Let's be honest, nothing can ever really prepare you for motherhood.
No matter how many parenting books you buy before the birth or friends-with-kids you talk to about what it was like for them, when you're knee-deep in nappies and riding the rollercoaster ride of unconditional love teamed with a tsunami of tiredness, any grand postpartum plans you had tend to go out the window.
But there's one thing we'd urge you to stick to from the start: putting yourself first from time to time.
It's easy to lose yourself during those first few months when everything's a blur, but the solution isn't bumping your priorities to the back of the queue. "Me" time is just as important for your family, as it is your own sanity. Honestly.
Doing something for yourself will give you renewed energy to cope with the non-stop demands of a newborn and it will also help boost your confidence in moments of self-doubt.
Here are five of the best self-care things you can do after having a baby.
1. Drink wine and eat cheese
It's the little things in life that bring the most pleasure and, new bundle of joy aside, nothing will bring a smile to your face quite like a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth brie. Especially when you've been denied it during your pregnancy. Wine, soft cheese, sushi and pâté are essentially a push present to yourself so make sure your partner has them all in the fridge when you're heading home from hospital. And we're talking the fancy stuff like President Double Brie, of course.
2. Change your hair
Aside from marking this monumental new chapter in your life with a new look – remember when you used to hit the salon after every promotion, every heartbreak, every everything? – it makes so much sense to change your hair right now. Practically speaking, the amount of time you have to style your hair has gone from a very indulgent (in hindsight) 15-20 minutes in the morning to an I-don't-even-know-what-day-it-is-let-alone-where-my-hairbrush-is zero. Which is why you should give yourself a break for a couple of hours and freshen up your style or colour. It'll pay off by the truckload. You'll feel like the "old you", not just a feeding and burping machine! Plus, with the right hairstyle and good products, you'll be able to roll out of bed and style your hair in 15 seconds flat. If you've noticed your hair is lacking a bit of body and shine, try Pantene Pro-V Sheer Volume Shampoo and Conditioner, $6.99 each. If you think you'll struggle getting to the hairdressers, apps like Dial A Style are made for mums.
3. Buy yourself flowers
You're tired, you're probably not feeling all that sexy and chances are romance is the last thing on your mind right now, but we're going to make a case for romancing yourself. Because treating yourself to a regular bunch of red roses will do more than just make you feel good and your home smell good. Research from the UK's University of Rochester shows that looking at something red makes your reactions faster and stronger, essentially giving you a burst of energy. While it's not long-lasting energy, no one's going to say no to an extra boost – especially one that gives you an excuse to have roses in the house.
4. Hire a cleaner
The most sage advice passed from mum to mum in friendship groups is this: if you haven't already got a cleaner, get one now. Motherhood is by-in-large the most demanding job you will ever have so make life a little easier by outsourcing any jobs you can. While it might have seemed luxurious to pay for a cleaner in the past, it's basically a necessity when you have a baby. If only so you can focus on tidying up after a little one instead of cleaning the bathroom.
5. Get your giggle on
One of the most important things you can do for yourself when you become a mum is engage your sense of humour. It's the fastest way to counteract tears, tantrums and the sheer terror of being totally responsible for a teeny tiny person. Do whatever works for you. Whether it's old Friends re-runs, talking to your best friend on the phone for an hour or googling the 25 funniest memes of 2016, indulge yourself and laugh out loud. Because a happy mummy equals a happy baby.
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