When my first son, Miles, was born, I definitely dealt with a little postpartum anxiety. I didn’t realize it at the time, but in hindsight, I can see it clearly.
Prior to motherhood, I was always one of those women who had an “I can do it ALL myself” kind of attitude. I prided myself on getting things done and not needing to wait around for someone’s help to do it. I also measured my self worth by my self-reliant productivity.
So, when I was sent home from the hospital with a newborn and suddenly had someone else dictating about 90% of my life, I definitely found there to be a balance struggle. I felt, as a mom, I should be able to care for my son AND still do the things I did before. I suffered mom guilt whenever I had to ask for help or ask my husband to watch him so I could take a shower. And, when I did get time to go take a shower, I’d RUSH through it so as not to be too negligent of a mother.
Looking back, I realize how ridiculous this is. It was just this power struggle I had in my mind thinking I needed to be ALL THE THINGS. And, while I’m certainly not rid of all my mom guilt, I’ve gotten a lot better at the balance. Here are some little things that help me.
You Can’t Pour From an Empty Cup
I think the first and most important lesson I had to learn was that taking care of myself was essential to me being a good mom. If I didn’t have time to care for myself and do the things that fulfilled me (outside of motherhood), I wasn’t the mother I could and wanted to be.
Taking care of yourself is taking care of your kids.
I learned that taking some time for myself WAS being a good mom. I focused on identifying the things that filled my cup every day and forcing myself to make time to do those things, no guilt attached. You have to start to see the things that fill your own cup as much as a priority as you see taking care of your kids and your home.
Self care in motherhood isn’t saying “me first,” it’s saying “me, too.”
Prior to motherhood, I could make time for all the self-care I needed (and then some) without the help of anyone else. When Miles was born, this was no longer the case. I had to learn that getting help so I could dedicate time to myself wasn’t a selfish act.
For me, this has looked lots of different ways it might be:
- Having Michael take Miles for an hour after work so I can take a long shower and have some quiet time.
- Hiring help. Getting a babysitter or nanny. This is something we did recently and it took me a while to say “yea, I need this help.” I wanted to think I could do it all. But, the truth is I couldn’t. Having a nanny a few days a week has been the biggest breath of fresh air and I’m truly a better mom.
- Communicating my needs with Michael. This is a HUGE one. Neither Michael nor I can do ALL the things we want to do in a single day as parents if we don’t communicate. The first thing I say to Michael every Saturday/Sunday morning is “what do you want to accomplish today?” Then I tell him what I want to accomplish. Maybe he wants to work on the lawn or watch a football game. Maybe I want to organize the basement or take a nap. We both verbalize our needs and then make a plan to make it happen.
- Not feeling guilty letting someone else take Miles for the morning so I can do some work.
Finding Products That Solved My New Problems
You know when you don’t have kids yet and people tell you, “you’ll understand when you have kids” and it’s like, THE MOST annoying comment ever?
But also, it’s so true.
There’s so much you just cannot understand until you have kids. You cannot understand how much you’ll love them. You can’t understand how utterly exhausting and equally fulfilling it is. You can’t understand how on earth moms can’t even find 5 minutes in the day to brush their hair (I mean, come on, it’s not THAT hard.)
Yea, except I remember in the midst of newborn life, it wasn’t unusual to realize it was 7pm and I hadn’t brushed my teeth all day. I was so consumed with newborn feeding, and bottle sterilizing, and spit-up stains, and diaper changes, and doctor’s appointment, that finding even 3 minutes to brush my teeth was sometimes an impossible task. That’s why motherhood has forced me into finding some new products that make certain tasks quicker, easier, and more effective.
Oral-B iO Toothbrush
As I just mentioned, forgetting to brush my teeth wasn’t an uncommon occurrence in motherhood. Or, when I did remember it was a quick brush and who even knew if it was effective or not…
Recently I upgraded to the Oral-B iO toothbrush, and guys it’s an actual game-changer for busy moms (or busy anyone.) I no lie just told Michael the other day “I didn’t realize how inferior my old toothbrush was until I started using this one.” Not only does it make my teeth feel WAY cleaner after every single brush, but it literally takes all the guesswork out of brushing. The interactive display allows you to set your preferred brushing mode and a smart pressure sensor to let you know if you’re brushing too hard or soft. It gives you gentle 30-second reminders and lets you know when you’ve reached the dentist-recommended 2 minutes of brushing. It even comes with the iO App to provide real-time individual tracking and feedback thanks to an AI platform powered by thousands of recorded brushing sessions.
I recently was able to chat with Kareen Wilson is a dental hygienist who practices at Contemporary General Dentistry, a local dentist here in Connecticut. She was telling me about why she recommends this product. She told me she’s seen patient literally CHANGE their mouth health from poor to healthy in as little of two weeks when they include the Oral-B iO toothbrush in their regimen. This was good to know for me, as I’ve definitely not been doing as good of a job as I could be with my teeth lately. She explained how the oscillating and rotating movement are fine-tuned to make sure all of your teeth are brushed effectively!
A few other smart products I’ve introduced into my life that help to solve new problems in motherhood include:
- Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer – Read my full review here on why I’m obsessed with this product as a mom
- Robot Vacuum – With kids, there are always crumbs on the floor. It’s SO nice just knowing that my floors are getting at least a basic vacuum every day. It takes the stress off my plate and essentially automates a task I don’t always have time for.
- Time blocking planners – get my free download here.
Making the Time
Definitely at the end of the day, the hardest part of finding time for yourself as a mom is…well…finding the time. Here are some of my best tips:
- Wake up a little earlier. I’m a big advocate for waking up before you kids. Not always a possibility in the newborn stage since you’re up a lot at night, but once your little ones are on more of a routine 30-60 minutes to yourself in the morning can make ALL the difference.
- Make lists. One struggle of motherhood is we often have 100 tabs open in our brain at once. That means just prioritizing what needs to happen and when can be really hard. I’m a strong believer in using brain dumps and starting with lists to then plan your week and day. Read my productivity method here.
- Get help. It’s not a failure at motherhood to ask for help. No one is intended to do it all. Communicate with your spouse, hire a babysitter for a few hours, lean on friends or family nearby.