From wine-time to whine-time
When I had my first child last year, I was 35. Now that might sound a tad old (ahem), but an obstetrician told me that’s the average age of women who give birth at that particular hospital.
The fact is that more and more women are choosing to delay starting a family for a variety of reasons. Some want to see the world or pursue high-powered career goals that were the exclusive domain of men a few decades ago. Others simply don’t meet anyone they’d consider going out for coffee with – never mind having children with – until later in life.
Whatever the reason, many of these older first time mums get a serious wake up call when their little bundle of joy arrives. They think they’re ready for it because they’ve painted the nursery and mailed the baby shower thank you cards, but they’re so, so not ready.
Oh, how things change
After three or even four decades of complete freedom and self-indulgence in the form of music festivals, wine tours, expensive overseas holidays and trips to the spa, the sheer lack of me-time can come as a massive blow. You can’t even poop without being interrupted, so you can forget all that time you used to spend swanning around getting your eyelashes tinted.
Take this little before-and-after example from my personal life. I used to go to a salon to get my nails done every fortnight because they made me feel pretty. Now I bite my dry, ragged old nails and cuticles so they don’t catch on my jumper fluff. Sexy!
“I sincerely thought I would keep up the same beauty regimen, fitness routine and busy lifestyle I had before the baby,” says mother-of-one Jacinta, 37. “’The baby will fit into my life!’ I would tell my friends. Oh boy, was I wrong. Most days, I’m lucky if I have a shower before midday and manage to put on mascara before I leave the house.”
Now I don’t mean to paint a terrifying picture of motherhood because it also happens to be the best thing I’ve ever done in my life and it does get easier as your baby gets older. But if you don’t want to find yourself tearing through every day like a crazed, sleep-deprived, stressed lunatic, you still need to take some me-time.
In fact, it’s more important than ever, so you just have to be creative and appreciate those 45 seconds when you have them.
Making time for Mummy
Here are my top 10 tips to make sure you don’t lose yourself (and your sanity) in the first year of motherhood.
1. 10-minute time-out
Take 10 minutes in the middle of every day to sit and have a cup of tea, read a magazine or do something just for you. Yes, you. That person who pushed a watermelon out of her hooha … remember her? The laundry can wait – no, really. I failed to do this and I ended up running around like the aforementioned crazed, sleep-deprived, stressed lunatic. So do it, you hear me?
2. Nap when your baby naps
I followed this advice for the first two weeks, but then I stopped because I felt like I had too much to do. Hence, lunacy. Let me know how you go with this one because I’ll never have a second chance – I hear mothers-of-two never, ever sleep … ever.
3. Get pumping
If you’re breastfeeding, invest in a good-quality electric breast pump or hire a medical-grade one. I can’t tell you how much time and stress this will save you.
4. Freezer favourites save time
When your baby starts eating solids, cook big batches of food and freeze it rather than pulling out the food processor every night. As soon as bub is old enough to eat lumpier food, start making family meals. If your dinner is too spicy or salty, cook a small portion for your baby on the side with a milder seasoning. Do you eat dinner after your little one is in bed? No problem – just save their portion for the next day and freeze any extras for later in the week.
5. Shop for groceries online
We don’t do this very often because the big supermarket chains insist on delivering our order in 1,000 plastic bags and that just irks us (we do cloth nappies, so plastic bags are a big no-no for us). But when we’re just too busy we shop online. You’ll save time and prevent all the grey hairs caused by dealing with a screaming baby at the supermarket.
6. Get outside every day – even if it’s just for a 10-minute walk
When you’re sleep-deprived and suffocating under a pile of laundry the size of Everest, it’s easy to put leaving the house in the too hard basket. But you need fresh air and some sunlight if you don’t want to go cuckoo, so get out there for at least a few minutes a day.
7. Make yourself go out and see people
Being a mum can be a very lonely and isolating business, especially in the first few months when you’re a slave to your baby’s non-stop feeding and sleeping schedule. And because finding a window to meet people between the fourth sleep and 17th nappy change of the day can seem near impossible, you might be tempted to simply avoid social engagements. But, needless to say, that will just make you feel lonelier and more isolated. So slap on a coat of mascara and go catch up with a friend over coffee – you’ll marvel at how wonderful it is to feel human again.
8. Have a girls’ night out every once in a while
Your partner/mum/friend can handle it. Your baby will be just fine. Go out and let your hair down for a few hours!
9. BUT don’t put pressure on yourself to be exactly like you were before having a baby
While it’s good to get out of the house every so often, trying to keep up the same social and date night schedule you had before bub is likely to leave you feeling frazzled and exhausted. Give yourself time to adjust to your new reality and have faith in the fact that things will get easier and you’ll eventually feel like your old self again (minus the desire to stay out dancing till 3am).
10. Don’t stress about sex
Have you and your partner not exactly been swinging off the chandeliers four times a week like you used to? Yeah, join the club. I wrote a book about having a fantastic sex life for crying out loud, but as soon as I had the baby I found myself in the middle of the sexual Sahara Desert. Tumbleweed in the bedroom for months! But the good news is that it slowly started to come back when the veil of sleep deprivation and new-parent angst began to lift. So give yourselves a break – this too shall pass.
Find more My Spot Life articles:
- 7 tips for a happy marriage
- Fast life changes for instant happiness
- The ultimate working from home guide
- How to deal with cringe-worthy kid moments
- Get your kids to look after the pets
- 52 weeks of health and happiness
- 10 simple ways for mums to save time
- Debt-proof your relationship
- Stay-cation: how to holiday at home
This article was written by Sabrina Rogers-Anderson for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz