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Tried And Tested Self-Care Tips For New Moms At The End Of Their Rope

Taking care of a baby can be exhausting. Don't forget to take care of you too.
Trey Anthony and son, Kai
Trey Anthony and son, Kai

I’ve been a mom for just over a year now, but I still have this irrational fear that someone, somewhere will figure out I don’t have all my shit together. I worry that maybe they’ll think my kid needs a more competent mom.

This mom would give him food made from scratch instead of from jars. She would never let him eat a Cheerio off the floor. (GUILTY!) And she would baby-wear him until he gets to high school, instead of getting him the first available spot in daycare, so she could pay all her bills, meet her writing deadlines and still have a career.

I sometimes find myself scrolling, comparing myself to all the Instagram influencer moms who sip hot cocoa by the fire while wearing matching pyjamas with their significant other and well-behaved kids. Meanwhile I struggle each morning to find my kid a matching pair of socks.

Becoming a new mom in the middle of a pandemic ― and a working, solo mom at that ― can sometimes keep me up at night with worries. I’ve been trying some new things to ease the angst.

“Those seven seconds will give you the ammunition you need to keep getting up every day and doing this motherhood thang over and over again.”

It’s all part of trying to not be so hard on myself, because if there is one thing I have learnt about motherhood this past year, it’s that moms are not kidding around when they say it is the hardest job out there. And ― yes ― that statement is often followed by, “But it’s also the most rewarding!” But I’m going to be brutally honest with you ― the rewards they preach about are few and far between some days.

There will be times when you will curse aloud, as you wonder why the hell you willingly signed up for this. “Where the f&ck is the rewarding part?,” you’ll ask yourself, in the midst of changing diapers, rummaging through mountains of laundry and getting up for late-night feeds.

And just when you have made up your mind that your best bet is to drop off the kid with their grandma, and secretly catch a flight to some faraway island, it will be at that very moment your child will grab your face with their chubby, grimy hands and plant a sloppy, wet one on you. They will look deep into your eyes as if you’re the prettiest woman they’ve ever seen, and they will turn your heart to mush with their gummy smile.

Then, for a good seven seconds, you will feel invincible and overwhelmed with gratitude that this precious little being came into your life. And those seven seconds will give you the ammunition you need to keep getting up every day and doing this motherhood thang over and over again.

But for all those other ungodly moments, here are some tips for all the new moms out there, based on what helped me get through the first frenetic year of motherhood. (Story continues below)

Move your body

I’ve never been one of those gym rats, but I do care about making time to move. You can incorporate exercise on the sly by popping that baby into a stroller and taking a walk, with you listening to your favourite podcast while Baby is watching all the outdoor-world activity from his stroller.

When I drop my kid at daycare, I keep my car parked outside then run for 30 or 60 minutes. After running each morning, I feel accomplished. Also proud I took some time for myself to do something that will make me a healthier person, hence a better mom.

Write your own affirmations

When I’m feeling stressed ― or when I have a spare moment ― I repeat to myself: “Trey, you are doing the best that you can” or “Trey, your son is healthy and happy.”

Saying these simple affirmations calms me down and allows me to not be so hard on myself.

Do your hair

Okay, salons may be closed in many parts right now, but you can still set aside time, say once a week, for a DIY at-home treatment. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut of just being “Mommy,” and we forget our sexy.

I recently dyed my hair bright red. I immediately felt bolder and more beautiful. People have been flirting with me non-stop, and that’s a big morale booster.

Meditate ... even just a little bit

Who’s got time for that? I promise you, everyone can find an extra 10 minutes in their day, if they commit to making meditation a habit. I try to wake up a few minutes before the kid, and I do a 10-minute simple breathing meditation that I found on YouTube. It’s a game-changer.

The days I meditate I’m much more present with my child. I’m more focused and I’m able to deal more effectively with simple daily stressors.

This works. So does lying on the sofa for five, while baby naps, with a guided meditation playing on your phone.
This works. So does lying on the sofa for five, while baby naps, with a guided meditation playing on your phone.

Get some physical touch (even if it’s DIY!)

Touch is something that’s lacking for many of us right now ― especially the solo parents out there. A great massage can help with stress and the physical pain that comes from picking up and putting down a little one all day long. Check with your insurance, it may be covered. (Also wear your mask!)

If it’s not in the budget, do something as simple as soaking your feet or taking some time when the little one is sleeping to have a relaxing bath. Afterwards, apply massage oil all over your body, before heading to bed. Lavender oil is amazing to help you fall asleep faster.

Self-Care Gifts

Make time for girlfriends

Being in a pandemic has made it hard to see friends, and we new moms need connection. Try and text, call or videochat one friend per day ― the type of friend you can have a complete meltdown with. It helps to chat with another mom who has been there and done that or who has a child the same age as yours.

I recently called a friend to rant about my bad day, and she was able to put it in perspective and share all the antics her child was getting into. Once we’d compared notes, I could see my child wasn’t that “bad” after all. LOL! Sometimes we need that pep talk. And we of course need the support. Go on, call your BFF!

Trey Anthony’s new book, Black Girl In Love With Herself, is a deeply personal reflection on her journey. In it she tweaks ― make that reinvents ― the self-care message to work for a Black woman like herself. Buy it here.

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