If the winter winds have been howling outside (while your baby is howling inside), you might be experiencing a touch of the winter blues. After several weeks or months of caring for your new arrival, it’s easy to become stuck in a rut of wearing warm, baggy clothes and staying indoors. And as you contemplate the coming arrival of spring (it’s just around the corner!), you may feel like you are coming out of hibernation, a little sluggish and sleepy-eyed, wondering how to get into the swing of things again.
Princess Ivana Pignatelli Aragona Cortes knows how you feel. Realizing that you exist as an individual can come as a shock as you gradually emerge from “newborn fog,” and focusing on personal renewal as you move into life as a mom can feel like a bridge too far.
“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 feel overwhelming,” acknowledges Ivana, who is 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. “Don’t get hung up on the idea of major overhaul; take small steps instead. Little changes can make a surprisingly big impact. 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.”
Ivana points out that spring, which is naturally a time of growth, change, and renewal, is a wonderful time to start freshening yourself up.
“Start to plan some spring resolutions,” she recommends. “For me, they make more sense than New Year’s resolutions because springtime is what really feels like the new year. With more hours of sunlight, warmer weather, and vibrant colors to brighten your days, you’ll naturally feel more energized and motivated to refresh yourself and re-enter the world, baby in tow.”
Here are nine of Ivana’s spring resolutions that will help make your winter doldrums a thing of the past while you begin to blossom as a mom:
Take a step (or two, or three, or more!) toward change. If you’re disappointed to see that last spring’s wardrobe doesn’t quite fit the way you want, don’t worry: You’re normal. Most of us tend to put on winter weight in general. (Did you know that you actually need more calories to keep warm in colder weather?) And with a new baby, your body was bound to change shape regardless of the temperature.
“Instead of vowing to start a huge new exercise routine, which, of course, you don’t have time for, I suggest developing a new attitude instead,” Ivana shares. “First, accentuate the positives! Look into the mirror and say, ‘Hey, you’re looking pretty good for the end of the winter.’ Then, start burning calories in baby steps. Promise yourself a ten-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, remember, a ten-minute workout is better than none.
Spring clean your closet. (And be sure to include a dose of color therapy!) If you’ve recently had a baby, then you may be living in wardrobe limbo. 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 drapey, frumpy winter clothes that have been hiding the leftover baby weight. What better time than now to “spring clean” your closet? 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 anymore, even after you’ve reached a goal weight—like that skimpy number you wore on your honeymoon five years ago. Start thinking about ways to reinvent the pieces you keep.
“It’s perfectly okay to go out and buy some new pieces that actually fit you now,” Ivana assures. “Don’t spend the entire spring and summer season in clothes that don’t fit or don’t make you feel good just because you are ‘waiting to lose the weight.’ Invest in some fun new accessories and shoes to spice up existing basics. Trust me; when your clothes fit and you feel put together, you’ll feel more energized and refreshed.
“As you’re punching up your wardrobe with new pieces, bear in mind that colors affect our moods,” Ivana adds. “Whether we had babies or not, most of us have spent the past several months covered up head-to-toe in heavy grays, blacks, and browns.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.”
Get outside and play. Admit it: After short days, cold temperatures, and the need for your schedule to revolve around a newborn, you’re more than ready to leave your house. As soon as possible, take advantage of the warmer weather and longer daylight hours to reconnect with your body.
“Go for walks,” Ivana urges. “Spend more time at the playground with your children. Act like French moms, who have their own playtime on the benches talking with each other, while their kids run wild and are forced to fend for themselves. Amazingly, this works! And remember, in addition to the benefits of getting your body moving, you’ll also be absorbing more vitamin D from the sun. It can help regulate your immune system, boost your mood, and more.”
Try something new you’ve always wanted to do. Whether it’s trying out a dance class or yoga, exploring a new park, or just giving yourself permission to do something you want to do (like hiring a sitter and getting a massage!), put your own desires first every once in awhile. “If you try something new and don’t like it, drop it and find something that’s more your speed,” Ivana comments. “Enjoyment—of life, of yourself, of your surroundings—is the key to springtime renewal.”
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’s a great time to freshen up your diet with healthier choices. Remember, good nutrition affects mood, energy, and beauty.
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 make a weekly or monthly date with your girlfriends—and keep it.
“We moms tend to be overly obligatory to responsibility, and under-obligatory to fun. But without a good dose of fun and laughter, life gets dull, and so do we. Moms, we owe it to ourselves to book fun into our busy schedules.”
Make regular dates for mama maintenance. With a newborn at home 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!
Renew your vow to 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. H2O is good for your skin, muscles, and energy levels, and it can even marginally help your weight-loss efforts. (Of course, the real benefits come from replacing sugary beverages with water.) 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.
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’s the time to reconnect with your significant other and refresh your love. 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.
“If you’re not quite ready to leave your little one with a sitter for date night, set up a candlelight dinner at home, or better yet, take the baby monitor outside for a sunset picnic in the backyard,” Ivana says. “Buy a new dress that makes you feel sexy. Leave your man a love note in his briefcase. More than anything, make a conscious effort to talk about something that doesn’t have to do with the new baby (as hard as that may be!).”
“As the flowers and trees outside your window begin to bloom in the upcoming weeks, make every effort to join them,” Ivana concludes. “When you commit to tackling one small spring resolution at a time, you’ll be well on your way to blooming—both as an individual and as a mom—after welcoming your baby.”
Ivana is the author of the upcoming book A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year, which was cowritten with her mother, Magdalene Smith, and her sister, Marisa Smith. Their blog, Princess Ivana—The Modern Princess, is a blend of humor, practical advice, and lifestyle tips on the essentials. Ivana is also a featured blogger on Modern Mom.
For more information, please visit www.princessivana.com.