Bye bye yoga pants!
As I scrolled through my sweet boy’s first birthday photos, I sat there staring in disbelief. I racked my brain trying to recall the last 12 months, and I couldn’t. I missed it. I was there for what seemed like every big moment, but somehow I wasn’t there mentally. A sick feeling came over me as the reality hit me that I took my baby’s first year for granted, something I’ll never get back.
This led me to do a little soul searching to evaluate how I got into this position. I realized that I never crawled out of my new mom cocoon, and instead perpetually curled away further towards the darkness. My house was a literal mess, my diet consisted of graham crackers and goldfish, and my brain was constantly foggy. Overall, I just felt blue.
I knew my life needed some revision. Not just for my own sake, but for my baby’s. But huge overhauls and life changes were overwhelming. I didn’t know where to start. I knew that I needed some feasible and practical small ways to make changes in my life. I needed to restore my mind, restore my heart, and learn to be present in the moment.
Slowly, these tangible minor changes helped bring some life back:
1. Self Care
I’ve read lots of blogs and articles on self care and how important it is for moms, but I honestly dismissed them thinking, “I barely get my baby’s bath in for the day … there’s no way I’m able to make time for a bubble bath for myself.” Yet recently, the topic has been plaguing me, and I discovered that for me it really doesn’t have to be something big or drastic. For example, I’ve never been a girl to style my hair, but before I became a mom I wore makeup everyday. Long after my baby became more self-reliant, I still found myself going to work without makeup on. I realized, though, that when I put on even a little bit of mascara, I felt better. So I’ve decided to “waste” the makeup and wear the foundation or eye shadow because that helps me feel like I’m taking care of myself a little bit more.
2. Get Outside!
I know this is going to get harder with the summer months approaching, but it also forces me to be more intentional about it. I have to plan to do it first thing in the morning or go for a stroll after dinner. We don’t go far; I’m not trying to train for a marathon. I started simply by just going around the block, just to get my blood moving and get some sunshine. It’s amazing what a quick walk can do to clear the mind and boost the attitude. Now that we’ve been doing it more frequently, we naturally have started going for longer walks, which I hope eventually lead up to an actual run or work out. Baby steps.
I turn off the TV. Even if it’s just on for “background noise.” This can be a challenge when there’s multiple people in the household, but I like to put uplifting music on instead. Next, I turn off my phone. I shoot hubby a text and let him know I’m going off the grid for a while and I just turn it off. I have started doing this twice a day now. Once during the day when I’m playing with my son to really focus on him and catch an extra snuggle before nap. Second, before bed. I used to lie in bed for probably an hour just scrolling endlessly on social media. I decided instead to turn off the phone and read a book. I’ll often journal a short snippet to help me reflect on the day and encourage the more “present” mindset I’m seeking. Plus, a lot of new research indicates that blue light can affect your sleep. My goal is to eventually remove my phone from the bedroom completely and rely on a good ol’ fashioned alarm clock!
4. Do Something Productive
This varies each day, and doesn’t include keeping a tiny human alive–that’s a given. This is something specific and intentional, but I like to keep it small and attainable. For example, folding and putting away all the baby’s clothes, or doing a small piece of artwork during nap time. I choose something that has a clear and evident end product, which usually motivates me to continue other small projects or chores around the house.
5. Sit and Eat
Some of my favorite points in Baby-Led Weaning are to feed your baby what you’re eating and to eat with them. Yet, too often I found it easier to do dishes or clean bottles while baby was entertained and eating. This led to me consuming empty calories, if any calories at all. I now make it a point to sit and eat with my son. I have always made sure my baby eats healthy, well-balanced meals and it’s time I start eating the same way.
6. Real Clothes
Here it comes, the yoga pants breakup. This realization came to me when I went to slip into my favorite pair of yoga pants. They’re simple, Wal-Mart brand, soft and black. They didn’t fit. My best friend, so called “yoga pants” betrayed me and didn’t fit my baby-birthing hips. I stepped on the scale in disbelief and there it was. The same weight I was weeks after giving birth. One year later. Ouch. The very things that should have motivated me to work out and eat a salad only deceived me into believing that I was just fine the way I was.
Little did I know that yoga pants and baggy shirts became my wardrobe after baby and then never changed. I’d go to bed in comfy clothes and some days wear them all day (gross I know.) I even got a part-time job at a gym where I got to wear so-called-black-yoga-pants to work! I was livin’ the dream … or so I thought.
Don’t get me wrong, I know many women who feel empowered and motivated (as I once did) in a good pair of yoga pants. But, I had let them become my crutch and my vice. I wasn’t motivated to do much of anything and they really fed my laziness. So I’m making the breakup. No more yoga pants. That also means no more leggings, unless I’m working out. I will put on jeans and a shirt, everyday. T-shirt is fine, but real pants are a must. Doing so has already helped me keep my motivation and productivity during the day. It encourages me to get out of the house and go on adventures, even if only to the library!
Motherhood is a journey and we have to be careful not to lose ourselves in the process. We need to discover how our identity is shaped through the lenses of motherhood. It’s so easy to get caught up in taking care of someone else, and we often begin to suffer ourselves. It takes intentional steps and small sacrifices to maintain the integrity of our well being. Even little changes can make big differences in our mental and emotional health, and we all know we need both to be really great moms.