by Kathryn E. Livingston

How New Moms Can Balance Life & Love After Baby

Learn keys to finding some 'we' time and 'me' time as a new mom

Naturally, nothing matches a new mom's love for her baby. But when you've totally given up on romance, work is a nightmare, and your personal interests seem like distant memories, it's time for a balance check.

Time management is a major issue for new moms, says Maryann Troiani, Ph.D., co-author of Spontaneous Optimism: Proven Strategies for Health, Prosperity & Happiness.

"The first complaint I often hear from new moms is that they feel their time is bankrupt. They're always trying to beat the clock and just can't keep up with the demands of their new situation."

"Nobody can do any job 24 hours a day. All moms need some time off to do other things," adds Susan Heitler, Ph.D., author of The Power of Two: Secrets of a Strong and Loving Marriage.

"Operate from the inside out," says Heitler. "If you're depressed or stressed, none of the other pieces will work. It's just like when you're on an airplane: If there's a shortage of oxygen, you're told to put the mask on yourself first because you can't help others if you're not breathing!"

Here's how can new moms find a better balance

Make Love a Priority

Research shows that when couples enjoy loving, happy, optimistic lives together, they're more likely to raise emotionally stable children, says Troiani. Attention, appreciation, and affection toward your partner enhances your baby's emotional environment. That doesn't mean you need to plan a complicated, romantic getaway; the balance can be as simple as turning off the TV and spending an hour with your mate chatting over a glass of wine or a cup of tea.

Ease Back Into a Working Schedule

Instead of plunging into a full-time workday, try to build some balance into the transition. "Take one small step at a time," advises Troiani. "Women who put a lot of energy into their baby and then try to put just as much into work will just drain their batteries dry." If possible, ease back into work; try two or three days to start, or ask if you can work at home for part of the week.

Make Time for You

For some women, feeling good about their bodies is important, so that may mean putting your baby in a sports/health club child care for an hour a day. Other new moms might prefer to read a book, play the piano, get together with a friend for lunch or get involved in community service.

Enlist Dad

Or a neighbor, that college kid down the street, a close friend, a relative. But try to discover a way to have some personal time, even if it means spending your baby's naptime reading Sense and Sensibility instead of mopping the floor. "Your unique balance is what works," says Heitler, "and the test of a good balance is your emotional state."

Organize Your New Mom Priorities

To balance your time, make a list of 10 important things you want to accomplish in a given day, advises Heitler, then ignore the last eight, focusing on the top two. Don't forget that the special time you spend with your blossoming baby counts as an accomplishment too.

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Woman to Woman: "How New Moms Can Balance Life & Love After Baby"