by Colleen Davis
Source: Island Parent Magazine
Originally Published: May 2017
As a new parent, finding you-time is a bit like playing Tetris. Between baby’s meals, your own meals, naps, diaper changes, crying spells and keeping house, the notion of self-care seems like it won’t fit. But as the weeks go by, you start to spot little (minuscule!) moments in your day where you could be doing something for the sole purpose of pleasing yourself.
At the dawn of 2017 I started sharing on Facebook the titles and my ratings of the books I’ve recently read. I’m currently averaging one book per five days. People keep asking me how the heck I have time to myself with an active toddler tearing the joint apart. Well, simply put, I make me-time a priority (and chores less of one).
I’ve found a self-care system that works well for me based on my hobbies. Carving out portions of my day to focus on myself has improved my mood, my well-being and, funnily enough, my ability to give my daughter my undivided attention.
Here are a few things that work for me. Hopefully you can find a tidbit or two that will fit nicely into your lifestyle.
If you’re a bookworm, get an e-reader. Seriously. My newborn daughter took three- to four-hour naps in my arms for weeks on end. I was literally nap-trapped. (I watched all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls in less than a month. Yikes.) I soon learned that turning a book page without disturbing my sweet sleeping baby was like doing yoga in a body cast. After a frantic request, my husband brought home a (waterproof!) Kobo. All I have to do to “turn” a page is extend my free thumb.
Once you’ve invested in the device, get a library card if you don’t already have one. Our local libraries have countless titles in e-book format that you can check-out and renew just like regular books. Unfortunately e-readers do not come in old-book-smell yet. My email to the Kobo people is in progress.
Take the edge off chores. We all do it—housework when the baby’s asleep. Boo, hiss. If you’re past the sleep-when-the-baby-sleeps phase, you can easily make chores fun by popping in some earbuds. Once a week I load up my iPod with a handful of my favourite podcasts so that I can listen to something funny or interesting while I do the dishes, fold laundry or make supper. Suddenly, I’ve crossed everything off my to-do list and I barely felt it.
If you’re not the podcast type, audio books are a great alternative. You have to pay a bit more attention to audio books than podcasts so they’re better for when you’re doing a mindless task. Like e-books, audio books can be borrowed from your local library.
Double-up on the fun. Can’t choose between two (or three!) you-time go-to’s? You may not have to. If walking is part of your self-care routine, both podcasts and audio books are fantastic choices for a long walk with baby. (Be careful to move your earbud cord well out of the way if you are carrying your little one.) Are you a gym junkie? On cardio days both podcasts and audio books are a great alternative to your workout playlist. Stick with the tunes if you need to count reps.
Two of my self-care methods are colouring and knitting. A new package of fine-tipped felt pens easily makes me swoon. I’m like a cat in a yarn store over a new skein of wool. Obviously I can’t colour and knit at the same time (I don’t think), but—and you may be sensing a pattern here—this is the perfect time to listen to a podcast. If you’re working on a complex knitting/sewing/crochet pattern, save the book for a bubble bath.
You may not have the same interests as I do but my point is this: you can find ways to maximize your free time, no matter what you like to do. Heck, you can even turn chores into you-time. Witchcraft!
New parenthood is hard. Really hard. (And truly amazing.) It’s the little moments of peace we create for ourselves that keep us sane. Whatever makes your heart full, or sparks your imagination, or inspires you to create—that’s also your baby. Both need your attention.
Colleen is a newly appointed stay-at-home-mom from Victoria. She is a voracious reader and single-handedly keeps the breakfast cereal industry afloat.
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