The Importance of Self-Care as a New Mama

This past weekend I was spoiled to get to see both of my closest friends. In addition to spending time with Eloise, I also was sure to enlist sitters so that I could get some grown-up time. Friends are definitely a huge part of my self-care.
This past weekend I was spoiled to get to see both of my closest friends. In addition to spending time with Eloise, I also was sure to enlist sitters so that I could get some grown-up time. Seeing friends is definitely a huge component of my self-care.

This past weekend some of our dearest friends came to visit, including a couple who moved down to Southern California just before Eloise was born. With no kids yet themselves, they had plenty of questions about new parenthood and somehow I found myself describing how important my coconut-milk shampoo has become to me. Sounds absurd, I know.

However, when your life revolves around someone who is almost six months old, every little moment on your own takes on new meaning. Where before I could care less about how my shampoo smelled, now taking a shower without worrying about whether she is crying is a luxury and washing my hair is a sensory experience. Suddenly, the littlest things feel like pampering, including the smell of my shampoo and the feel of hot water.

Coincidentally, another friend featured a post about self-care on her blog today with the invitation to write about pampering in exchange for a sweepstakes entry. This got me thinking about how self-care has transformed to include the smallest acts in these early months of motherhood. Now, a cup of fragrant tea is a moment I have to carve out for myself when there is no need to have my sweet girl in my arms. Likewise, sitting here and typing on my blog is another expression of self-care that felt like normal, everyday life before Eloise arrived.

I wouldn't give up mommyhood for anything but I am also grateful for my renewed appreciation for all the little moments that belong to just me.
I wouldn’t give up mommyhood for anything but I am also grateful for my renewed appreciation for all the little moments that belong to just me.

Maybe that’s part of the beauty of becoming a parent. Where before I would get home from work and lament having only five or so hours to myself, now I am lucky to get a half hour that is entirely my own and often that half hour is filled with activities I used to take for granted as basic to my survival, like eating and personal hygiene. Accordingly, I try to treat myself with foods I look forward to eating and self-care products I enjoy using, like a scrubby face wash or a water bottle with a cool design.

In other words, being a new mom has given me a deeper appreciation for the littlest things in life, the very same things I never used to give a second thought. Of course, I try to also take care of myself in bigger ways, like arranging for family to watch Eloise while I go to yoga classes and asking for massage gift certificates for my birthday. It is amazing how just a couple massage sessions with our doula have reminded me to be aware of my body again. I also recently bought myself an essential oil diffuser after realizing how much scent can affect my mood.

Motherhood is so much about giving that sometimes we forget to give to ourselves. The weeks that have gone by where I have not been intentional about making time for myself have been the hardest. However, when I remember to take care of me too, staying at home with my girl feels like the best decision I have ever made and I am a much better, more present mother for it.

How do you take care of yourself? I’d love to hear– I know I could still use a few more ideas. And, you should also head over to Ashley’s blog and check out her sweepstakes, I made sure to enter by writing this post! 

6 thoughts on “The Importance of Self-Care as a New Mama

  1. Yesss coconut shampoo! Haha I love that tidbit. We treasured seeing you two and finally meeting Eloise!! I love those photos, such a happy trip :).

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  2. Ever since I became a parent, this has been one of the cornerstone pieces of advice I have for new parents, particularly the mothers-to-be. The best way to be the best parent you can be is to be sure you also take care of yourself. Even if, as you say, it’s the little things. Unfortunately, it is the moms who tend not to do this — they get so wrapped up in caring for the little one, they forget about themselves and, frequently they forget about their husbands, too. So, that’s my other cornerstone piece of advice — make sure you take care of your marriage, too.

    As for what I did and do. I’ve always made sure that there was something I had that was mind. For awhile it was golf, then it was writing, or trying to learn how to play classical guitar, then running. I think that’s the key, you have your child, you have your marriage, you have your family, but you still have a right to you. Some piece of your day or week that is for you and only you and you get to define how and what you do with that time. Even if, in this moment, it’s something as simply as luxuriating in the smell of your shampoo — that, right there, is a pretty incredible way to nurture yourself.

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    1. Well said. It’s interesting to read, too, how your “hobbies” changed over the years. I can definitely feel the difference between giving up all of myself and maintaining something for me. It is like night and day. Thank you for the continual reminders not to lose myself completely in motherhood. And, you make an all-too-often-overlooked point about marriage. I already feel like it is so easy to put E first, then my hobbies, then time with my husband. The moment I recognized this, I decided it was crucial to switch things around. Now, I try to squeeze the me stuff into the hours when he is at work or preoccupied with something else. We actually managed to have our first solo date this week, it was pretty great and something I eventually plan to write about, so thank you for reinforcing its importance.

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  3. I loved hearing more about your self care! I, too, have recently realized, during a busier than usual season, how much I am drawn to scent! I am a big fan of coconut shampoo and recently purchased some lavender spray to put on my pillow at night (inspired by being sprayed with lavender during a yoga class I used to take during the end relaxation time). I am curious to know what diffuser you purchased. Those essential oils are all the rage but I have not gotten on the bandwagon yet. Reading your post reminded me of the importance of scents…perhaps leaning me towards trying a diffuser out!

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    1. I got interested in essential oils from a yoga class too– I’ve always loved the lavender spray, but this time the instructor handed out little cotton pads with mint oil and I was in heaven. Decided I needed a diffuser for home. So far so good, I just picked a $30 one off of Amazon that had good reviews, if you’re interested, PM me and I’ll dig up the link. I don’t know if I bought the best oils for it, though, so still learning– as well as remembering to read what each oil is good for as the first one I put in turned out to be “overstimulating for infants” when I read about it later, oops!

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