Self-care thoughts from a full-time working Mama
By: Amber Wright
My name is Amber Wright and I am a full-time working Mama of twin toddlers, who has a love affair with coffee, my husband, all things dairy, and red shoes, in that order. I can be found driving to work 9am to 5pm with wet hair Monday through Friday, raising twin toddlers from 5pm to 9am Monday through Friday, wandering the aisles of Publix and doing laundry on Saturday, and cooking while listening to disco on Sundays. Rinse and repeat, every week.
As a parent, you feel me, we all have our routines and we stick to them because at the end of each day, everyone is fed and bathed and cared for, so we rinse and repeat, but at the end of the week we have forgotten to fill our own cups and are left feeling drained. I wanted to share some ways I have found for taking better care of myself, in the midst of motherhood and working full-time. Here goes, how to take care of you in the midst of working 9 to 5 and 5 to 9.
Drinking in the shower
For Mamas, if you are breastfeeding, sweating a lot from your fluctuating hormones, not getting enough rest, or juggling two infants, as I was, you have to hydrate. According to Health magazine, the average person needs 2.2 liters a day, but factors like being overweight, living at a high altitude, working outside, or breastfeeding may increase your required water intake which is recommended at 100 ounces a day or 2.9 liters. So say you just need the 2.2 liters which is still nearly 75 ounces of water! I need to pee just thinking about drinking that much water. An easy way to get started in your day is to take a bottle of water into the shower with you every morning and drink it before you get out. You will then be 16.9 ounces in on your goal or 22.5% complete.
Another parenting essential is caffeine, because sleep is fleeting when you are a new parent. Whether yours is strong and black, weak and creamy, sweet and iced, or bubbly and sugary, you are going to need to find multiple versions of caffeine to get you through the days. You will also need to find a good travel cup to transport said caffeine, and it must be a cup that can hold hot or cold. Bonus points if you can down your bottle of water and sip some caffeine while in the shower. I mean, that’s why they put so many shelves in shower inserts isn’t it? Plus, said travel mug can be used, once breastfeeding is shut down for you Mamas, for sipping your favorite wine or gin and tonic out of after bed, and no one is the wiser.
Happiness is a hot shower
Take your baby in the bathroom while you take a shower. At first, take them in a rock and play or bassinet when they are small, then an excersaucer when they are strong enough to hold their heads up and play, and then a pack n play with their toys and books in it. Do this every day, it does not matter what time. Start day one so they know it is part of your routine and it helps you feel like you and your greasy-haired self are a priority.
If you get busy or exhausted and miss a day, fine, but your baby learns that time during the day is for them to nap or play alone, enjoy the sound of the shower, and for you to sip your water/coffee, scrub up with something that smells good, and exhale. Your baby will also get the benefit of a little steam in their little nose, which in the first year is bound to be stuffy, especially if they are daycare kids like my two. And if your baby fusses, peep your head out, make sure all is okay, and get back to your exhale.
In our house it is known as “taking a steamy” and now my 14 month old twins know that phrase and they come running when I say it. I have to swap their toys out about once a week to keep them entertained, and pop my head out to make sure my son isn’t sitting on my daughter, his favorite game, but all in all, 14 months later and I haven’t gone a single day without a shower. I live in the South, had crazy hormones after the birth of my boy/girl twins, so no one wants me smelly for long.
In my twenties, I had a proclivity for v-neck t-shirts. I owned them in all colors, would even cut t-shirts to be v-neck from time to time. Said collection of v-neck shirts have since been donated because that V is a blinking target for a nuzzle and a spit-up from your angel-faced child. I can’t count how many times I had spit-up run down into my belly button. Plus the V quickly morphs into a U as those little monkeys will latch right onto the neckline of your shirt and tug to their heart’s content.
Another shirt trend I have started is a “pre-work” shirt. I shower, get ready, and throw back on the pajama shirt I was wearing the night before until I am about to walk out the door. Otherwise, someone is bound to drool, sneeze, wipe, spit, poop, pee, or wallow on my clean work shirt, and then it’s back to the drawing board to pick another.
Come snuggle my baby
While you are pregnant, friends and family will say “oh, I’d love to help you once the baby comes.” Sounds nice and all, but often it is like the days ahead that you will tell your kids “we’ll see” about taking them to the monster truck jam/trampoline park/another place you know they would appreciate but know very well that you may or may not follow through visiting. When Aunt Millie says this, you ask her how she could help and you put her name, number, and category of help on a list. Categories could be meals, baby rocking/friendly visitor, errand buddy (to go with you or babysit for you to go), laundry/dishes, date night babysitter, and friendly phone call (talk to your friends, don’t just text).
Now, when you lure, I mean invite, said volunteer back to your house to do said task, make sure to throw in that they will also get to snuggle your sweet baby. And if Aunt Millie shows up with a meal, offers to do the laundry while you take a nap, let her. I didn’t do this, would sit up and talk to whoever came to visit, and offended my loving, sweet friends who wanted to help me out because I felt like they wanted to chat. They do not want to chat, they wanted my haggard self to go take a nap so they could quietly snuggle my children and watch garbage television.
I have bunches of other thoughts on self-care in the midst of parenthood so I will draft something else soon on this same theme, but for now I will leave you with something I tell myself every day. Take care of you.