Is your body properly prepared for parenthood? Creating a little life takes a lot of time, stamina, and family planning. And once your schedule becomes stacked with late-night feedings and deciphering your baby’s coos, it’s easy to forget about your own self-care practices and sanity.

With all things baby on the brain, you may even forget the last time you washed your hair or changed your clothes.

While devoting your days and nights to your baby is a delight, it’s also important to remember that you must still dedicate adequate time for yourself, too. This week, you will learn easy ways to establish realistic and manageable methods for staying strong and sane during the early years of parenthood.

Be kind to yourself. One of the initial hurdles new moms encounter is how to lose those pesky post-pregnancy pounds. Whether this desire stems from your own personal goals or from the social pressures of others, bouncing back to your pre-baby body requires time and patience.

The process of developing and delivering a baby is traumatic on the body. And whether this is your first or fourth child, it’s important to be kind to yourself by allowing ample time to heal and adjust to this new phase. Try to avoid comparing yourself to other moms or conforming to what others think you should be doing. You are far more likely to embrace healthy habits and heal at a safe pace by speaking to yourself with a kind inner voice.

Snack attack. As your baby’s plate progresses from pureed peas and carrots to more tempting treats such as macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets, you may find it difficult to not devour these luring leftovers. If your pantry is packed with pound-promoting snacks, it will be challenging to not dig into these childhood favorites — especially when you are strapped for time or stuck in the house.

One simple way to ward off unwanted weight gain is to practice portion control. No one expects you to channel your inner Julia Child by whipping up Food Network-worthy dishes. But rather, try to stock up on sensible snacks and heart-healthy dishes you can feel good about. While hot dogs and Kraft dinners are easy to whip up, get your kids in the habit of enjoying healthier options such as grilled lean meats, steamed veggies, or a modified mac and cheese that incorporates vegetables.

When portioning out plates, fill your child’s dish and refrigerate or freeze the rest immediately to avoid the temptation of digging in yourself. Extra calories here and there add up in a big way. And if your child is in the nursing phase, cook your meals on a Sunday night and wrap them up for the week ahead for a quick, healthy option when on the go.

Schedule self-care time. Until your kids are older, your schedule is not your own, so the luxury of breaking away for some much needed personal time may seem impossible. Don’t be afraid to call on family, friends, or neighbors to watch your kiddo so you can go for a walk, squeeze in a workout, reserve time with your significant other, or even take a nap. Find little ways to reconnect with your pre-kid self.

Work out when you can. Chasing your children around the house, or lifting a newborn up and down, can feel like the ultimate fitness routine. When you’re constantly on the go, it’s easy to let yourself off the healthy habit hook. But one creative way to still work out is by making aerobics a family affair. Try these family-friendly fitness options on your own, with your spouse, or with the kids.

Note: These exercises are intended to be performed at least three months post-delivery, after you have been cleared by your physician for exercise.

Bird dog

  • Begin on all fours with your shoulders stacked above hands and hips over knees.
  • Extend your right arm and left leg so they are in line with your back. Hold for two counts, then release and switch sides. Repeat for a total of 20 repetitions (10 per side).
Ashley Greenblatt demonstrates a bird dog in this 2018 file photo.
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley Greenblatt demonstrates a bird dog in this 2018 file photo.

Baby bends

  • Hold your baby (or a weighted object) close to your chest.
  • With your weight in your heels, hinge back at your hips and lower until your thighs are about parallel to the floor. Hold for two counts then push through your heels to stand. Repeat 10 times.
Ashley Greenblatt demonstrates the baby bend exercise with her 1-month-old son.
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley Greenblatt demonstrates the baby bend exercise with her 1-month-old son.

Newborn high knees

  • Hold your baby or weighted object close to your chest. Brace your abs by tucking your tailbone in and sucking your belly button in toward your spine.
  • When ready, elevate your baby overhead. As you bring your arms down, pull your right knee up to meet them. Then repeat with your left leg. Continue this sequence for 20 total repetitions (10 per side).

Relay race

  • Step outside and find a starting line marker such as a tree or mailbox, or by placing an object on the ground, then identify a finish line marker 20 to 30 feet away.
  • Run quickly toward the finish line. When you reach it, carefully jog backward to your starting spot. Repeat three times. If performing with children, tag each other in once the course is completed to make it a competition.

Ashley Blake Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach in South Jersey. To learn more about her virtual training program, go to ashleyblakefitness.com.