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Motherhood is no joke. Pregnancy is rough enough but as I have recently learned that having a baby is like, really really hard. Some women take to caring for an infant like a fish to water and have no problems transitioning to motherhood.
I am not one of those women.
It has been a struggle for me—I have postpartum depression—and I know I am not alone. Having a child dramatically changes your life, literally, overnight. Pregnant first-time mothers suspect this, but the reality is way more intense than anything you can imagine before your baby rolls up on the scene. It's a new normal but if you find yourself pining for your old life pre-baby, take comfort that there are some things you can do to make this transition easier.
Start taking a shower every day. You used to do this. If your partner isn't around, do it when your baby's napping and get used to the imaginary sound of a baby crying while the water is running. Your baby is not crying. Turn the water off. You'll see. He's still asleep. It's called Shower Schizophrenia. Don't worry about it.
If you used to wear make-up, start putting some on. You look terrible and it will make you feel better. Some people don't like to put on lipstick because they are kissing their baby so much. I spent most of my life with my mom's lipstick on my cheeks and it didn't hurt me. So if you miss it, put it on or get one of those color stay lipsticks, they really work.
Watch "Girls", and not "Sex in the City" if you're missing your single life. "Sex and the City" highlights the fun parts and everyone has money and is living it up. "Girls" has a certain veracity that can make you very glad you're settled into your home with your loving partner and beautiful baby. Who wants to deal with the hot mess most of our 20's (and 30's) were?
This is the worst one, even super hardass Jillian Michaels couldn't make it to the gym after adopting a kid.
Get a babysitter and go out with your husband. If you cannot afford a sitter, see if you have a mommy friend you trust who is willing to watch your baby one night and you can watch hers the next time. You might think your husband's an idiot most days,but a couple of drinks on a date night can remind you why procreated with him in the first place. If the date goes well, use protection unless you want to go through newborn torture all over again.
Go back to work. If you can (and want to,) and it's an option for your family, it's OK to realize you're not SAHM material. For many women getting back to work actually feels pretty darn good. You miss your baby but it's great when you get home see his sweet little face and you get a break from changing diapers and getting spit up on.
Make time for exercise. This is the worst one, even super hardass Jillian Michaels couldn't make it to the gym after adopting a kid. But finding just a little bit of time to work out, even if it's nowhere near your old regime, will put a little pep in your step. Who knows? Maybe one day you can get out of those maternity yoga pants, but don't feel obligated, they're so comfy.
Meet your single girlfriends for a drink. Get out there and have a drink (or three but no more than that, you don't want a hangover!) with your girls. They've missed you. Only talk about your baby for five minutes then grab their phone and pick guys for them to go out with from Tinder. It's hilarious. Trust me.
However, you existed before you had your child and you don't have to let that woman just be a story from the past.
Get your hair and nails did. Seriously, do you really want to be that rough looking mom? You don't have to be movie set ready every time you leave the house but you wear your hair and nails every day. A gel manicure and some highlights can make you look and feel polished, even in your yoga pants and spit-up stained shirt.
Whenever you're in the car alone, blast your favorite music. Borrow some old school hip hop CDs (or whatever used to get your motor running) next time you're at the library for storytime. Bump it and sing along. My personal favorite is "Ready to Die" by the Notorious B.I.G., unedited.
Take your baby to places you used to go. When babies are immobile is the time to hit up some of your favorite eateries. They usually sleep in their carseat under the table while you mow down some sushi. Take advantage of this time. We've all seen that wild child freaking out at restaurants. That's the future, don't worry about it for now.
Remember that you're still you, you're just you with a baby.
The concept of taking care of ourselves as women and mothers is not something that is openly embraced in our culture. No one is writing articles for men about how to take care of themselves after having a baby. They don't need to be reminded to shower and eat and comb their hair. No one is telling them they need to put themselves on the back burner while they raise their children. No one is questioning them about if they will be going back to work after the baby is born.
Mothers are constantly told we are not doing enough, that we are failing somehow if everything isn't perfect. Every choice we make is questioned. We are are striving for some unattainable standard of motherhood that doesn't exist.
However, you existed before you had your child and you don't have to let that woman just be a story from the past. Especially if you were really fun pre-baby. There is no denying that life after baby is radically different and things will never be the same, but you don't have to give up everything from your old life either.
Balance is something with which modern mothers must constantly struggle. I think children benefit from having a mother that is fun, happy and fulfilled by things other than family life. So scroll through those old pictures on Facebook for a reminder of who you were before and know that you don't have to sacrifice everything to be a wonderful mother.