When I was a new mom, I was absolutely maxed out for the first year. My baby didn’t sleep much at night and my self-care practices were at an all-time low. If it wasn’t for nap time, I’m not sure my sanity would have remained intact! So, however you’re feeling right now, be gentle with yourself. Having a new baby is hard, hard, hard—no matter how stinkin’ cute and sweet that little one is! Now, more than ever before, it’s vital that you practice self-care whenever you have time, even if it’s just a little bit here and there.
You may be tempted to clean the house or help a friend during naptime, but please prioritize your self-care right now. It’s OK if your house gets a little dusty for a few months, or if your friends can’t count on you as much right now. It’s temporary. You give so much as a new parent, and you deserve to be replenished.
Here are ten things to do when baby gives you a break:
Take A Bath.
Yes, this is cliché. No, it’s not overrated. A warm bath (especially one that includes bubbles, candles, and aromatherapy) is extremely soothing. Plus it gives your mind time to unwind as well.
Have you been grabbing convenience food because you’re too busy to think about eating well? As you know, eating poorly may seem easier, but it creates a cycle of feeling worse, as your body requires proper nutrition to function well and have energy. So, in your little bits of spare time, make up a big pot of soup. Prep some veggies, or throw together a green smoothie.
Lean On A Friend.
Do you have a giving friend who’s a great listener? Now might be a good time to give them a call. Sometimes, having a non-judgmental friend you can tell anything to can be so nourishing.
Doing some yoga can be very relaxing and refreshing—and can even help your back recover from constantly carrying baby around. Enjoy some slow stretching time, either in silence or with music.
There’s that old stigma that goes along with talking to yourself—but some of the healthiest people make this a regular practice! Giving yourself a pep talk (preferably in the mirror) is a powerful thing. Simply take a few minutes to look at your reflection. Focus only on the positive (this is a criticism-free zone) and say kind, encouraging things to yourself. Speak as if you’re talking to your best friend.
Even if this a new concept for you, there’s no better time to try. Don’t worry about “doing it right,” just make an effort. Here’s a simple meditation technique you can use to start: Find a comfortable spot (such as a recliner) somewhere quiet. Sit down and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and slowly. Then, as you breathe in, affirm: “I am totally relaxed.” As you exhale, affirm: “I let all tension go.” Continue to breathe in and out, silently doing your affirmations as you go. Even five minutes of this exercise can be very refreshing and soothing. Also, keep in mind—you’re free to change up the affirmations as you like. Simply choose something you want more of for your inhale, and something you’d like to let go of as you exhale.
Sometimes, you just need to veg out and watch something that makes you laugh. Nap time can be a good time to catch up on the latest episode of Modern Family or that stand-up comedian on Netflix you’ve heard about.
If you’ve got a few brain cells lurking around, now is a good time to do some contemplating. Think through what’s not working for you right now. What are your biggest challenges? Do some positive, can-do thinking to create solutions. For example, are you finding mealtimes stressful? Some possible solutions might be to temporarily pay for a healthy meal service, do more food prep in advance, or ask your partner (or friends) for help. Get creative!
This is generally the advice you’ll get—when baby sleeps, you sleep too. So, if you’re tired (or not sleeping well at night), give yourself full permission to close the blinds, curl up with a soft blanket, and snooze it up.
Especially if it’s a nice day, taking a walk outside can be very rejuvenating. If possible, leave your phone behind and just be out in the fresh air with nothing but you, your thoughts, and some comfy shoes.
We hope these ideas will help you make the most of your baby’s nap time. Again, be gentle with yourself right now. It won’t always be this hard. It’s more than OK to prioritize self-care during the precious few moments that you’re able to!