4 minute read
Self-care for new parents
- Keep nutritious, easy-to-prepare foods at hand
- Focus on regular movement rather than vigorous exercise
- Rest whenever you can and establish a wind down routine
With a new baby at home, remembering to take care of yourself can often fall down the list of priorities. We get it. Here are the things you can do to make life at home a bit smoother during the first few months.
Eat as well as you can
Here are some ingredients to look out for, and simple ways to incorporate when you’re short on time or sleep, or working one-handed (or all three).
- Vegetables worked into pasta sauces, chopped into soups or tossed onto pita pizzas are easy shortcuts to get your five serves a day. Look for options that require less prep or effort, like pre-chopped or frozen veggies, and bags of washed salad mix.
- Fruit is important for everyone to eat, not just breastfeeding mothers. Punnets of berries, frozen fruit in the freezer for smoothies, or easy-snacking fruit in a bowl on the counter can be easy ways get in servings.
- Grains – including wholegrain pasta and couscous, brown rice and whole wheats – can easily be incorporated into pasta dishes, soups, curries, stir fries and salads.
- Protein can be incorporated into many meals by tearing the meat from a supermarket barbecue chicken to add to salads or sandwiches; keeping a bowl of hard-boiled eggs in the fridge to have with toast, salads or on their own; or batching up some dinners with lean meat, tinned legumes, chickpeas or lentils in a slow-cooker and freezing them for future you.
- Dairy or their alternatives can be easily in the included in your diet through adding it to your drinks. Yoghurt is perfect for a quick snack.
Sleep whenever possible
As well as sharing night shifts if you can and catching up on naps and sleep on the weekend, a technique that can help is to create your own night-time routine. It might involve:
- Avoiding drinks and snacks that are high in sugar and caffeine in the afternoon
- Avoiding screens for an hour before bed (the baby monitor doesn’t count)
- Writing down anything on your mind to prevent it from keeping you awake
- Winding down before sleep by meditating or doing breathing exercises
- Trying to go to bed at the same time each night
Focus on movement
Something that can be less demanding than exercise with a capital ‘E’ is to instead look for ways to add regular movement to your day, like:
- Walking with the pram to grab a few groceries
- Moving the laundry basket a few steps away from the clothesline, so hanging clothes out becomes like a mini-circuit
- Catching up with friends and other parents for walk and play in the park
- Doing at-home yoga or Pilates
Don’t forget to share
Whether it’s with your partner, another parent or close friend, opening up if you need extra help can lighten the load and some pressure off. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed sometimes, so being honest about your mood, what you need, whether you’re up for having visitors, and how you are coping is a great habit to get into early.