Back to Badass after Baby

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In the UK There’s a generous amount of first time ‘mother-to-be’ information available. After baby arrives, it can feel as if the supporting information fizzles out even if it's not true, it can feel as if you're on your own.

The continual sleep deptivation and rebalancing hormones clouded my solution finding brain cells when I wanted some pizzaz or va va voom.

Over time, I adopted some self care rituals which if I maintain in my daily routine, rewards me with feel-good dividends.

1: Slowing down

I am accustomed to speed in almost everything. Especially city lifestyle speed. Plus the speed of emails, texts, face time, search engines seems to be continually increasing in velocity so when our new little life arrived, things felt out of sync because everything she saw, touched, smelt, heard, was for the first time and she wanted to take her time exploring. For me, this slowing down actually took a lot of effort discipline and practice. It felt counter intuitive. When I did manage to slow down, I benefited greatly. I found that slowing down creates a mist of serenity that calms everyone around. It can create space to be more mindful of what we say do and think. Plus it can create a calm and positive environment where all interactions feel safe calm and enjoyable for all.

2: Time is the best healer

As the old proverb goes, time heals. I am referring to healing of the body, the mind the cell memories in the exertion of creating carrying and birthing a child. Most doctors like to say that it can take three years for the body to recover after having a child. A lot of first time mothers have shared in parenting forums that they re-gained their pre-baby body shape, confidence and self esteem, after 18 months from having their child. So along with slowing down, I try to find patience to be kinder to myself, kinder to my body and adopt a positive self-talk. It's not easy! I'm a work in progress on that front!

3: Preen and pamper

This is tricky with a new born. Pre-birth, there was so much encouragement to take care of myself to benefit me and baby. After baby arrived, nobody seemed to care whether I ate well, kept well and lived well. All the attention shifted to the new baby but in retrospect, I am the hard working primary caregiver who made a huge journey to create and bring into the world a new life. As such, I believe that it is every new mother’s prerogative to maintain her well- being without guilt. As a minimum, it’s great to continue using the best body cream we can afford and cleanse and moisturise our face. We would do this for our child so we deserve it ourselves. Moisturising our bodies can be a meditative routine if we allow it to be. As we pamper, we can recall a few positive affirmations and as we do, we can try to re-connect with loving our skin and feeling comfortable being in our skin. Gradually as our body remembers to get back it’s original shape and size, this ritual can become more nourishing and accelerate the process of remembering who we were and still are as an individual which is probably a whole lot more than only being an ultra perfect earth mother!

4: Self image and identity

There is not much in the way of post birth counselling or assistance for women adjusting to a new role and a new life. For many women the question ‘who am I now?’ is common and most will silently be suffering a mild identity crisis. It’s a natural state given that it’s a huge transition. Pre baby, my role was defined by my successful career, marital happiness, sense of style, wearing clothes I loved and sharing my adventurous identity with the world. After baby, for a period of time, It felt as if my only identity was ‘parent’. There was a disconnection from every other aspect of life such as friend, adventure seeker, lover, party-goer and more. My first suggestion to anyone who resonates with this is to accept not knowing your role as a process and that it’s common. The second is to draw a grid of at least 6 boxes on a page. In one box put parent and in the other five boxes put other roles that you used to have in life and then fill each of those boxes with a fun activity that relates to that role. Gradually you can integrate the other roles back into your life. Also, if you feel and know that you are not feeling on true harmony, and not finding the connection with yourself you once had, I recommend trying natural remedies and in particular Homeopathy as it can be so deep acting and get to the root of unbalanced emotions and permanently resolve them unlike any conventional mood elevating prescription drugs.

There are two particular Homeopathic remedies that fitted my picture and my emotional profile when I wanted to re-connect with my true self and identity the first was 'Arnica' which had a wound healing effect and the other 'Sepia' which helped with the boundaries and limitations. If you are familiar with homeopathy, you'll know that remedies are selected on individual characteristics and the potency is selected on a case by case basis. It's always best to work with a practitioner. If you would like to find out more or discuss a remedy for you get in touch!

5: Better than before

There’s no doubt that parenting is a physical mental and emotionally exerting commitment and for anyone who has returned to work or trying to return to work, there are additional challenges that arise such as employer perceptions of a new parent’s ability to work long hours, travel for business purposes and being flexible in a changing corporate climate. There are child care drop off and collections and the unexpected situations when an unwell child needs to be collected from child care during office hours which tends to happen just when you are about to have that long awaited salary review with your boss. Staying at home is no easier, with limitations in financial freedom, positive social interactions and intellectual stimulation. So where does that leave a new mother? Pretty vulnerable. So, it’s one of the most important times to actively take steps to cultivate and maintain a healthy outlook on life. It’s good to accept the fact that in many ways after becoming a parent we can be better than we were before. But that better can go unnoticed unless we journal the wins.

Think of the mental emotional and physical endurance we thought we never had, we now have proof it’s there after all those sleepless nights. What about multi-tasking? Before we thought juggling a conference call and making a cup of tea was a challenge whereas now it seems like child’s play as we simultaneously navigate our way pushing a stroller one handed over the rough terrains of town, taking a phone call and feeding our precious piece of heaven alongside sipping coffee in an effort to keep the contents inside the cup. While doing all that, in the name of good parenting we aim to maintain a calm and joyful disposition or that of a good role model!

Then we return home and might prepare a romantic supper See? We are now a super heroines! Then take the baby schedule, meal times, nap times, creative play, motor skill development – we might have thought we were not so good with project deadlines. Well after a baby routine of stealth precision – our diary and time management will take the force of a fighter plane pilot! So while we take steps to get back in shape, back to socialising and back to generating an income, let’s try and remember – we are now better than before!

6: Back to badass!

Personally I became frustrated with typical advice given to me such as plan a date with your spouse or plan a night out as they just were not viable for my personal situation. Instead I found ways to revive mundane things that I had forgotten about since my bundle of joy entered planet Earth. So here are are few ideas from what I did in my effort to get from baby bearing to body rockin’ badass! You’ll probably have a few up your sleeve so don’t be shy – share your badass-ness in the comments below!

– Wear whatever perfume or fragrance you have in your house that makes you feel good. This is most likely going to feel pointless given the number of nappies you’ll change in a day and the amount of baby vomit you’ll clean off your shoulders but as motivation – just think of the heightened sense of smell your baby has so it might be nice to smell and associate a fragrance as a calming sensory presence. I used aromatherapy oils but you can use what you like as long as you like how it makes you feel.

– Wear nice lingerie. Wear these even under your non sexy pyjamas to give you an inner feeling of va va voom! Don’t worry if you don’t feel like jumping on stage to perform a pole dancing show straight away. Just let your senses guide you into feeling like you did sensually pre baby.

– Stop eating when you feel full. This seems obvious but I was doing a lot of comfort eating and it was not doing any good for my morale or my waistline.

– Every morning before you shower try dry body brushing. It can stimulate the skin to break down the fat under the skin that causes cellulite and can also detoxify. If nothing else, your skin will feel smooth and when you moisturise, the lotion will hydrate your skin and not dead skin cells sitting on top of your smooth skin.

– Write down three things about you that make you a badass in a diary or notebook each day. This habit can work like meditation or positive affirmations and bring out more of the badass in you, the more often you write. Be sure to make this only about you and not you plus baby.

– It’s O.K. to feel overwhelmed. It’s not an easy job being a mother.  Enlist the help of all the friends you have without children. They’ll have had more sleep, more rest and more time to get you the help you need. Be specific in what you need them to do. Don’t expect them to automatically know or read your mind. Be politely explicit and allow the help to flow into your life. This is the time to let go of your ego and boundaries and it’s O.K. to ask for help. We are human.

– It’s obvious but overlooked that fresh air and a change of scene is key for optimism even if for five minutes a day.

– Your home is now by default your place of work and your lair so keep an area that is just for you. No baby gear, no parenting gear – just your adult badass-ness. Keep a few items in view that remind you of who you are as an individual like holiday photographs and pictures of you looking your best. Looking at these will help keep your subconscious mind to manifest the same feelings and experiences as you had then. Plus it’s a meditative place where you can go to take five, breath and get back in the game.

Stay in your power and your badass self! And if you are not there yet, know that it's a process. The path to getting there could be worth it. 

Jump right in below if you would like to share any experiences of your own. I look forward to connecting with you!

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Afreen Dylowski