Motherhood comes with many life changes. It is perfectly natural to experience emotional highs & lows and feelings of being overwhelmed at times. If you’re at home with small children during what has been an extremely long, difficult winter you’re probably also feeling cooped up and restless on top of all the other emotions that come with being a new mom. This is all very natural, but this week we would like to provide some helpful suggestions to combat “cabin fever” this winter!
Nutrition and exercise are important at any time in life, but they can be especially helpful in improving mood irregularities such as “baby blues” or “winter blues.” Some things that can be helpful to incorporate into your diet during winter are proteins (such as chicken, tofu, green beans, seeds & nuts), B12 (found in eggs, yogurt, lean beef and more), and vitamin D, which can be consumed through things like milk, eggs and mushrooms – or through taking supplements. Before making any major dietary changes or taking supplements you should always consult with your doctor and/or a nutritionist.
Though it may be difficult in this cold weather, it is helpful to try and get outside as much as is realistically possible. Even if it’s not sunny out, any form of natural light is beneficial during these short winter days. A short walk around the block with the baby in the stroller will help to stave off winter blues caused by lack of exposure to natural light – and it is a great form of exercise!
Some days, however, it might just be too cold out – both for you and the baby! In this case, try to spend some time in the room in your house that gets the most natural light and soak up those happy rays! You can even try to do some simple exercises in that room, if possible. Youtube is a great resource for finding helpful exercise videos that will fill your daily quote of physical activity. There are many options, but these are two we’d like to recommend!
This ab workout from the ModernMom youtube channel will help you to tone and build muscle, but it is geared towards new moms. Recovering from childbirth is a big deal for your body, so it is important not to cause any excessive physical strain that may cause pain or injury. These exercises are sure to get your body moving, but they will be realistic to the needs of your recovering body.
The CafeMom Studios youtube channel has created a great cardio workout. This will help to raise your heart-rate which will give you more energy throughout the day, as well as allow you to relieve stress!
The best thing about these simple, video exercises is that they can be done indoors in the privacy of your own home when this bitter winter cold prevents going outdoors, they’re free, and they can be done either while your baby is sleeping or engaged in playtime or tummy time nearby.
It is just as important to take care of yourself emotionally during these times as it is to watch diet and exercise. Adjusting to bringing home your bundle of joy is a major and sometimes difficult task. Feeling tired, overwhelmed, and sad is not uncommon. “Baby blues” can be caused by hormone shifts as your body adjusts after giving birth. It is important to get lots of rest and relaxation, and surround yourself with people you love and who can support you. Sometimes allowing someone to help with errands or childcare can give you the time to take a much-needed nap, or just give yourself some time alone to relax and calm your mind. However, sometimes “baby blues” can persist and develop into something more serious. Post-partum depression, while not uncommon, can be very difficult to deal with on your own. If you are feeling longer, more intense feelings of sadness, or feel hopeless you should talk to a doctor immediately, as post-partum depression is serious and a doctor will be able to discuss which treatment plan is best for your needs.
Finding things to look forward to throughout the day is important to emotional wellbeing in times when it is easy to feel overwhelmed – especially when bringing home a new baby in the winter when it is more difficult to find things to do outside of the house. Rewarding yourself with things like a relaxing hot bath, or a cup of herbal tea and a book can help make even the longest of days seem a little bit brighter. You can also take up a hobby, such as knitting, painting, origami, puzzles or scrapbooking! These are all great options because they engage your mind and are participatory activities that will engage you, rather than passive activities that will allow your mind to wander to the things that are troubling you. Scrapbooking, for example, will not only allow you to keep busy – but it will also give you a chance to record those precious firsts that your child will experience. It will allow you to be creative and will be something that you can look back on fondly. As your child grows they can even begin to help you with this special activity so that it is not only a way for you to be creative, but also a way to bond with your little one.
A great reward on any day, but especially a really cold day, is a hot and relaxing bath. You can take this time to completely relax your mind and body, and pamper yourself! Bath bombs are a fun way to add relaxing scents and colours to your bath! They can be bought at different retailers, such as LUSH (http://www.lush.ca/Bath-Bombs/bath-bombs,en_CA,sc.html) but they can also be a fun DIY activity for you to do on a long winter day!
DIY Bath Bomb Tutorial: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-Bath-Bombs/?ALLSTEPS
This great tutorial offers step-by-step instructions as well as images so that you can make your own bath bomb creations! This will help accomplish both finding a fun hobby AND letting yourself relax by rewarding yourself with a calming activity.
The city of Toronto also has several great resources for fun activities that you can do with your baby.
“Art Strollers” is a great program that offers free walking tours of galleries for moms with babies in Toronto. You can bring your little one to a space where you can enjoy art and culture with other new parents who are going through the same challenges as you! You can even bring a friend, or meet new people! This is a great way to do something that is once again active and engaging for your mind and is an opportunity for you to get out of the house!
lil’ bean n green Café is located at 1133 Queen St. East – but it is not just any café. With a spacious play area, lil’ bean n’ green is a place where parents can bring their children to play while they relax with a cup of coffee or tea, chat with friends or new people and get a chance to relax and recharge their batteries. They even allow parents to use their space for special events such as birthday parties or Mommy-and-Daddy meet-ups! Whether you go alone or with a friend, this child friendly café is the perfect place to get social interaction with a group of people who understand the challenges of having a young child out in public – so there won’t be any judgment of a fussing baby or an active and energetic child.
Here at balafant boutik we also offer events that you can participate in to get out of the house. Every Thursday at 11:45 AM and Saturday at 11:30 AM we have story times – if you’re feeling cooped up and need something to do just for a little while, feel free to bring your little one by and we will read them a story while you take a minute to unwind! We also offer arts & crafts classes every Friday at 11:45 AM and Sunday at 3:30 PM. You can bring your child to participate in fun, engaging activities, which are completely free! We would love to see you!
Long, cold winters are hard on everyone – but when you are a new mom they can be unusually tough. We hope that these suggestions are helpful to you when you are feeling restless or overwhelmed. The most important thing to keep in mind is that being a parent involves a nearly endless list of responsibilities, and no person is an island! It is perfectly natural to feel negative emotions when faced with so much at once – so don’t be too hard on yourself, and reward yourself! You deserve it.