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The self-care checklist that will refresh new mamas

How do I take care of myself while caring for my child and all the other responsibilities in my life?

The self-care checklist that will refresh new mamas

After the many months (maybe years) you've spent dreaming of holding your precious baby in your arms, the time has finally arrived! Congratulations, mama!


The explosive, powerful, purposeful love you are most likely experiencing right now is unlike anything you've ever felt, right? It's amazing! And the mama bear instinct to care for and protect your baby is pretty overwhelming.

The postpartum phase is not the same for every mom, but most often the above-mentioned euphoria sends a new mom into caretaker action without much thought or effort. Until... the exhaustion, residual pain from childbirth and the sometimes abrupt realization that you do in fact have other responsibilities outside of the baby set in.

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This can feel like someone dumped a ton of bricks on your already-tired back.

This conundrum is the beginning of the looping question that nearly every mother grapples with throughout most of her life as a mom:

How do I take care of myself while caring for my child + all the other responsibilities in my life?

As a veteran mom of four children and author of The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother's Must-Have Guide to Health and Well-Being, for which I interviewed hundreds of moms, the most important mantra for every new mom who is in the throes of making this life-altering transition and trying to figure out the answer to the above-mentioned question is this:

I will be KIND to myself.

Many moms, myself included, find many of the postpartum days and nights to be a blur. I remember feeling as if I were walking wearily through a very dense fog and sometimes I accidentally stepped in some quicksand.

While there are certainly moments of euphoric bliss while gazing at the amazing miracle you created who is resting in your arm, the postpartum time is not for the faint of heart.

And self-care is not high on your list right now.

Not rolling over on top of your baby when you pass out while nursing her in your bed is.

BUT I am here to offer you a lifeline.

A lifeline that you will need throughout your entire life as a mother.

From this point on, the responsibility of taking care of your child will take up a great deal of space in your heart, mind + body. In turn, the time + energy you need to take care of yourself will be more scarce.

Your self-care needs to be driven from a strong and secure place within you—a place that is fueled by self-love, self-worth and self-advocacy.

Sometimes it may seem that you have to fight for your self-care. And often you will. And sometimes you won't want to fight and will feel like it's too hard to fight for your own self-care when you have so many other responsibilities.

But remember that, as Brené Brown tells us,

We are wired for struggle.

Think about how your baby arrived in this world. His first sound was a cry. His first audible self-care signal that says,“Feed me hold, me, warm me, touch me, soothe me…"

As a mother, you must not only be attuned to your baby's cries, but pay attention to your own cries for self-care as well.

And you are in charge of honoring and tending to both.

In the months after your baby is born, in addition to honoring your baby's needs, keep this self-assessment nearby as a daily reminder of your self-care needs.

  • I will aim to take a hot shower or bath today or tonight.
  • I will eat at least one nourishing meal while sitting down at a table.
  • I will keep myself hydrated throughout the day and night.
  • I will make sure I laugh today. I may need to call a friend who can find humor in anything or watch a funny show or video.
  • At least once today, even for just a few moments, I will ground myself by connecting with gratitude or making a spiritual connection—maybe through meditation, prayer, yoga, deep breathing or a centering exercise like writing or reading.
  • I will move my body today by taking a short walk around the block or up and down the stairs, doing 10 minutes of stretching or yoga, or dancing in the kitchen while heating up a bottle.
  • I will connect with my partner about something other than the baby. Maybe I will send a thoughtful text, hug or kiss him/her at least once during the day or night, or share a glass of wine or cup of tea after kids are in bed.
  • I will do something for myself today that makes me feel special and ignites inner joy? Maybe I will treat myself to a manicure when grandma watches the baby, buy a new fun-colored lipstick, or meet a friend for a walk or lunch?
  • I will honor my body's need for sleep by forgoing cleaning, laundry, emails and cooking (dinner will just have to be later or I will ask my partner to cook) if I can grab an extra hour of sleep when the baby is sleeping.

Would you deprive your child of eating healthy foods, moving their bodies, getting enough rest, playing with friends, drawing, painting, reading, exploring, signing, dancing or spending quiet time alone?

Of course you wouldn't. So why would you deprive yourself of those things?

Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is the belief that you are worthy of a healthy and joyful life.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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

Life

Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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