Pamper yourself After her first baby was born, Maureen Carey of Chicago made it a point to have a shower, get dressed and put on makeup first thing each day. Carey brought son Simon into the bathroom in his bouncer and strung toys from a cabinet to keep him occupied while she relaxed in the shower. “If you don’t make the effort,” she says, “you’ll be in your pajamas all day.” Some moms make sure to get up before baby just to have time to themselves.
Sing It’s guaranteed to soothe both you and your baby, says Deborah Raoult, co-director of the Center for Aplomb and Yoga in Rochester, N.Y. “You’re breathing in deeply, so you feel calmer — and more energized.”
Buy a good breast pump An efficient electric breast pump lets you get out on your own without worrying that your baby will be hungry. “I made sure there was breast milk in the fridge and freezer,” says Linda Sundlin of Los Angeles. “That way, my husband could feed the baby if I just had to have a full night’s sleep.”
Go on a date with your husband Whether it’s dinner, a movie or a stroll around the block, don’t neglect your spouse, says Gayle Peterson, Ph.D, a Berkeley, Calif., psychotherapist who counsels new parents on the Web site parentsplace.com. “Your marriage is the garden in which your baby is growing. Keeping it healthy is important for all of you.”
Go on a date with friends “I do a girls’ night out with a group of moms,” says Karen Ohlson of Oakland, Calif. “The dads watch the kids, and we go out, have fun and let off steam.”
Savor every day “There’s only one really important thing to focus on,” says Stacey Marien of Chapel Hill, N.C., “and that’s your baby. They grow up so fast. Why worry about anything else?”
Keep it simple “I spent most of my time feeling guilty because I wasn’t getting anything done,” admits Jacquelyn Zaremba of Louisville, Colo., remembering the first few months of her daughter’s life. “After a while, I scaled my plans way back and started feeling much better.”
Snuggle with your baby Jane Ross of Austin, Texas, took the old advice “nap when you baby naps” one step further by bedding down with her daughter at naptime. According to breastfeeding advocacy group La Leche League International, she had the right idea. “Napping with your baby is one of the best things a nursing mom can do,” says the League’s Carol Huotari. “It gives the baby more opportunities to nurse, so you know she’s getting plenty of nourishment, and you’re stimulating your milk supply at the same time.”