The first few months with a new baby are often taxing and exhausting. Life has changed in a major way and, for a while, many moms find themselves living in survival mode. When the fog begins to lift and life begins to feel “normal” again, moms should take an intentional look at how they’re doing. Are they satisfied emotionally with their partner? How about socially with their friends? Do they feel healthy and strong? Are the choices they’ve made around work still working?
The six-month mark is a perfect time to realign your priorities and think through any challenges you might be experiencing. Check out the list below for six things every mom should do when her baby is six months old to ensure that she is happy, healthy, and thriving, just like her baby.
1 | Reconnect with friends
Some women have kids around the same time as their friends do. Maternity leaves might overlap and, while the late nights out might shift to early morning coffee dates, they don’t have trouble staying connected to their friends. If your friends don’t have kids, or you’ve been up to your ears in trying to figure out parenthood and haven’t had the time to hit send on that half-typed text, take a pause and make a commitment to reconnect with your friends.
While the golden standard is a night out with friends without the baby, a night in with ordered pizza and board games works too. If your friends are long distance, put a monthly call on both of your calendars and make it happen. While you might still be so tired that you’d rather crash as soon as the baby goes down, invest in your friendships now, when it’s tough, and you’ll be able to maintain them in the long run.
2 | Plan a night out with your spouse
Many parents may have already taken a date night once the six month mark rolls around. If you haven’t, make a point to choose a time to connect, get a babysitter, and go out. Even if your little one nurses through the evening or wails when he’s left with a stranger, find a way to wrangle your schedules (Would a lunch date work? How about a very late dinner?) to ensure that your baby is happy, and you and your spouse have the opportunity to chat without the lovely goos and gahs you’re used to hearing.
3 | Reexamine your physical health and fitness goals
Having a baby is taxing on the body. At the six-month mark some women may feel strong and healthy while others may still be dealing with more weight then they’d like or with painful after-effects of birth. At the six-month mark, take the time to assess how you feel physically and make a plan to take any action you feel you need to take.
If you’re still experiencing pain from delivery, make a doctor’s appointment to talk about finding a solution. If you’re experiencing muscle weakness, consider checking in with a physical therapist to see if there are exercises you can be doing to help you feel stronger. If you’re feeling heavier than you’d like, think about making a plan to assess your nutrition. Your health matters and, after having a baby, there’s more to recovery then just weight loss. Paying attention to your health now will leave you happier and healthier in the long run.
4 | Take an honest look at your mental health
Postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety are extremely common conditions that many women don’t seek help for. Consider how you’ve been feeling since your baby came along and, if you or a trusted loved one thinks that something might not be quite right, reach out to your OBGYN or primary care doctor for a referral to a mental health professional. Taking charge of your mental health has the ability to shift how you feel about your entire parenting experience.
5 | Reexamine your career goals
Perhaps when you had your baby you decided to stay home but now, six months out, you’re starting to miss working in your field. Or maybe you went back to work at six weeks and are finding it tougher and tougher to be away from your little one. At the six-month mark, you’ve spent enough time as a parent to begin to understand the interplay of work and family in your life and you may be ready to make some changes. Look at what’s working and what’s not and take any first steps you need to take to move in the direction that feels right to you.
6 | Look for tough spots and work to troubleshoot
Bringing a baby home often leads to a drastic redistribution of household duties. Sometimes, that redistribution works well but, other times, it leads to essential jobs just not getting done. Take a look at your everyday life, the chores you do each day, how you handle transportation and shopping, and what your routine looks like. Identify any spots that lead to reoccurring conflict or inconvenience and make a list of ways you can do things differently. Look at the family budget (the time budget and the money budget) and decide if it makes sense to redistribute within the family or to outsource. Perhaps a simple shake up in who does what, plus sacrificing eating out once a week to afford a monthly deep clean, leads to a smoother everyday experience.