Welcoming a new baby is such a special and memorable time for families. When you finally have that little bundle of joy in your arms after months of anticipation, it feels like your heart could explode with love. You may have been expecting the heart explosion but what about the million little things racing through your mind? From the second our babies are born, it is natural for mothers to spend countless hours thinking about how to provide all the best for them. Whether it is which diapers to use or how often baby needs a bath, there is just so much to consider. But what about taking care of mom? In today’s fast-paced world it is increasingly difficult for mothers to find the time, energy and mental space to just be. Between taking care of babies, a household and often times a career, there is so much for the modern mother to juggle.
With the birth of my third baby, I knew that I would need to find some ways to incorporate time for myself in my new routine. But being a stay-at-home-mama of three, this proved to be no easy feat. I had a teenager, toddler and newborn with very different sets of needs. I knew that the only way to pour into them would be to ensure that my own cup was full. So I found myself hyperaware of my need to recharge which prevented me from being fully present. I realized that while I was worried about when I would be able to snag my next break, I was missing out on the many small memories being made each day. I was there physically but I was not mentally present. I wanted to find a way to enjoy all the little moments with my new baby each day but still honor my need to slow down. Here are four aspects of my day that I used to be emotionally present for baby and revitalize my state of mind.
Skin to Skin
I spent most of the first few weeks enjoying as much time skin-to-skin with my newborn as I possibly could. There are many known benefits of kangaroo care for baby but I wanted to take full advantage of the benefits for mama too. Having my baby close was an instant source of relaxation. In those moments I knew that my baby was safe, warm and exactly where he wanted to be. Skin-to-skin created opportunities for me to focus on bonding with my new baby which was a bit challenging with two other children. With baby snuggled on my chest I was able to pause everything around me and just be in the moment.
As much as we may want to, it’s not practical to spend the entire day skin-to-skin. When mama duties call, baby wearing allows me to power through the daily routine while keeping baby close. I like to dress baby in something cozy like our Cat & Dogma Moon + Natural Footie and secure him to my body with a wrap. We love the softness of the 100% organic cotton and the breathability of the footie that keeps both Mama and infant from getting too hot while babywearing. The footie is well fitted but also roomy enough for comfortable wear over baby’s cloth diapers. Our favorite thing about the footie is the mindful mission that fuels the brand. Knowing that the garment was sustainably and ethically made reminds me to be mindful of the things that matter. So when baby is cozied up in the wrap while I tend to daily tasks, I am conscious of the big impact that the little things make.
No matter how the day is progressing, the one constant is that I need to nurse the baby. Of course, breastfeeding provides various physiological benefits to both mom and child. But in my efforts to be more mindful I have grown to thoroughly appreciate these breaks in the day. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the feedings particularly when nursing on demand but I chose to look at each session as a pause. Each feeding is a reminder to slow down and take it all in. It’s a chance to take in the fact that my body is strong and sustaining life and the fact that these moments will not last forever.
One of the best ways for me to focus on physical being and mental awareness has been through practicing yoga. The breathing, poses, and mindfulness integral to the practice encourage relaxation while reducing stress. Instead of stressing about when I will have time for yoga, I take advantage of baby’s relatively low maintenance state and make it work. At three months old, he still sleeps a lot and my toddler can self-entertain for reasonable stretches of time. So even if it is just for 10 or 15 minutes, I find time to disconnect from all the planning and executing that is mothering. There are no thoughts about dinner or laundry or expenses. I give the toddler a puzzle, put the baby on a blanket next to my yoga mat and enjoy 15 minutes of meditation and physical stimulation. For 15 minutes I am reminded that the need to find time for myself does not have to overshadow the beautiful memories that are being created every minute but rather it can be a part of them.
The modern mama carries more responsibilities than ever. In an effort to stay afloat, it is easy to get caught up in a routine that focuses on survival and overlooks moments. While there is no substitute for self-care, finding ways to be fully present throughout each day is heartwarming. Making a conscious effort to just be exactly where I am, doing whatever I am doing has caused me to remember why I had my babies in the first place. The time will pass no matter how I spend it so what do I want to remember? These simple ways of incorporating mindfulness into my routine are helping me seal a little more of each day into my memory, into my heart.