Note: I originally wrote this post about four months postpartum. Here’s the funny part: It’s now a FULL YEAR later before I’m actually hitting Publish. That pretty much tells ya everything you need to know about the first year of parenting. Anyway, enjoy these tips on how to stay sane after having a baby.
There’s a lot of memes floating around on the ‘net like the one below, which make non-moms and new moms think maybe we need to stay drunk to keep up with this whole parenthood thing.
Parenthood can be stressful. Sleep deprivation, weight gain, income changes (usually decreases) and navigating the weird and wacky world of child rearing all work together and leave us feeling less confident and carefree than we were pre-baby. Aside from getting the value membership to the wine of the month club, what can we do to stay sane postpartum?
Here’s what I have found is working to keep me sane and smiling during this postpartum – now toddler – period.
5 Ways Stay Sane After Having a Baby
If I had to choose just ONE way to stay sane after having a kid, it would be exercise, for multiple reasons.
My daily walk with Tanner and our dog is my non-office office hours. I make phone calls, scroll on Instagram while walking (don’t judge me), and get to move my body all at the same time!
A few times a week we hit up the Stroller Strides stroller workout, which is awesome because in addition to getting a workout suitable for all levels (everyone from 6 weeks PP to five years crushing it at their own pace), I get to chat up other mamas and find out if everything my kid is doing is normal. I mean, does your kid try to grab their poop EVERY time you change the diaper? Does your baby boy get boners (who knew that was a thing?) Does your child only sleep in the car seat for naps, too? You get my drift.
And when I am fortunate to work out ALONE… omg you guys. It is heaven. Getting your blood pumping, taking deep breaths, working up a sweat… it’s the best. You will come back to your family SO MUCH NICER and so much calmer. Endorphins are the real deal, my friends. Forget xanax, just go to a HIIT training session and you’ll come back floating on a cloud.
If you feel like it’s impossible to work out, there’s no time, you’re the only childcare person, etc., look for free short workout videos on YouTube. You can get 5 minutes in, or 20 minutes, while your kid naps. Yes you can. YES, you can. Don’t argue with me. You’re reading this blog post right now, and you could be working out. GET IT MAMA.
Ah, the great outdoors. Nature is a balm for the soul – yours, and your little ones. When Tanner is a psycho screaming mess and nothing works to calm him down, we just walk outside and voila! It’s like I have a new child – one, mind you, who is not red in the face and pulling his hair out.
Fresh air does everybody good, and I think we’ve forgotten that we belong in the great outdoors. I don’t know if its just my kid, but he will play for a solid hour with leaves, bark, dirt, and other stuff he finds in the backyard. It holds his attention way better than the plastic toys with blinking lights. Plus, it’s free.
If you live in a snowy, freezing region, and it’s winter… first of all, I’m sorry. I know it’s not easy to be indoors with your babe for days, weeks, months on end. If it’s not crazy weather, try bundling them up and going for a walk with them in the carrier. Grab snowshoes! If they are a little older, try cross country skiing with them either in a carrier (hiking backpack) or maybe, if they are a toddler, even on their own skis.
The best part about playing outside is the kids get SO tired. Hellooooo, long naps! Let them run wild for an hour or two in the yard, or at the park, and they crash so hard when you get home. Win win win.
I know, right now you’re looking at this topic and you’re like “Uh-uh. You have NOT seen my vagina. Sex? No, thanks.” I feel you mama, I really do. I had a drug free labor with Tanner and had some tearing, so I was NOT interested in having anything put inside my magical cave. The first time we tried, it felt like my husband’s man parts were wrapped in sandpaper. I know, I’m really drawing you into this one. Hear me out.
After about eight weeks, maybe nine, we tried again. And it was awkward, fumbling, and scary, but with enough lube, patience, and creativity (finding the position/way that is comfortable for you) we managed to make it to the big O. And O-M-G. I needed that. Like, actually, maybe this one should be titled Orgasms rather than sex, because I think it would be equally beneficial alone. The oxytocin and feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters that flood the body after orgasm are THE BOMB. And you deserve them. And you will be nicer, calmer, saner, after you get off.
If you have a sexual partner, and you can do it together, that’s awesome because it’s easy for them to feel a bit neglected after baby. I found for us, it was like a huge sigh of relief to know that a) we could have sex again and it wasn’t horrible and b) we still liked and loved each other and were attracted to each other. Bear in mind, I was still carrying an extra fifty pounds from pregnancy, so it took a certain level of trust and vulnerability to be comfortable getting in the sack eight weeks after baby. But. WORTH IT.
Now, 16 months postpartum, I jump my husband every chance I get – because the chances don’t come that often, and it really helps us feel closer. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and if you don’t have a lot of time, maybe pre-game with a vibe. Grab it, some lube, your partner if you like, get in bed, get off, and get back to parenting.
Mamas: Your sanity can be saved by other mamas. You are not alone, even (and especially) on the days where you feel like you are going batshit crazy and you simply CAN’T DO IT ANYMORE. Please, please, please for the love of God, call another mama who has been through it. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Women (generally) are external processors, which means we need to TALK in order to process what we are going through. New motherhood, particularly in western culture, can be an isolating experience as we don’t have close communities to help raise the child.
Talking to your baby is great, but when your baby is being a jerk (don’t lie, you know you’ve thought it), it really helps to have another adult who can talk back. In full sentences. Without tugging at your shirt, biting you, or crying for more na-na/wa-wa/ba-ba. A play group, mom’s group at church, mommy and me yoga, Stroller Strides (can you tell I’m a big fan?) or any other small community where you can connect with other moms can be your salvation. If you’re in a pinch, and you can’t find anyone to talk to… call me. For realsies. The number is up in the corner of the website. Call the office and I’ll talk you off the ledge, okay? Love you girl.
If you’re anything like me, and you run in the yoga/wellness worlds, you’ll see the words self-care getting thrown around like confetti. I see other mamas posting pics of their jacuzzi tub filled with rose petals, a glass of wine, and a book, and I’m like, you’ve gotta be kidding me. By the time my kid is asleep it takes all my energy to drag myself to the couch and collapse in front of Netflix while snacking on my kids cereal. Most days.
BUT, that being said, when I do make the time to consciously relax, I realize how desperately I need it, because my mind is going a million miles per hour and taking five minutes for slow, deep breathing – without doing anything else – can make a huge difference.
Relaxation looks different for everyone. Maybe it’s a restorative yoga class, or the bubble bath noted above, or maybe it’s a pedicure, or curling up in your bed with a good book. Whatever soothes your soul, demand it. Tell your partner, parents, childcare provider, best friend, nanny, whoever you can get to watch your kid that your phone is going on silent and you’re checking out for the next hour. You’ll be so much saner when you come back, I promise.
So that’s my top five ways to stay sane after having a baby… I’d love to hear what works for you. And just remember, if all these fail, well, at least we have wine.