Simple Ways to Incorporate Healthy Habits for a Lifetime: Feeding, Sleeping, and Movement
Being a mother is the most precious calling, so why can it feel so challenging at times? Well, because it is! Every baby is uniquely beautiful and comes with her own set of needs. The quest as a mom is to do the best we can, one day at a time, to meet those needs without losing sight of our own. Everything may seem overwhelming, and self-care often become yet another daunting item on the to-do list, so let’s look at some simple ways to weave some healthy habits into your day. One of the Sears Family’s main philosophies is to find what works for your family, so I hope these tips can spark some ideas for you. My little guy is 5 months old, and here are some things that have worked for me.
Those few months of transition seemed to come with marathon feeding sessions that seemed to take up half my day! I cherished those bonding moments, yet I also had to find some opportunities to multi-task in a healthy way. I put some boundaries around the first and last nursing sessions.
- Mindful first feed: Find a place in the house that’s calm. Simply sit and connect with your breath and whatever feelings/emotions that come up. Slow, steady inhales and exhales, perhaps a prayer or mantra comes to mind.
- Feeding Station: Always have water and a healthy snack within reach, and an inspiring or funny book or podcast ready to go
- Be aware of screen time: Balance screen time. But be realistic! I love me some Netflix!
- Bedtime blessing: Returning to whatever calm space you have set up (I love putting on twinkle lights near my rocking chair), and do your best to block out the rest of the day’s challenges.
Create a serene vibe between you and Baby by connecting to your breath. As Baby is falling asleep connect an empowering and peaceful word to each body part. For instance, gently touch Baby’s head and speak “wisdom”, and then move to Baby’s heart and speak “compassion”. I found this incredibly soothing.
Many moms share that it was much easier to eat nutritious foods during pregnancy when there wasn’t another human being’s constant demand. One mom shared with me: “I was the healthiest I’ve ever been when I was pregnant, I had a deep-seated devotion to nourish my growing baby; but why is it so hard to have that same devotion to nourish myself?” I know I can relate to that. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it! Accepting that things are different postpartum is key, but our babies still need a nourished mama: One day at a time, just doing the best we can. I had to really reset my expectations to a more realistic/sustainable level. For instance, I knew my body needed the nourishment from a superfood smoothie, but my usual 15-ingredient smoothie was not in the cards some days. So, I simplified to a 5- ingredient version. Other tips:
- One-handed foods: Hard boiled eggs, yogurt pouch, fruit and veggie slices, nuts, seeds, cheese, protein bar
- Quick breakfasts: Oatmeal, a simple smoothie, eggs, nut butter on toast with banana, gluten-free frozen waffles
- Crockpot meals: Pinterest!
- Postpartum Party: friends help you build some freezer meals
- Restore: Try to sleep when baby sleeps (at least for one nap)
- Get out and about: Make use of time when the baby is sleeping: if your baby sleeps well on-the-go, then run an errand or pop him in the stroller and take a nice walk
- Sleep and down time: If you don’t need a nap, then enjoy a different self-care item like a shower that is longer than 3 minutes, or beauty treatment while baby sleeps.
- Babywearing: What a special bonding time for you and baby! If your baby needs your presence to sleep consider a sling or wrap.
Movement and Recovery
- Work it in: Baby gives you a built-in resistance-training opportunity. Diaper changing while doing calf raises, or squats while babywearing for instance.
- Classes: make it fun! Try a mommy-baby yoga class or stroller fitness class. I am always so surprised how entertained most babies are!
- Small commitments add up. Start small with maybe a short walk with a friend.
- Kegel breaths: Breathe in and focus/engage the pelvic muscles (like you’re trying not to pee), hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat.
- Kegel bridge: Lay on the floor with your knees bent and palms by your hips. Breathe in and engage pelvic muscles, then lift your hips slightly. Hold for 10 seconds then relax. Repeat. If baby needs play time, then have her sit on your belly. Babies make great personal trainers and cheerleaders!
- Belly breathing: This can be done whenever/wherever. Simply sit, stand or lay down, and completely relax your abdominal muscles as you inhale (like you’re inflating a balloon), then engage your abdominal muscles as you exhale by drawing in your belly button (deflating the balloon)
For more movement and nutrition ideas check out our new book, The Dr. Sears T5 Wellness Plan.
Most importantly, have compassion for this precious stage of transition. One day at a time you and your baby will find the groove that works for you!