"I set my alarm for 4.30am to get exercise." How my mum friends and I make time for self-care.

Colgate Optic White®
Thanks to our brand partner, Colgate Optic White®

Finding ‘me time’ as a new mum can be tricky business.

Particularly in the first few months, or the ‘Fourth Trimester’ as it’s affectionately known, the only thing you want to do when you have a minute is sleep, eat and shower.

As the fog slowly starts to lift you might throw some other activities in: a haircut, a nail appointment, a brunch with friends. Sometimes, it could be a simple trip to get groceries – anything for some alone time.

So, finding ‘me time’ when the usual options are somewhat limited thanks to COVID-19, can be even harder. Everyone’s stuck at home, so for mums, particularly new mums on maternity leave it can be hard to draw the line and get the break you so desperately need so you can recharge and feel your confident self.

I asked some new and ‘old’ mums in my life how they carved out some time in their day to look after themselves and here’s what I learnt.

Your bathroom time is sacred.

From the minute I brought my son home, one thing has stayed the same: I never miss a shower. During the week, I set my alarm and make sure I’m in the shower while my husband is still home.

To save time, I brush my teeth in there to make the most of the time I have. I somewhat neglected my teeth during pregnancy – I was midway through Invisalign treatment and stopped wearing them as they got in the way of my hourly intake of Mylanta tablets (hello, heartburn).

Now that I am wearing them again, I am enjoying really looking after my teeth. My teeth are really sensitive so I was always cautious of whitening treatments yet wanted to brighten my teeth after years of drinking way too many coffees (and until more recently, espresso martinis), which is why using Colgate Optic White Renewal whitening toothpaste has been a lifesaver. It works like this: you brush twice daily for four weeks, and it removes 10 years of yellow stains. So much easier than making a whitening appointment I don’t have time for!

“I am really enjoying looking after my teeth.” Image: Supplied.

It's enamel safe, and it's the only toothpaste to have hydrogen peroxide, the whitening ingredient dentists use to remove stains. I already feel better about my smile, just by popping this into my bathroom routine.

I'm not the only one who sees my bathroom as my special place for 'me time'. So many of the mums I've spoken to have mentioned how much they look forward to their daily showers (oh, the exciting lives we lead!).

"With my first son Harry, my husband would do the dinner, bed and bath routine and I would head to the gym or pool for an hour at night," Nicky tells me. "However, since my second son Lucas was born a few weeks ago, my self care is SLEEP and I make sure I have a nice long hot bath or shower each night."

Olivia says, "I will also listen to my favourite songs in the shower. This helps especially if my daughter Ariel is grumpy with her father and actually gives me a mental break."

People will do almost anything to fit in some form of exercise.

Granted, it’s one of the very few things we are allowed to do at the moment, but what some mothers are doing to fit it into their day is truly remarkable.

"When my son Carter was a newborn, my wife and I would get up at 4.45am before he woke and do boxing in our front room with socks over the gloves so as not to wake him just so we could exercise together!" Kate tells me.

"Now that we have three kids (four, two and a half, and nine months), I set the two boys up on their fold out lounges with their iPads so I can squeeze in a workout while Frankie is sleeping."

Image Supplied: Kate, Prue and their 3 children.

Rachel is also an early riser. "I set my alarm for 4:30am so I can get some exercise in before anyone is awake, so it’s just me," Rachel says. "There is such a nice energy in the morning before the sun comes up and it’s so peaceful and no one is trying to talk to me. My daughter wakes up at 6am so it gives me an opportunity to get set for the day."


Zhao Zhao is a fan of a quick hit of HIIT - high-intensity interval training. "My son Julian (four months) is catnapping at the moment so I find it hard to get through any of the longer online classes, so I found an old picnic blanket and have devised a quick HIIT workout that I do while he watches me on the blanket," she says.

Image supplied: Julian chilling while his mum Zhao Zhao, gets in a HIIT workout.

Make time for your hobbies (or to do absolutely nothing).

My current hobby is binge watching One Tree Hill. In the weeks when I was spending hours attached to a breast pump, I would watch episodes of Grey’s Anatomy to ‘treat myself’. I would also listen to Mamamia Out Loud and This Glorious Mess at all of the 3am feeds. It made me feel less alone. Now that my son is almost five months old and falling into more of a predictable routine, I give myself permission to do whatever I want for at least one of his four naps.

Chloe has a similar idea to me. "I love to sit down with a cup of tea and do something creative - scrapbook, bake, puzzles," she tells me. "I’m about to learn cross stitching. Or long baths and watch something on Netflix while my husband looks after Ollie."

Image Supplied: Chloe and Ollie.

Caitlin enjoys the pleasures of a simple brew: "I make my coffee to enjoy while breastfeeding and I watch Netflix on my phone through headphones."

For Krystal, it's all about little breaks - or micro pauses. "As a busy mum, I’ve learned to take self care in the micro pauses during day to day life," she explains. "I’ll listen to a podcast while making lunch, I’ll play music and bop along while putting on my makeup. The biggest help for living with less stress has been having a routine. It’s helped us both grow to respect each other’s boundaries and need for me time, she has discovered her own interests like technology and art which are self directed and she loves to do on her own!"

Image supplied: Krystal and Navi.

Too many of us aren’t making time for ourselves.

Something I noticed when asking mums what they do for self care, is that SO MANY of them struggled to answer, or find pictures of themselves with their kids.

Schedule it in if it means it gets done - I know it’s tempting to pump, sterilise, puree and mash.

I still roll my eyes when I hear “sleep when the baby sleeps” because there is so much to do - a huge to-do list.

The thing is, the list will always be there. But one thing that'll help it go by smoother is scheduling some time in for ourselves, so we can feel confident, relaxed and fully 'ourselves' while we nurture young humans to become themselves.

How do you make time for self-care in your routine? Share with us below.

Feature image: Nicolle and Hudson; Krystal and Navi. Supplied.

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