Once you become a parent, life quickly becomes less about you and more about your child. Parents all around the world dote over their children to the point of forgetting to look after themselves. It is uncommon to find a parent who prioritizes themselves over their child. And while it is very important to put your child first, it is equally important to look after yourself.
Prioritizing your health, both physical and mental, is non-negotiable. When you become a parent, your life changes drastically. This brand new change in lifestyle and identity can be a challenging terrain to navigate. That is why it is of utmost importance to learn how to adjust to this new chapter.
So what can you do to prioritize yourself as a parent? New parents struggle with this the most. Of course, every person has their own definition of what prioritizing themselves means. However, there are some common factors that apply to every new parent. Adding these small changes to your life can greatly improve the quality of your life as a parent. Plus, these adjustments will also help you be more present for your child.
Reflect and Meditate
Taking time out to be alone is very important. You must have the freedom to reflect and meditate all on your own. This can take anywhere between two minutes to an hour or two. The important thing is to spend time yourself. This does not necessarily translate to sitting on the couch and staring at the wall. You can choose to spend some time watching a light show or scrolling through Instagram or TikTok. The important thing is to give yourself alone time to do whatever it is you need to do to just… breathe!
Recognize the Importance of Sleep
You must absolutely never underestimate the importance of sleep. Resting is vital for every human being. As a parent, you probably need it more than the average individual. We, as parents, know that it is very annoying and hard to actually sleep and rest. It is much easier for everyone else to just say it. We know that it’s easier said than done. However, the important thing to know is that rest will restore your energy and peace of mind.
The quality of your sleep is definitely more important than the quantity. To avoid feeling drained and exhausted at all times, actively make time for rest. The best way to measure the quality of sleep is by listening to your body. Do not resist the urge to get some rest by indulging in other chores. Ask for help and lean against your friends and family for support.
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A lot of people will tell you to exercise. We don’t like to use that term very often because it carries a significant sense of responsibility in its connotation. Instead, focus on just moving your body. Let us not forget that your body has just undergone significant changes and needs time to get back to its former sprightly self. Be gentle with your body.
Incorporate movement in your lifestyle, no matter how small. Remember that no movement is too small to disregard. A simple walk around the block can be great for your body and mind. If you enjoy yoga or pilates, ease your body back into it. Work at your pace and don’t overexert yourself.
Socialize With Adults
Too often parents become too immersed in their children’s lives; they neglect the importance of socializing with other adults. As adults, we absolutely need the mental stimulation of engaging with other adults. The invigorating conversations and discourse you will engage in will help take your mind off things. Besides, you will be able to share and celebrate your losses and wins as well. Aside from a fresh perspective, you will also be reminded that you are not alone in this parenting chapter.
Nourish Your Body
Your body needs to be taken care of. You should always keep yourself hydrated and well-fed. Focus on incorporating nutrient-rich foods into your diet. We know that you will no longer have time for meal planning and grocery shopping. Whether you ask for someone else’s help or find time to do it, make sure to focus on healthy alternatives.
Every mama needs to take care of her postpartum diet. Breastfeeding mamas, even more so. Incorporate healthy snacks in your diet and if you need to, sign up for a grocery or meal delivery service. If you prefer to cook, then cook meals in large batches so they can feed you for longer.
Don’t Miss Your Appointments
Visit your doctor regularly. You will undoubtedly never miss any of your baby’s appointments. But don’t let that get in the way of your appointments. Make sure to not neglect or forget your own visits to the doctor. Don’t miss your regular checkups and always keep your doctor informed of your health.
Ask for Help
We cannot stress this enough. Please ask for help from your friends and family. Having a support system is very important. Do not shy away from asking for help. Lean against those around you. There is no shame in needing assistance and help. In fact, new parents need all the help they can get.
It is common to assume that those around you know what you need. That is a grand assumption to make and does not hold true for the most part. Make it a habit to communicate your needs. Not only will this make your life much easier, but it will also remove uninvited feelings of disdain from your heart and others’.
At the end of the day, you cannot be fully present for your baby if you are not feeling your best. You must make sure that you are at the top of your game so you can be there for your child to the best of your abilities. A healthy and well-rested mama is crucial for a happy mother-baby dynamic.
So the next time you feel like neglecting yourself for the sake of your baby, ask yourself “Am I capable of being fully present for my child?” If the answer is not a resounding “YES”, then take a moment to indulge in any of the aforementioned activities so you can feel more like yourself again. You got this, mama!