They say that one is like none and two is like ten. “They” are correct. I don’t know how it is having three or four children (you’ll have to talk to my Bad Mom sister Michelle), but I do know that having your first baby: hard but rewarding. Having your second baby: harder and rewarding-er.
One key aspect of having children, however, remains the same no matter how many offspring you’ve sprung from your lady-parts. Whether you are a good mom or a bad mom, please for the love of all that is holy (and the sake of your family), take care of #1. Yup – that’s you, mamas. I can tell you that a healthy, happy mama can do a much better job when the going gets rough than a mama who is already strapped for time, sleep, and sanity. I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is that you take care of yourself when you have babies.
I learned the hard way. Having gone back to work right after both kids, naturally I was up for a challenge and some obstacles that I didn’t expect: getting newborns onto bottles asap so I could go into the office (risky to say the least) and forcing my hormones to snap back into place for the sake of business (no whimpering and crying on conference calls people!) I realized about 3 months into having two kids and working full time that I was a hot hot mess. I was crying at the drop of a hat, irritable to the point of driving my husband to do hard drugs (just kidding, just drove him to drink harder booze), and I had ZERO patience for anyone or anything, especially the unexpected. The smallest thing sent me FLYING off the handle. I had to make a change. So I started making smaller changes (because we all know that just jetting off for a week when you have a life is not always an option right folks?)
I know that a lot of my posts lately have been on the tips and how-to bent, but nevertheless, this is important stuff. The only times when I’ve really broken down and “lost it” (and it takes quite a bit for that to happen) were times when I literally had nothing left to give and my tank was verrrrrrrry empty. So here are my suggestions on very basic ways to take care of yourself even if you onlyhavefiveminutestospare…
- Have a shower. Every day. I know this seems like a given to some people, but when you’re a new mama, this can be hard if you don’t have people at home to hold your little. But you gotta make it happen. If you have two, this gets more challenging if you don’t have help – but you gotta stick that toddler in a high chair with some snacks, put that baby in a swing, and get in there and let it rain. A shower can do wonders in such a short time.
- Sign yourself up for ONE hour-long fitness or yoga class per week. Don’t go crazy and get a gym membership. But being physical greatly improves your mental capacities, so just the act of getting out of the house will be extremely beneficial, and then add the process of getting your body moving: it’s gold for busy mamas.
- On the worst days – I’m talking about the days where everything that can go wrong does – if you don’t have help, pack those babies in the car and drive. Go through a drive-through, get a coffee. Or a hot chocolate. Hell, grab a Big Mac if you’re feeling peckish (and like me and forget to eat half the time). Driving and the comfort of not having to chase the wee ones for 20 minutes can do wonders for your sanity.
- When you have help, i.e. a spouse who is home, a grandparent who loves your kids, a reliable babysitter, TAKE THE DAY OFF. Just do it. I know it seems crazy. But schedule yourself a day that is JUST. FOR. YOU. And do whatever.
- SLEEP. The older I get, and the busier life is, the more I realize how hard it is to be a successful mom without sleep. If you want tips on how to fall asleep anywhere, just ask me!
My final piece of advice: don’t play the martyr. No-one in the family wins when mommy is cranky, over-tired, short on patience, and doesn’t look, act or feel like herself.
Your kids are important, aren’t they important enough to be the best you you can be?