I saw a photo on Instagram that, aside from making me immediately want to create a watercolor out of it, evoked many feelings of early motherhood for me.
The way the two of them are sitting close in that photo, bare skin, reminded me of how when my daughter, Lucia, was a baby, I could literally feel like we were sometimes one body. Her needs were my needs for sure.
And the slight lotus pose the lady is sitting in has me laughing a little, because I remember when I would occasionally try to meditate next to Lucia, and she would just look at me bug-eyed. The classic tension created from mama just needing a little breathing room for a moment.
Now that Lucia is older, it has definitely become easier to find some “me” time.
5 Self-Care Tips For New Mothers
Here are 5 ways I have remained (somewhat) sane:
1. Awake Half-Hour Early And Meditate
I wake up half an hour before Lucia does so I can have coffee in peace and meditate. (You would think I would then go to bed half an hour earlier, but I do not. Progress, not perfection, people).
I need half an hour because I spend at least five minutes in bed debating whether this whole “meditation” thing really helps me.
Then I replay the tape of what happens when I do not meditate — everything from checking my phone too much to attempting to control the speed at which my husband makes french toast.
It is not good. I need to meditate. I could not do this as easily when Lucia was younger because she a was a terrible sleeper, and thus I was, so meditation equaled sleep.
Now, this half an hour in the morning is a gift I offer myself each day.
2. Plan Life And Parenting With Your Husband
My husband and I plan two meetings a week where we sit and talk about important stuff.
I know this sounds really annoying and healthy, but it has really helped us stay on the same page regarding raising our daughter, and all the other adult-y things that come up.
In this way, I really feel that I have an ally when Lucia is freaking out over her granola touching her yogurt, because we have already discussed how we can approach this together.
I did not know parenting would be so much about the drama of two different foods touching other.
3. Get Some Space For Yourself
I let Lucia watch 22 minutes of “TV” almost every day. (I put TV in quotes, because she actually watches a show on my laptop. I have not turned on an actual TV in over a decade and am not sure how it is done in this century really).
I have read all the articles about how watching shows is terrible for kids, but I’ve decided that since the show, “Stella and Sam,” is about a really cute brother and sister duo who do imaginative things outside, the articles don’t count.
Also, since my husband works a lot of the evenings, I have to cook dinner, and by 6 pm, my brain needs some space. So, I cook somewhat in peace, while Lucia giggles along with the siblings who have turned their backyard into Africa. She also gets a cultural experience!
4. Take A Break For Creativity
We have a babysitter for a couple of hours on Saturday. This allows my husband and me some creative time.
I had a lot of guilt over this in the beginning and had to write out the number of hours I spend in the week with Lucia so I could see for myself that still, most of my free time is spent with her.
I am a naturally creative person. If I am not creating something, I feel empty, and I am not my best self.
I started taking a watercolor class on Saturdays, and I am a better mother because of it. I come home from class feeling lighter, and inspired.
And one day, I will be able to show Lucia some cool watercolor tricks.