Doing these may seem natural, but you’re just hurting yourself.
Hanging prominently on my kitchen wall is a picture frame that reads, “Good mums have sticky floors, dirty ovens, and happy kids.” Laughs aside, I think he who gifted me that was hinting that I need to look after myself (and my terrible eyebags) more.
It’s true, I put my kids first, and it’s something most of my mummy friends are guilty of too. Guilty? Yes, I say “guilty”, because it’s actually bad for us. Here’s why – and what else mums are doing that are bad for them.
1. Place everyone else before you
Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States, once remarked that her first priority is herself. Her reason? “One of the things that I want to model for my girls is investing in themselves as much as they invest in others.” Putting yourself first doesn’t mean not caring about others, but respecting yourself as an individual and caring for your own needs too.
2. Carry Junior wrongly
Wrist pain is a common problem for new mothers, as they tend to twist their wrist at impossible angles just to keep Baby comfortable. Carrying Junior wrong can also lead to back pain. Think: holding him on one hip, or bending over to pick him up from the bed or floor.
To avoid potential injuries, keep your forearm, wrist and hand straight when carrying your child. Hold him close to your body with both arms, instead of one hip. If he hates the carrier, but you need to have an arm free, remember to change sides regularly. Also, make it a habit to kneel down or bend your knees to get as close as possible to your kid when picking him up.
3. Squeeze into pre-pregnancy clothes
It took nine months to gain all that pregnancy weight, and it can take almost as long to get back into shape. In the meantime, don’t demoralise yourself by trying to fit back into your old clothes. Plan your schedule ahead of time to fit in exercise like these ones with Baby, and make an effort to eat nutritionally. Tip: Instead of counting calories, choose whole foods over processed foods. Whole foods have more nutrients and take a longer time and more energy to be broken down and digested by the body, says Kareen Lai, personal trainer and founder of Mums In Sync. (See more of her tips here.)
4. Over-pack the diaper bag
Toting around a baby and a heavy bag will tire you out pretty quickly – and you haven’t even reached the mall. Learn to pack just the essentials like diapers, bottles, milk powder, wet wipes, snacks, a spare change of clothes and plastic bags for dirty items (or food, see #5). Choose items that can do double duty too, for instance, your shawl can be used as Baby’s blanket. Remember to go through your diaper bag contents regularly to toss out unnecessary items or forgotten junk. Also, skip the florals and get a neutral diaper bag so that hubby can take over the lugging sometimes.
5. Eat the leftovers
Kids never seem to finish their food. Whether they chose a special kids meal at the restaurant, or you whipped up their favourite foods, there are still leftovers. Ugh. Instead of scarfing down their scraps (and ruining your own diet), pack it up for later. Bring along your own resealable bags like Ziploc or small lunchboxes, because restaurant takeaway boxes tend to be too large – plus, they might be chargeable.
6. Sleep too little
Adults need an average of six to eight hours of sleep. Personally, I think mummies need a lot more sleep. Alarmingly though, a survey of 1,000 mothers in the UK found that new mums slept an average of four hours a night in the first four months of their baby’s life. By 18 months, sleep for mummies averaged five hours a night. This sleep deprivation can lead to mood changes, and possibly worsen baby blues or postpartum depression. Talk to a doctor, if you or a new mummy friend experiences any of these symptoms.
Mothers of toddlers don’t have it easier either. My five-year-old still wakes me up for a night time hug (aww) or when she needs the toilet (eww). That’s the reason why my eyebags persist, and why I ask/scream/beg for help with the kids at times. So, if you need more shut-eye to recharge, go on and get a babysitter. Because, Michelle Obama.