All first-time parents feel ill-equipped to take on the responsibilities of keeping a tiny human alive. These fears become all-too-real once the baby is home. Between the sleepless nights and the infant's 100 percent inability to care for himself, the first several months of parenthood is both the best and most stressful time of a person’s life. This is especially true if you are dealing with your own physical discomfort or pre-existing disability. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Self-care. That’s the only real way to get through the first six months of a baby’s life without sacrificing your own health or wellness. But self-care is not, contrary to popular belief, simply heading out for mimosas and spa treatments. In reality, self-care is much more mundane -- an important -- than that.
Getting things done
The process of self-care encompasses everything from your morning shower to how you spend the quiet moments while your baby sleeps. One of the most prevalent struggles among new moms is keeping their home clean and organized in the midst of their new responsibilities. Here are a few tips to create a clean and calming environment:
- Enlist help. Your friends and family will be happy to help you settle into your new life as a parent. If you are isolated from your loved ones or simply don’t want to ask, there’s always the option of outsourcing the most time-intensive tasks, such as housekeeping. Improvenet estimates that a routine house cleaning costs between $100 and $200 -- money well spent that will help you reclaim a few hours of your week.
- Divide the load. In addition to outside help, if you’re sharing a home with your spouse or partner, now is the perfect time to split housekeeping duties.
- Let it go. Having children means having messes -- and that’s OK. Having a disorganized home does not mean you live in squalor but that your family takes priority over the little things. Learn to let certain things go. Prioritize those cleaning tasks that affect your family's quality of life – dirty dishes, spills on the floor and washing clothes are musts. Moving your baby’s toys and putting up said laundry are not.
Sane and sound
Now onto more personal self-care practices that matter the most when you’re a new parent. While most of this will sound like common sense, the vast majority of new moms neglect their own basic needs. This is also OK to a point. But there are things you must do to keep yourself moving forward.
- Sleep is one of those everyday activities you don’t really miss until it’s gone. And when you have a baby, sleep is one of the first things to go. However, as Parents reports, lack of sleep can be dangerous to you and your newborn. Take naps when you can, enlist assistance for overnight feedings, and don’t be afraid to close your door to those visitors who aren’t ready to roll up their sleeves and change a diaper or two.
- Have some ‘you’ time. You have a baby now and are morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably, and reliably obligated to care for their every need. But you also have to care for you in order to be more effective in caring for them. Even if it’s just five minutes each day, spend some time alone. Read a magazine article (or listen to an audiobook), take a hot shower, or hand the baby off to your partner so that you can take a quick walk around the block for some fresh air. New York University goes into greater detail on why it’s important to make time for yourself.
As cliché as it sounds, having a baby really does change everything. But when you’re struggling with a disability of your own, some things shouldn’t change -- specifically the way your take care of your own wellness needs.