Bounce Back After Baby
Bouncing back after having a baby means so much more than simply losing baby weight. You also have to do things like figure out how to relate to your friends without kids, how to deal with the advice of family members, how to get your brain back and more. I’ve been there five times and want you to know that not only can you get back to yourself, you can become a better version of you! Below are seven areas I found it important to give some focus.
FRIENDS. What a minefield! Maybe you have friends who are single, who aren’t able to have kids of their own or, worse, who don’t really like kids at all. Some of these friendships may experience strain after you’ve had your own baby. My best advice here is to feel them out. If they roll their eyes every time you talk about your new tiny love, you might need a break. Or maybe you need to pick a night to get out of the house and meet up with one these friends and at least attempt to talk about a few other things besides your baby!
As for energy-sappers and naysayers (those moms who attack your parenting choices): consider putting them in the friend deep freeze. Replace them with the cool moms you’ll meet when you look up mom meet-up places online. You’ll find plenty of places to hang out with other moms while you catch up and grab a cup of coffee.
FAMILY. When my parents realized I was really serious about this attachment parenting thing, they wondered why I would ever do such a thing. After all, didn’t they raise me better than that?! But once they saw how the kids were thriving, they were on board. I hope you’re blessed with at least a few family members who offer encouraging (rather than condescending) advice. As for the rest you may encounter at family gatherings, practice smiling and saying, “Thank you for that advice. I’ll think about it.”
MARRIAGE. Who is that guy you pass in the hallway in the middle of the night? You may crave a weekly date night, or neither of you may want to leave your new bundle at all just yet. Either way, you are perfectly normal. Everything I read tells my man and me we have to have date nights on a regular basis, but we don’t want to. We enjoy the challenge of sneaking moments to talk early in the morning while little ones sleep or hanging out on the deck while they’re watching a movie in the house. If you need that time completely away together as a couple, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it. If you prefer staying in, be sure to steal those sweet moments regularly.
BODY. It’s not always easy to pop in an exercise DVD and work out, especially on only a couple hours of sleep. I want to hug the person who coined the saying, “Nine months up, nine months down.” Why rush off the pounds when your body needs time to heal, and you need time to focus on your baby? While your baby is young and mostly stationary, consider it your excuse to be Rubenesque for a little while (i.e., enjoy those curves!). Because you probably don’t have access to a trainer, a chef and a team of nannies, once your baby is mobile, you get mobile, too. Push that little punkin on swings and in his stroller, chase him around, walk after him, play lots of hide and seek and peek-a-boo. During bath time, do some squats or lunges or pick up those arm weights. The days of long workouts may be over temporarily, so grab your exercise wherever and whenever you can get it!
MIND. I admit I have mommy brain for a good year after I’ve given birth. To keep your brain from turning to total mush, stay connected to current events, join online forums like Mothering.com, read if you love it, watch the news if it doesn’t freak you out. And if you just need to get it all out of your head, blogging has become a great way to connect with other moms while also using your brain during those late nights when you can’t sleep or during your baby’s nap time. Jill Smokler, author of the blog ScaryMommy.com, says, “I did find my blog to be a savior as far as keeping me connected to people.”
SPIRIT. To knock out both spirit and mind requirements, I like to take a laptop to a coffee shop, grab a drink and write. You may find renewal by spending time with girlfriends alone or exercising alone or just driving around in your car listening to music at full blast like you did pre-kids. If you aren’t big on going out with the girls, use that time off to do something else you love. It can be productive, crafty (scrapbooking), money making (part-time job) or something else (like shopping, a.k.a. “retail therapy,” or going to church alone sometimes).
FINANCIAL. Having a baby doesn’t have to break the bank, even if you decide to become a stay-at-home mom. Registering for simple things like diapers, wipes or formula is perfectly appropriate and will help you save money down the line. And don’t forget about online coupons because every little bit helps. When people ask what you need or what they can bring, don’t worry about telling them you need basic baby care items. Most people would rather bring something you truly need than just another rattle or onesie.
Kerrie McLoughlin (TheKerrieShow.com) lives in Peculiar and raises five kids while trying to go easy on herself.
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.