Menu

Here's how I'm taking care of myself this year

By caring for myself I will be a better mama, a more loving wife and a happier human.

Here's how I'm taking care of myself this year

How did you spend your 2019? I know I spent mine giving my body over to twin baby girls, trading in my beauty sleep for late-night feedings and dedicating myself entirely to my family. That's why I've declared that 2020 is "The Year of Me."

What does that mean you may ask? Well, that doesn't mean I'm going to abandon my spunky baby girls or forget about showing love and appreciation for my caring husband. The "Year of Me" means I am going to relearn what it means to love myself.

As I write this, I think of all the mamas I know who are living with one eye on the present, spent with their little(s), and one eye on the future (where their goals live). I often tell myself, I'll start writing my novel again when the girls are a little older or I'll sign up for the gym in the new year.

But I recently began thinking, why not now?

I'm caught up in mom guilt. I spend much of my time living in between the big moments. I'm on the verge of accomplishing all my goals, and then I remember that every moment spent on those goals is a moment away from my sweet little ones. And vice-versa, when I'm spending time with my littles I'm thinking of all the things I want to do for me.

Yes, my children are a part of my past, present and future plans. But I also have goals and plans just for me. I have goals for my self-care, for my career and for my hobbies that will help me be better.

By caring for myself I will be a better mama, a more loving wife and a happier human.

I am hereby releasing myself of mom guilt, and if it means anything, I release all you mamas out there, too.

So, here's my big plan:

1. Begin living in the present.

I spend way too much time feeling guilty about working on things that interest me because those things keep me away from my children. Then when I am with my sweet babies, I'm thinking about when their next nap is so I can get some me-time.

That's over. I want to live in the now and enjoy every second with my littles. No more guilt or stress. My time with them is precious and so is my time pursuing my goals.

2. Eliminate the idea that my needs come last.

I find myself too often doing things for others (which is great) but I seem to always leave myself out. All my family members' birthdays are in the same two-week span but I try to plan a little celebration for each of them on their birthday so they feel special. This year they told me they didn't have time to celebrate my birthday and they weren't sure they could fit it in. I was upset but I made excuses for them and tried to just brush it off. Some girlfriends called me out and recognized that it was okay for me to want to be celebrated and it was okay for me to be upset. I am allowed to have things and moments that are just mine.

3. Work on being healthy and happy.

I had unrealistic weight goals after giving birth. I thought I'd be back in shape in no time, but the truth is, my body has changed. My entire life has changed. I don't need to be a certain number of pounds again. I just need to feel good and be happy and healthy. Yes I am going to work out and I have already adjusted to a healthier diet, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it.

4. Read more of what makes me happy.

I recently read "Where'd you go Bernadette?" and I'm sad to say it was the first actual paper book I had read cover to cover in several months. I seem to consistently come up with reasons not to read, but then the minute I start and I get into a book, I find any possible second to read and I have it done in a matter of days. That's proof that I do in fact have the time to read.

I just started reading, "Big Magic" and I'm feeling pretty inspired. Reading helps me feel happier and more creative, so why not read more?

5. Write something that matters to me.

I'm constantly trying to write things (short stories, novels, articles, etc.) that will matter to other people, but the truth is I need to write for me. I can't speak for other people. I know what I know through my own unique experiences. My experiences may be helpful to others and they may not be, that's okay. It's for me first.

6. For the love of everything holy, keep the office clean.

My office at home is much like my brain most days—full of clutter. Sometimes I think I store things in my office just so I have an excuse not to sit in there and get work done. Not anymore. From now on my office is my own little sanctuary, a happy space where mama can get some work done. I've already started hanging shelves and eliminating clutter. Marie Kondo would be proud.

7. "Let it go. Let it go. Can't hold it back anymore."

What a great song, right? Well, it's true. I've got to learn to let it go. When someone really does something hurtful to me I need to tell them rather than blow it off. I've got to stick up for myself. I matter too. I don't mean I'm going to start yelling at every person who cuts me off on the highway. I mean that no one has the power to make me feel less than. Enough said.

8. I'm going to treat myself.

I work hard so my family can have the things they want, so why can't I be included in that? It's okay to buy new clothes, get my nails done or get a new camera accessory or book. It's my money and I can spend it on me. No guilt necessary. Maybe I'll even take a photography or video editing class or something. Who knows what will happen.

While "The Year of Me" is about small improvements in my life for myself, it's about my babies too. I want them to see that it's possible to be good to your family and to continue doing the things that make you, well, you. I don't want to lose who I am or stop doing what I love because my family has grown. I want to use this lesson in life as a way to inspire my girls to be themselves in the best sense of the word.

Rarely is a woman more concerned with what her body needs than when she's pregnant. We start to question and research everything, right? From swearing off turkey sandwiches to diving down the rabbit hole of prenatal supplements that make up what we lack, the stress of overthinking is real, mama.

One of the main reasons we launched the Motherly Shop is to help take some of that stress away. We've tracked down the best brands and products developed by people (and in many cases, women!) that truly work to serve the needs of real mamas, especially throughout the overwhelming transition into motherhood.

That's why we knew we had to introduce mamas-to-be to the science-backed and expertly-formulated protein collagen for pregnancy from Needed. And as one of our bestsellers, it's clear you've been looking for it, too.

Keep reading Show less
Shop

9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

Keep reading Show less
Life