Being a relatively new mom to a baby (my other children came to me after they were babies), I read a lot about parenting. One of the things that I often read about is self-care. While I definitely put my kids and husband first, I have always tried to do the things for myself that I know make me a better mom. One of those is, I make myself a big old cup of coffee in the morning. I do that before I make the kids breakfast or school lunches. There is a McDonald’s commercial where the two kids are fighting and trying to tell their mom something, and she’s drinking her coffee with one finger up telling them to wait and the slogan is nothing happens before coffee. That is pretty much true with me, if only my kids would wait like they do in the commercial.
The other thing I do for my mental health is work out. If I don’t feel good, how can I make my kids feel good? I’ve never suffered from depression, but everyone gets down once in a while and exercise is the best natural anti-depressant there is. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when work or travel or family have all gotten in the way and I didn’t make the time to work out for weeks or even months. As hard as it is to get back into it, I always feel great after I do. The trick is to ease back into it. Even if you just walk around the block, it’s better than sitting on the couch. Something is better than nothing as they say. Although I exercised all through my pregnancy (I was really nervous I wouldn’t have the stamina to go through labor and delivery), I didn’t exercise for about 2 months after Cali was born. Getting back into it was hard, but I just started with low impact and worked my way up. Even now, I still keep it relatively low impact. High impact isn’t so easy while breastfeeding. At first I worked out in the middle of the day and just put Cali in her carrier and walked on the beach and she would fall asleep. Then I would come home and do some light weights. I found myself skipping workouts as things during the day would get in the way. Now, I just get up with the kids at 5:45 and make them breakfast and school lunches. Then as soon as they leave, I put in my workout DVD and workout for that hour that Tim is dropping the kids off. It doesn’t always go so smoothly. Sometimes Cali is crawling all over me and other times she is crying because she wants to eat. I just pause the tape, feed her and she usually falls asleep and I can finish my workout.
I rarely skip workouts except when I have to go to town with Tim. Today was an exception. Cali was up until almost 1 in the morning and then she woke up about every hour. She was either teething or her belly was hurting. I gave her infant Tylenol, but that didn’t seem to help. After only about 4 hours of sleep, I just didn’t have it in me to work out this morning. So after the kids left for school, I went back to bed. Lucky for me Cali went back to sleep as well. I guess that was a form of self-care as well, but I still feel a little guilty. I have been telling myself I should go workout on the beach, but it just seems like a lot of work to bring the baby out there and cover us both with bug spray before we go out. I am going to try it this week and report back on how it goes.
Lastly, the other thing I do to relax is when Tim leaves in the afternoon to pick up the kids. First, I put on music and start dinner. I actually like to cook so this is relaxing for me. Then when I have dinner going, I fix myself a little drink and watch Jeopardy. I’ve watched Jeopardy since I was a kid with my dad. Back then, I never knew any of the answers. At least now, I know or at least have a good guess as to some of the answers. I secretly have this dream of being a contestant on Jeopardy, but I think I need to get better at trivia. I think I will start taking notes on interesting questions that I encounter on Jeopardy as my mom brain does not seem to retain any of the newfound knowledge I get from watching it. I usually just make a wine spritzer and it’s not every day either, but it is one of my favorite ways to relax and prepare for the chaos of all the kids coming home from school. I want to make sure I greet them with a smile and not a stressed out mom face.