Self care looks very different with a baby. Self care used to be painting my nails, or cleaning the house (not fun, but necessary for my ability to function well), or an hour-long phone call with a writer-friend, or taking a day to sleep in and read a book cover to cover.
See where I’m going with this?
None of these are remotely feasible anymore. Like my writing process, my self-care is changing:
- Any day I let myself take the time to use shampoo and conditioner, rather than my husband’s 2-in-1 is a good day. I did that this morning and the little one was screaming when I got out. But I took a breath, grabbed an extra towel for my suddenly leaky boobs, and let my husband handle it. (Which he did beautifully. It was an ego boost for him, a needed break for me, and some solid daddy-time for a daddy’s girl – an all around win!)
- Cleaning? Um. I’ve been watching cobwebs grow and learning to be ok with it. The baby in my arms is so much more important than dusting.
- I try to keep the house stocked with fruits and vegetables – preferably those I can eat with one hand with little to no prep time (or prepped in advance, when the rare opportunity presents itself) – to balance out the quick-shove-something-in-you-mouth-and-get-back-to-the-screaming-baby convenience food. My body thanks me and the baby thanks me. Or will when she’s older. Maybe.
- I give myself permission to be in sweats or pajamas all day every day.
- But make sure they’re clean.
- And exchange them for actual clothes if I have to leave the house. This helps me feel like a more functional, if less comfortable, member of society. But I discovered an added benefit the other day when I made the dubious decision to wear a flannel shirt (that usually never leaves the house) grocery shopping. I nearly walked out the door without buttoning it.
- Self care means bringing my laptop to bed and causing myself muscle spasms from awkwardly typing one-handed while rocking the baby and hoping the light from the screen won’t wake her.
- And sometimes self care is letting her scream another couple minutes so I can pee and fill my water bottle and grab a snack and make sure my notebook and computer are in arms’ reach for the next endurance stretch.
Through it all: baby snuggles. Which are quite possible the best things ever.