This week was a great reminder of – Small Things Can Make a Huge Difference – for having a great or a bad day as a mum with a baby.
I can tell you, this week didn’t start very well and so I was reminded of the fact that I am still a Mum with Postpartum Depression.
From the beginning of the week, I felt the fogginess and negative energy slowly creeping from my mind into my body and taking over any positivity. With each day my arms, my legs, then my chest and even my eyelids became heavier and it was very exhausting to find any motivation to do something. My strength for getting up came only from the fact that my baby actually needed me.
By the end of the week I was really struggling but the week earlier I had promised my mother-in-law to visit her. I tried to find an excuse not to go, especially because it was 40 km away. But then I admitted that this trip was not for me but for my son and mum-in-law. They would love to see each other, as we only have a couple of months until she is flying back to her overseas home.
Mum pretends to be happy to the outside world
I decided to go and visit my mum-in-law and try to act all happy and engage in “happy” conversations. We had no other plans anyway.
And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. My son was sleeping in the car on the way there and was relaxed once we arrived. And my mum-in-law had already prepared lunch. We played and talked and we had a good time together.
At home, reflecting on the day, I was smiling. It turned out to be a good day after all for everyone. Yes, also for me.
It amazed me, just a small thing of getting out of the house and visiting a family member made a huge difference. Not only did it change my mood for the day but also the rest of the week felt easier to cope with.
This inspired me to note down my top 6 simple tips which help me to improve my mood and make the day a happy one. And maybe, those may improve your day too.
1) Have a Shower
Having a shower used to be nothing special before we had our little ones, right? Just a normal part of our morning or night routine. But now, there is hardly a routine. A shower is easy to forget or put aside.
Pre-baby, I used to have my shower first thing in the morning to wake me up. I am not a morning person and need some motivation for the day.
Well, now, in the morning I am tired and just want to sleep as much as my baby allows me to. And once my baby is awake I am busy entertaining, feeding, etc. And once my baby sleeps, I finally get to catch up with the housework and to prepare the next meal.
Squeezing in a shower seems impossible at times and I have to admit there were days where I only managed to put on some fresh underwear, deodorant and some dry shampoo on my hair.
Sounds somehow familiar? So – Let’s make having a shower a priority again. We owe it to ourselves.
Have a shower before the baby wakes up (if you can get out of bed before). Otherwise just have it while your baby is awake and take him into the bathroom with you, e.g. sitting in the bouncer or playing with one of his favourite toys. I usually have a shower latest when my baby is down for the first nap of the day.
And while you are in the shower, doesn’t it feel amazing? In those couple of minutes, you can feel the freshness of the water on your skin? And afterwards, there is this energy boost? It does it for me. I feel refreshed and energised.
2) Go Out For Some Fresh Air
Just breathing in the fresh air, feeling the sun and the wind on my skin and the light in my eyes makes me feel alive and instantly more content.
It also means I get out of my – oh so comfortable – tracksuit pants which I usually wear all day while I am at home. It is good to dress up a bit and look half-way presentable for the outside world. Makes me feel more human.
And there should be no excuses because of whichever season there is outside at the moment. In winter, I can just rug up my baby and myself. In summer, when it is too hot to be just outside I usually go somewhere which has airconditioning, like a shopping centre.
But most of the days I just walk around the blog – I am glad for having a dog which forces me to go out even if I don’t feel like it. And we like to go to the park or to the beach. And after my husband comes home from work, we often go out together for a pre- or after dinner walk.
Another plus: the baby gets tired from all the exciting stimulation outside. This aids having a great long nap during the walk outside or latest afterwards, which gives mummy time for herself.
If you like to read more into it, there are several studies that prove that your body and also your mental health will benefit from being outside, see the article from Harvard Health Publishing for example, which was published in July 2010.
3) Talk to Someone Else Apart From Your Baby
I love talking to and playing with my baby. This is what I do all day. But the conversation is rather one-sided, especially in the first couple of months when your newborn can communicate only very limited to you. Often I don’t even realise this, but it makes me feel lonely and lost if at the end of the day all I did was interacting with my baby. Although, ironically I was not alone.
Having a conversation with an adult is so refreshing and makes me feel like an actual ‘person’ again. I am no longer just someone who feels like living in a surreal baby world.
So I’d say, what about just speaking to a friend or catch up with the fellow mothers from mother’s group? Even short conversations like for example with the friendly lady from the coffee shop – a simple: “Hi, how was your day?!” can make a huge difference. And I am naturally an introvert.
4) Take a 5-minute Break
While the baby is sleeping, take a little 5-minute break in your busy day. Or if possible 10 or 15 minutes.
Let the world stand still for a couple of minutes to recharge and – Just be there for yourself – sit and relax.
For me, it is doing some meditation while I sit or lay on my bed and blend out from the outside world. Or I have a coffee or a tea on my couch and don’t think about any of the chores which still need to be done. Just forget everything (no household, no baby, no partner, nothing.)
Enjoy the calmness within you and around the house. And so you are able to refuel.
5) Set One Goal to Accomplish Per Day
Yes, just ONE small goal – nothing major – only one small thing.
I always have a lot of things on my mind but there is always something else getting in between and gets prioritised. Mainly my baby which is screaming for me…
It is easier to start breaking big projects down into smaller tasks. Not just trying to do a full manicure, but maybe today just removing the old nail polish, which is usually only left in patches anyway. And the next day file and put new nail polish on.
Well, sometimes I get carried away and my one little task develops into a major operation and I end up trying to clean the complete bathroom, even when my task was to only clean the toilet.
Anyway, once I finally ticked this certain task off my list I instantly feel relieved and my mood lifts because I can get this out of my mind. Finally. It is not constantly reminding me of what I still have left to do. Although sometimes I cannot go around the feeling that I am still annoyed with myself because I left it for too long. And it feels good to know that you have accomplished something else, apart from the daily routine to keep the baby amused and fed or doing the daily household chores.
Listen to your favourite but happy music. And if you feel like it, dance, sing and be silly. Your baby might also enjoy this.
I recently read that it helps the baby’s development to listen to music or the radio. So this week I actually put some music on while getting ready in the morning. All off a sudden I am not just brushing my teeth but I am also starting to move my hips and actually enjoying myself.
Since my now 7 months old baby was born, this was actually the first time that I was dancing. I always loved to dance and realised in that very moment that I missed this. And I am not the only one enjoying myself and smiling. Who else is? My baby boy. 🙂
He is watching me from his bouncer and smiling and also moving his arms and legs. Seems like he is copying me. Love it.
It was only a couple of minutes of dancing before I went into the shower, but this was fun and instantly lifted my mood. It set a good vibe for the day to come.
P.s.: Last but not least…
You hear it all the time, but try to get as much sleep as possible. There is no way you can be happy if you are tired. This sounds too easy and is one of the hardest when you have a baby who does wake up several times a night and keeps you busy during the day. And when the baby sleeps, you want to catch up on housework or something else. There is always something to do.
I really try to get a power nap during the day (when I did not have a good night’s sleep). It is just a short 10 to 30-minute sleep in the afternoon which gives me new energy afterwards.
So much for me. I hope these tips will be beneficial for you. Try one, some or all tips and incorporate into your day. They certainly help me.
But now I would like to know which other little things are helping you to have a happier day?