Avoid stress with Jackie’s daily relaxation plan

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Fitting in daily relaxation plan when you have kids
I was reading Sara from Kid Magazine’s blog post on Body Beyond Birth this week. I realised how familiar her story was about wanting to return to a healthy lifestyle after having a baby.
How many mothers can relate to that feeling? It made me think of the need for a daily relaxation plan. A way of stopping the world shifting and changing quite so much. Of slowing things down.
When you have a baby – particularly your first – there are so many changes you experience. There are all the various changes to your body. Your emotional state of well-being alters as you now have a little person counting on you for everything. It seems like the world world changes.
I know when my first son, Maui, was born, I was in complete shock and amazement. I’d had a really quick labour and birth and I couldn’t believe he was actually here. All that build-up to the birth and it was over in the blink of an eye.
I suddenly realised you have so much preparation and support leading up to the birth, and classes to get you ready for all that, but what is there after that?

Who was going to help me now?

I remember taking Maui home from the hospital. We were so happy… and nervous, excited, scared, thrilled, exhausted.

There were so many emotions and thoughts flying around inside of me, yet somehow I just knew everything would be amazing from this point on. And it really has been.

The next few months were filled with lots of sleepless nights, lots of breastfeeding and lots of baby firsts. And lots of moments where I would just sit and gaze at Maui in complete amazement as it slow sunk in; this little person was part of me.

 

Me time and the forgotten me

The one thing that I found hard to find time for, was me. I’d always lived a fairly active lifestyle and I was finding it really challenging to get back to it.

I was usually tired, cooking, washing, doing housework, working, entertaining Maui and basically doing everything except look after me. As happy as I was with my life, I realised I wasn’t happy with myself.

Sure, some of it came down to appearance as we’re all so hard on ourselves and our looks as a general rule. But we seem to take an even tougher view of ourselves after having a baby.

Why doesn’t our body just snap back into shape like it does in the movies? Where is all my energy? Who am I again? But more important than that, I realised that my lack of inactivity meant that I wasn’t sleeping well and I generally felt sluggish.

Bring on the daily relaxation plan

So one day I decided to snap myself out of it. I wrote up a plan of attack. I wanted a daily relaxation plan that got me back to the things I was craving in terms of exercise, energy and feeling more like my pre-birth self.
Don’t get me wrong, the idea nagged at me. It wasn’t all plain sailing.
How was I going to fit more activity into my day while I still had all of these other things to do, including caring for my beautiful baby?
I tried to figure out how I was going to get up in the dark and start my housework, hang out washing before sunrise, cook meals for a week and jumpstart all the family activities it might work.
It was all do-able, but was it going to be enjoyable?
Probably not. It was at this time I decided I needed a plan B.

Plan B was to incorporate looking after me into my daily activities

That sounds like such a genius idea – why didn’t I think of that sooner? But what did it mean?
Now this is where you might think I’m a little crazy. This is where I tell you that if you’ve got a goal in mind, you just need to figure out how to realise that goal and make it become your reality. If I was going to have a workable daily relaxation plan, I had to think through the problems to get to it.

This is how my day looked:

  • I’d get up and put some washing on, then I’d have a shower before Maui woke up. It felt so good to get out of my pyjamas and a shower just made me feel so fresh!
  • We’d have a healthy brekkie together to give us the energy we needed. Then I’d change Maui and get him dressed and we’d have a play together.
  • By this time, the washing would be done so I’d either put on my baby carrier and take Maui out with me to hang it out. Or I might put down a rug and let him have a play while I got my chores done.
  • Once this was done, we’d have morning tea together then shortly after it was nap time for Maui.
And here was one of my opportunities to activate my daily relaxation plan.
If I’d had a restless night’s sleep I might go and have a power nap. If I had the energy to stay up, I’d do some stretching, Pilates or yoga to bring new energy into my body.
By now, Maui would be awake and it was cuddle time and play time again. One of my favourite times of the day!
Afterwards we might go and hang some more washing out then we’d have a healthy lunch. Then it was time for a bit more of a play before Maui’s lunchtime sleep.
Maui’s lunchtime sleep signified my big break. This was my time to use a decent stretch of time to complete some of the points on my daily relaxation plan:
  • I would either put Maui in the baby carrier or in the stroller (I would alternate my routine) then I’d go for a long walk while he slept.
  • If I was wearing the carrier, I would add some squats in during my walk or some lunges. As Maui grew bigger, so did the resistance!
  • If I had the stroller, I would do some lunges and squats. And on hills I would use the stroller to workout my triceps by using a narrow grip to push the stroller in and away from the body keeping your elbows close to your body.
  • Or workout my chest and shoulders with a wide grip on the stroller and pushing the stroller in and away from my body during hill climbing.
  • When I’d get home, I’d do some abdominal work and stretching.
It may seem silly, but it worked!

Sneaking in the daily relaxation plan while the baby is none the wiser

By now, Maui would be awake and ready for a snack and some more play time. While Maui had a bit of a play, I might prepare dinner so I didn’t need to worry about it later. That also gave me some more time with Maui and the opportunity for more cuddles. I really loved those days.
After this, it would be time for bath, dinner and bed. I would finally get some time with my husband.
Most importantly, I would achieve everything I needed to get done. The washing, quality time with Maui, time for me with my daily relaxation plan, the cooking and the time with my husband all started to find its place again.
I would vary the days with different household activities I needed to do. For example, I might have Maui in the carrier when I did the vacuuming and squeeze some squats into the process. And obviously things would change when I needed to go out.
It suited me to do this, and this is how I coped with everything I needed and wanted to do at that time.

Find your own activity groove and daily relaxation plan

Everyone is different. Don’t be tough on yourself. Do everything in your own time. Fitting a bunch of activities as well as a daily relaxation plan into your day is about doing whatever you need to do to look after yourself and make you feel good. Whatever that is.
Nobody can tell you what that is – it’s up to you. Just remember that things won’t happen without you making it happen. Know what you want and plan for that.
So this is how I coped after I had my first bub. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you what happened when Maui was under 3 and I had the twins!

Share your thoughts on how you fit me time and a daily relaxation plan of your own into your day. You might inspire someone else to do the same!