me (and my family). Dogs require walking and exercise so it’s nice to have something to motivate me to get out the door and get moving. I love taking our dog to the hills near our house where she can run off leash and I can get some fresh air and time to think.”
Angie: “I surf. I love it. I hesitate to say that I need it, because I’d like to think that I could live without it if I moved away from the coast and I know there are more important things in life (like my family)–but I do love to be in the ocean and I really really love to surf. When my youngest was a few months old, and I had been out of the water for six months because of the pregnancy, I was feeling slightly depressed and overall overwhelmed with the responsibilities of a two-year-old and a newborn. I needed to change something so, with the agreement from my husband, I budgeted a babysitter every week so I could surf. It’s my weekly adventure–a time I am alone to my own thoughts and in the ocean. It not only helps me physically but it very much saves me emotionally. I know I’ll be a much happier, calmer, more centered mother when I have it.”
4. Friendships. I feel like the older I get the harder it is to make and keep good friends. We’re all so busy and so consumed with our own lives as adults. I’ve found though that I need that girlfriend interaction on a regular basis. It was part of the reason I went on the canoe trip this summer (checking off both friendships and exercise!). Every week I try to have one evening out with a friend and one evening out with Jared. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s my goal. Since I’m working during the day, I can’t meet up for playdates or lunch outings with friends as easily so evenings are when I try to get together.
Here are some friends ideas as well on prioritizing friendships as a mother:
Sara: “One way we can keep taking care of ourselves as mamas is to make time for our friendships. As mother’s we need our friends more than ever. I like to take the time to go on walks or a yoga class with a friend. Or get together to do something creative. By weaving in activities that you enjoy as an adult (and not just seeing your friends at the kid’s music class) – it is imperative to have that quality time with your tribe to talk about life, share challenges and accomplishments or just laugh!
Jennifer: “One of the best ways I take care of myself physically, as well as mentally, emotionally, and maternally, is to walk with my friends! It’s amazing how much I get done and how great I feel about myself after a long walk or hike with friends. Here in San Francisco, I can walk out the front door and head to Lands’ End—six miles and 90 minutes later, I have checked the exercise box, caught up with friends, learned more about what’s going on at school, solicited advice on the latest parenting challenge, heard about the week’s hottest restaurant and enjoyed more than a few laughs. Either while walking or at the end of the outing, I always try to take a deep breath and be in the moment to appreciate my wonderful family, great friends and this beautiful city.”
There are many more things I’d add as well like reading, music, and time alone.
Sometimes though, you do have to give yourself a break. I love what my sister in law Lauren said, “The reality is that my needs probably aren’t being met. I am mostly just in survival mode!”. I think we all feel this way a lot especially with young children and busy schedules.
I’d love to hear from other moms. How do you do to prioritize you needs as a mother? Do you feel like you’re better/worse at self care since becoming a mother? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I’m so tired of every blog featuring content with sponsored products in it. I don’t get it. How much product do they really move product?
I’m so tired of every blog featuring content with sponsored products in it. I don’t get it. How much product do they really move.
I’m so tired of every blog featuring content with sponsored products in it. Does anyone even but these products just because they are in a post.
As mama’s we often put ourselves at the bottom of the list, good on you for looking after yourself! We should all be following your lead!
Wonderful post! And really nice to hear your thoughts on work (and being paid). It’s a source of guilt for sure, and it’s nice to hear from others on the point.
Some friends and I were saying we need to get a morning sitter now and then, and go out to breakfast with our husbands when we are both still fresh and alert. I am so wiped by the times the kids are asleep.
Great post Liz!
Liz, you do such a great job with your sponsored posts. You put a ton of effort into them, and I like that you don’t just cut out after you get the promo in. This was a great post on its own merits!
I agree, Linda!
My husband and I don’t do a great job of taking time for ourselves, but we did start doing one “morning off” each month where one of us gets to do what we want while the other takes care of the kids. I usually take the opportunity to catch up with my friends that don’t have kids yet. I love it!
Such a great idea! I’d love a morning off too
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