With kids out of school, self-care can feel even more elusive than usual. Making sure it happens often comes down to two things moms are great at: multitasking and flexibility.
You’ve finally gotten into the swing of things with your kiddos and workout routine, and then summer hits. Depending on daycare or summer camps, you might find that you’re suddenly on the hook for more childcare. While the pool, library, and the park are all fun excursions, there’s not so much time leftover for mom to sneak away to her workout corner.
Self-care is always important, but especially so for pregnant or postpartum mamas. Postpartum depression [PPD] is, well, depressingly common. In the United States, 1 in 7 women develops PPD in the months after giving birth. And while we definitely recommend seeing your doctor if you are having any symptoms of PPD, the link between exercise and mental health is well-documented.
Especially with hormones raging and your body either growing a baby or recovering from bringing one earthside - exercise is often the one thing that helps keep you feeling balanced, reduces stress, and can ease the symptoms of postpartum depression.
So how do you adapt your workout routine to fit the summer schedule? Here are some of our self-care ideas to help keep you active (and sane!) while simultaneously managing even more mom duties.
Bloom’s 5 Top Tips for Self-Care this Summer
1) Workout with intention (and flexibility!)
When we’re busy and sleep-deprived, all too often exercise is the first thing to go by the wayside. Even if you only have a half-hour, a short workout can work wonders. Just because your workout is brief doesn’t mean it’s not effective - in fact, it’s often quite the opposite.
When you only have time for a short workout, chances are you’re willing to work harder. Being super focused with your workout window gives you more bang for your buck - in under 30 minutes, you can get your heart rate up, break a sweat, and boost your mood.
Of course, it’s also important to be flexible. So maybe it’s best if you just stay in your yoga pants all day. That way you can capitalize on your workout window, whenever it manifests. You wanted another reason not to stay in yoga pants all day, right?
If you need some inspiration, Studio Bloom also has dozens of express classes that you can mix and match to suit your mood (not only that, but most of our workouts are 30 minutes or less). Leg day? We can help you feel the fire in your quads. Want an upper body workout? We’ve got your back.
Follow us on IG for more short workout inspiration, like this booty burn with Bloom coach Charlene:
2) Play with your kids in a way that gets you both tired.
Moms are the masters of multitasking. While this is not always for the better, when it comes to you and your kiddos both getting some exercise, there’s really not a downside. If you’ve got a wriggly baby, perhaps they’d enjoy a bouncy chair while you do some lunges. Or maybe it’s using your babe as a weight while squatting.
Simpler and perhaps more “zen” - pop baby in a stroller and head out for a walk. Speaking of multi-tasking, Our Bloom on the Go audios are a great way to practice re-patterning your core connection while you are out and about. There are few things better for your mental health than sunshine and exercise, so head outdoors if you can for some Vitamin D and endorphins!
Going to the park? Throw some free weights in the car along with your yoga mat. While your little one is playing on the jungle gym, you can do a short workout circuit. If you don’t have any equipment, try some bodyweight exercises like jump squats, burpees, and push-ups.
3) Find time for just a few minutes of meditation.
A regular meditation practice comes along with a whole host of benefits, and it doesn’t take a huge time commitment. Meditation has been proven to lower stress levels, reduce the symptoms of depression and make you more productive by improving your ability to pay attention. It’s even been shown to increase grey matter density in the brain.
Studies have shown that it just takes a few minutes a day to start seeing benefits. As mamas, it can be really difficult to quiet the “chatter” in our brains, and stop from obsessively thinking about whether or not the baby has pooped, what color and consistency the poop was, if it was normal, if they are sleeping too much, if they are sleeping too little, and so on.
What mama couldn’t use a bit more mindfulness to help deal with the stress of having a new baby or toddler in the house?! If you need help getting started, Studio Bloom has several mama-focused meditations to choose from, starting at just three minutes long.
4) Eat the rainbow.
Food is another place where we tend to take shortcuts when we’re busy, and a combination of poor food choices and inadequate sleep leads to stress and short tempers. Research supports eating a plant-rich diet and focusing on local, organic, and grass-fed meat and dairy when you can.
It’s probably not practical or realistic for every meal to be 100% from scratch, so maybe you aim to make a home-cooked dinner every day that emphasizes whole foods and vegetables. Instead of focusing on making each meal absolutely perfect, think about getting good representation from all the food groups, throughout the day.
Some other ideas:
Snack attack. When possible, buy healthy snacks that both you and the kids like.
Blend it! When you’re on the go a lot, making yourself a smoothie with a healthy scoop of protein powder and some nut butter can get you a big dose of fruits and vegetables, and have enough protein and fat to keep you full.
Divide and conquer. Share food responsibilities with your partner if possible. Splitting up tasks like meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking and taking responsibility for those parts you like the best is a recipe for success. Pun intended!
There’s nothing wrong with dino nuggets for dinner every once in a while, but highly processed food can become a crutch that we lean on a little too heavily. It may be super convenient in the short term, but it can rob you of the energy you need to get through the day.
5) Practice nap efficiency
New parents commonly get advised to “sleep when the baby sleeps,” but this can be really difficult to put into practice. Maybe your to-do list is a mile long, maybe you really need a shower, or maybe you just need some time to decompress.
Using your baby’s nap time efficiently is unique to you and what you need that day. Make a prioritized list of what you’d like to get done, keeping in mind roughly how long your baby sleeps. If you want to get outside for a walk or run and your baby tends to sleep in the stroller, plan your outing around nap time.
Bloom Method founder, Brooke Cates, is a big fan of nap time workouts and can commonly be found powering through circuits (and dreaming up new Bloom workouts!) in her living room while her little one sleeps. “For me, if it doesn’t happen during nap time - it probably doesn’t happen!”
Even then, it’s important to be flexible when your LO wakes up early from their nap and be prepared to adapt what you’re doing to include them (what’s that we were saying about moms being the best multitaskers?!).
If you do need some shut-eye, studies show that 10 to 20 minutes is enough to provide restorative sleep, and keep you from feeling tired when you wake up. Setting an alarm is key, as is creating a quiet, relaxing sleep environment. If you find yourself with a busy mom brain, unable to shut down even though you know a nap would do you good, consider pairing a 10-minute meditation with a 20-minute nap.
We know prioritizing self-care is easier said than done. But remember, in order to care for your little one(s) you need to care for yourself. Getting that time to sweat, bask in some sunshine, or have a good meal will nourish you in more ways than one, and help you be the best version of “mom” - no matter what else the day throws at you.