When my first daughter was born, it was the start of spring. The days were getting longer and because I had a relatively easy childbirth, I spent many days taking long walks with the stroller. I loved spending my days off work enjoying the sunshine and taking care of my baby. But I also missed out on some friend-related things and events, partly because I was so afraid to let my baby out of my sight. Now looking back, there are things I wish I would’ve done when life was much simpler than I first thought. Who knew that having a new baby at home was the easy part?
When you are home with a baby, generally, the focus is not on yourself. During my time as a new mother, I couldn’t fathom leaving my baby for even a few hours, and definitely not for any type of self-care. The truth is, during both of my maternity leaves, I ran myself down by trying to do too much for everyone else, and not enough for myself. If I only knew then that my baby wouldn’t even remember me taking a few hours for some much needed pampering. While the time with a baby goes quickly, it’s a lot easier to enjoy it if you are feeling healthy and happy and can be present for all of those special moments.
Make time to connect with friends.
Again, spending time with friends takes a backseat when you have a baby at home. While I did spend time with other new moms, many of my friends without new babies got left behind. Connecting with your friends is so important to nurture the relationship and let those people know that you are still their friend, even though your life has changed. I let some friendships slide by not taking the time to listen or connect as I had before. If I could do it again, I would make as much time for friends as being a new mom would allow.
Capture photos of myself, not just my baby.
Who knew that I would want to look back at photos of my post-partum self? At the time, I shied away from cameras, feeling awful about my body. So I have lots of photos of my husband and baby and hardly any of us as a new family. Sadly, I realize now that my younger self still looked pretty cute, and I regret not sucking up my pride and being in more photos.
Take a romantic weekend.
Ask any new mom, and they will tell you that a romantic weekend is not high on their priority list. However, it is so easy to become distant from your spouse, and lack of sleep and new parenting challenges contribute to that. Taking time for each other, and even just hiring a babysitter for a few hours, can help you to get perspective, and remember your relationship. Your baby will survive and even thrive, with two healthy loving parents that take some time for each other once in awhile.
Take advantage of offers of help.
I found that I lost myself a little bit after weeks and weeks of sitting on the sofa nursing my baby. Going out was an effort, but when I did, I felt great. The time passes so quickly and yet, sometimes it feels like you can feel each minute slowly ticking. When I look back, it wasn’t as hard as I felt it was, and many feelings of angst could have been overcome with just a good night’s sleep. I had friends and family offer to help, but I felt too much pride to take them up on it. If I had done so, those extra naps might have made my experience just a little easier.
Life is very different after having a baby, but you are still the same person inside. As they get older and new challenges present themselves, you will wonder why managing babyhood seemed so difficult. Take advantage of the time you have, as children, activities and life ahead will become more hectic with every passing year.
This article originally appeared on The Baby Post.