I should have known something was up. The Lawyer and I happened to be at a health spa in upstate New York years and years ago, where I was covering the retreat for a story I was writing on juice fasting. Around midnight, I remember waking up and telling him: “You know that glass of carrot, celery and kale juice we had for dinner just isn’t doing it for me. Think there’s a place for fried chicken around here?”
Far be it from The Lawyer to argue this case. He probably would have forfeited his law degree to have anything but the spinach, kohlrabi, and beet root concoction we had for ‘lunch.’ Without even bothering to question as to why someone as health conscious as myself would make such an absolutely unheard of request—in the middle of the night, no less —he was up, dressed, and with the car keys in hand in literally seconds. If my memory serves me correctly, we finally found a 24-hour roadside KFC after driving around treacherously icy roads. Mind you, he can’t seem to find his cellphone in the light of morning, but we located The Colonel in the pitch black. The next day, instead of waiting around for the obligatory casaba and kiwi juice, we were happily off to one of those all-you-can-eat breakfasts at the local diner.
Suffice it to say, the answer became clear shortly thereafter: I was pregnant and didn’t even know it. And I enjoyed every single minute of it, I might add. In fact, I loved all three of my pregnancies. Alas, while it’s great to finally eat untold quantities with abandon, once the baby arrives, you’ll be lucky if you have time to eat anything at all. (Well, maybe what’s left of the Chips Ahoy Chunky Chocolate Chip cookies that require no more energy expended than sticking your hand into the bag.) Even though, having started to work from home, I personally relished not having to wear skirts and heels and felt most comfortable in sweats and bunny slipper with one eye missing, there are many new mothers who are ready to get back in the swing of things. Especially now that spring is finally here, they want to spend a little time focusing on their own revitalization, but don’t have clue—or are way too exhausted—to even know where to begin.
“Realizing that you exist as an individual can come as a shock as you gradually emerge from your ‘newborn fog.’ And focusing on personal renewal as you move into life as a mom can feel like a bridge too far,” says Princess Ivana Pignatelli Aragona Cortes (yes, she’s a real princess whose family’s 1,000-year lineage includes Kings of Sicily and Spain, Catherine of Aragon, a Pope, and a Saint.)
Ivana, a featured blogger at Modern Mom, founder of Princess Ivana—The Modern Princess, and coauthor of the upcoming book, A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year, feels that as you spend so much of your time and energy taking care of a baby—and possibly other children—the idea of starting a new phase for yourself can be overwhelming. “Don’t get hung up on the idea of a major overhaul; take small steps instead. Little changes can make a surprisingly big impact,” she advises. “Remember, at the end of the day, it’s important to feel good about yourself because that’s what will make you the best mother. And spring, which is naturally a time of growth, change, and renewal, is a wonderful opportunity to start the process. “
With more hours of sunlight, warmer weather and vibrant colors to brighten your days, you’ll naturally feel more energized and motivated to re-enter the world, baby in tow. Here are nine of Ivana’s spring resolutions that will help you begin to blossom as a mom:
1) Develop a new attitude: Start burning calories in baby steps. Promise yourself a 10-minute routine in the mornings; maybe a simple, fun dance DVD that gets you moving for the day. As you build up stamina, you may want to lengthen your routine. And if time is in short supply, a 10-minute workout is better than none.
2) Spring clean your closet: The clothes from last spring don’t fit the way they should—and might not be suited to nursing anyway —but you’re sick of wearing the frumpy winter clothes that have been hiding the leftover baby weight. Take an inventory of what you have, what doesn’t work for you anymore, and what you’d like to purchase. Clean out any pieces that you know you won’t wear, even after you’ve reached a goal weight—like that skimpy number you wore on your honeymoon five years ago. Buy some new pieces or even start thinking about ways to reinvent the pieces you keep.
3) Choose high energy colors: Most of us have spent the past several months covered up head-to-toe in heavy grays, blacks, and browns. Chances are you’re more than ready to turn to high-energy colors like pinks, greens, yellows, oranges, and blues for an instant boost. So try out a new color that makes you pop. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Go for a simple t-shirt, new lip color or nail polish.
4) Get outside and play: Take advantage of the warmer weather and longer daylight hours to reconnect with your body. Go for walks or spend more time at the playground with your children. In addition to the benefits of getting your body moving, you’ll also be absorbing more vitamin D from the sun, which can help regulate your immune system, boost your mood, and more.
5) Eat more fresh foods: With a new baby at home (and all the work, irregular hours, and exhaustion that entails), you’ve probably been in survival mode this winter. While there’s nothing wrong with eating take-out and casseroles brought over by family and friends as you adjust to the new normal, now is a great time to freshen up your diet with healthier choices. Consider planting a small herb container garden so that you’ll have fresh seasonings all summer long. Spend a Saturday morning enjoying the spring weather with your new little family as you stroll through a local farmers’ market. Know, though, that becoming healthier doesn’t have to mean a total diet overhaul. Integrating new, fresh ingredients a little at a time can make a big difference.
6) Laugh and reconnect: If you’ve been cooped up all winter with a newborn at home (and/or stuck inside with kids as you try to avoid cold and flu season), then it may be time to reconnect with friends. Try to book a weekly or monthly date with your girlfriends—and keep it!
7) Make regular dates for mama maintenance: With a newborn or little ones taking up most of your schedule, it’s easy to let your own needs fall by the wayside—and before you know it, you wake up one day and hardly recognize the frazzled, frumpy woman staring back at you in the mirror. Take some time to catch up on appointments for yourself. It doesn’t have to be an all-out spa day. Get your hair trimmed, your color touched up, a manicure and pedicure. Schedule a facial or a massage. Even a trip to the dentist for your bi-annual cleaning can work wonders when it comes to feeling more like you again.
8) Drink more water: If you’ve traded your daily water intake for coffee and caffeine (and who can blame you?), then it may be time to make a conscious effort to work water back into your daily routine. It’s good for your skin, muscles, and energy levels, and it can even marginally help your weight-loss efforts. And if you’re breastfeeding, it’s worth noting that staying hydrated is a great way to maintain or even increase your supply of milk.
9) Spark up a spring fling (with your spouse): If the last few months have revolved around feeding schedules, diaper duty, and discussions of who got up with the baby last, then it’s likely that the new roles of “mom” and “dad” have put your other roles as “wife,” “husband,” or “partner” on the back burner. Now is the time to refresh your love, as well. After all, your romance is the foundation on which your growing family is built, and it’s in everyone’s best interests for your relationship to remain strong, healthy, and exciting.
So whether your partner thinks he’s a Lawyer, a Colonel—or a Prince—new moms, it’s time to spring into action.