As new moms, we often hear about “mommy juice” or are gifted bottles of wine from well-wishers joking about how, now that we’ve spent nine months not drinking, we better get back to it. But wine (or whatever your alcoholic drink of choice) may not be the best form of self-care for new moms, since drinking has been shown to make anxiety worse and impact the quality of your sleep. And if there is one thing new parents don’t need is more anxiety and less sleep!
Instead, it’s important to take time to take care of yourself—whether you have just five minutes, 15, or a whole half hour—and nourish your body and mind. Even with limited time, new moms need me-time. Because looking after yourself is part of looking after your family.
On that note, below are some ideas on how to incorporate self-care into your day, no matter how much time you have.
If you’ve got 5 minutes…
1. Make a cup of herbal tea
New mamas don’t often have a lot of time to take care of themselves, which is why making a simple cup of herbal tea is a favorite when you are short on time. The ritual can be simple; you put on a pot of water, you pull out your favorite bag of calming herbal tea, and you steep it for four minutes. If you are short on time, you can even just microwave a mug of water and add a couple ice cubes after steeping to cool it down to a drinkable level. Then, sip and enjoy.
2. Do a 4-7-8 breathing exercise
Relaxing can be really difficult when you are a new mom and stressed about all things baby. But it’s also more important than ever since breathwork has a lot of benefits, which is why you should try a 4-7-8 breathing exercise when you have just five minutes to spare. You can google specifics or even watch a video on how to practice this breathing technique but the basics are very simple: breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for seven, and breathe out for eight. That’s it! Easy.
3. Write in a one-line-a-day journal
If you want to remember all of the joys (and hardships) of new parenting, but find yourself with a distinct lack of time for recording memories, try spending your five minutes on a one-line-a-day journal. Not only will this provide you with memories to look back on years from now but journaling has also been proven to be good for your mental health, since it can help manage anxiety, reduce stress, and help you cope with depression.
If you’ve got 15 minutes…
4. Do a quick yoga routine
Many of us assume that doing yoga takes a lot of time. Remembering all of those hour-and-a-half intensive yoga classes you were able to take way back when may put you off of trying yoga postpartum, but you don’t need to do a lengthy routine in order to get the benefits of a yoga practice. When you have 15 minutes of spare time, practice just a few yoga poses that help you stretch, relax, or improve your energy and mood.
5. Call a friend just to check in
As new parents, we can often forget that there’s a world outside of the amazing babies we have. But true self-care means taking care of not just our physical or mental needs but also our social needs. So when you have 15 minutes to spare, call that friend you haven’t talked to in a while. If they don’t pick up (hey, they might be busy too!), that’s okay. Call the next friend on your list. Even if you end up catching up for only a few minutes, it may just be the few minutes you needed to nourish yourself that day.
6. Play with some beauty products
Sometimes, we just need to be a little bit silly with our self-care. For a long time, self-care has been associated with bubble baths and beauty products. Now we recognize that we need more than that to take care of ourselves. However, there is still room in our lives for baths and beauty. Whatever your favorite beauty product is, take 15 minutes to indulge. Whether that’s a face mask, a carefully applied cat eye, or a bright red lip, playing with products might just help you begin to feel like your old self again.
If you’ve got 30 minutes…
7. Listen to a podcast episode
If you have a whole half an hour, then you have enough time to listen to an episode of your favorite podcast that you haven’t had time for ever since becoming a new parent. There are no rules here: it could be a soothing podcast, one that covers the latest news, something dedicated to self-care, or anything else that you fancy. The point is to just relax, lay in your favorite spot on the couch, and just listen in peace.
8. Get a little bit creative
Whenever you have a nice chunk of time, such as 30 minutes, why not let your creativity thrive? This might look like putting together a photo album to share with distant family and friends, doodling (which can relieve stress and help you focus), a little bit of painting, playing a musical instrument if you have one, or anything else that is creatively fulfilling. Even baking can be a great way to spend your half an hour of self-care.
9. Read a book that will make you feel good
Reading a book can be a great way to connect with yourself, but it can also be stressful if the type of book you’re reading is not exactly what you need in the morning. Sometimes, it feels like any “off time” should be spent reading parenting advice books or reading about what’s going on in the world. But you know what? Sometimes it’s okay to dig into a book that is just for pleasure. Maybe for you, that’s a cozy mystery. Maybe it’s a YA novel. Maybe it’s something else. Whatever it is, enjoy it guilt-free.
And the best self care of all…
10. Go to bed early
It’s difficult to get good sleep when you have a newborn but, eventually, your baby should settle into a better routine. If you’re really lucky, eventually your little one will be sleeping 10-12 hours a night. This is a great time to take advantage of your baby’s good sleep habits and take care of yourself by going to bed early.
In case you didn’t know, sleep is your superpower. Better sleep has more scientific benefits than we can really list here, so trust us on this one. If you can, go to bed early! You can scroll endlessly on your phone or binge-watch your favorite show another day. For now, focus on getting better sleep. It’s truly the best self-care you can give yourself as a new parent.