Recently a girlfriend who had a baby six months prior to me was telling me how she felt that she had lost her "sparkle" since becoming a mom. We were having coffee and I knew exactly what she was talking about as I sat there in my yoga pants and spit-up stained top, no makeup and hair in a pony tail. As a new mom, there never seems to be enough hours in the day to do the laundry, cook the meals, clean the house, all while caring for baby, let alone take care of yourself in the way you did prior to baby.
Let's be honest here, you are not going to get that time back to yourself for a few years but there are things you can do at home to pamper yourself and regain your "sparkle." Here are my tips:
Chances are you submerge your hands in water two or three times more than ever before, from baths, diaper changes, face washing, etc. Your hands take a beating and to top it off, you no longer have to time to pop out for a manicure. Try to preserve what you have and wear rubber gloves when you do the dishes. I recently discovered long rubber gloves that go up to the elbow - truly excellent! Treat yourself to a nice soap and have one in your bathroom, kitchen and half-bath (really anywhere that you wash your hands). In addition to a nice soap, buy a quality lotion (note: quality doesn't mean expensive, choose something that makes your skin feel good) and keep a bottle beside your kitchen sink. Now when you go to wash the dishes slather on a thick layer of lotion and pop you gloves on. There is something about the heat of the water and the lotion in the glove that works magic. When you pull your hands out they will feel like new.
Like your hands, your feet also take a beating throughout the day and if you can't fit a manicure in, you most certainly won't have time for a spa pedicure. If you can't get your partner to give you a daily foot rub. Treat yourself to a great pair of socks and a foot cream. Before bed apply the lotion, socks and sleep. In the morning your skin will be well hydrated. If you are not a fan of sleeping with socks on do this during the day when you are running about the house. If you spend a lot of time wearing shoes, go to the drugstore and pick up a pair of insoles. There are so many inexpensive but good quality insoles available it eliminates the need to run out and buy an expensive pair of shoes.
Don't cut your own, pay for a good low maintenance cut at a local salon. If you are brave and like getting a deal like me, you can try coloring your own. I always used to spend hundreds of dollars and hours in the salon chair getting highlights and lowlights but now I spend about $10 (sometimes less if I have a coupon) and 25 minutes in my bathroom getting a solid color. When baby goes to bed, I slip out of my clothes and into my robe, follow package instructions and wait 25 minutes. I often will place a shower-cap over my head (in case I need to get baby) and so I can move about without getting dye everywhere. Although it is not relaxing, I often will take this 25 minutes to clean my bathroom, top to bottom. I then take 5 to 10 minutes to relax in a freshly cleaned shower as I rinse out the dye.
If you don't want to color your own hair try giving yourself a deep conditioning treatment. You can pick up deep conditioner at any drugstore, some even have packs that are the one-time-use type. Again, when baby is in bed or if your partner is kind enough to take him or her, get in the shower and steam, apply your conditioner and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes while you wash and unwind. After you rinse take the time to blow-dry and your hair will feel like silk.
My daily showers had been cut down to about 5 minutes if I was lucky in the morning. That was until I discovered the bouncy chair. I now place baby in the bouncy chair which also vibrates and she will sit contented it the bathroom while I go about my business. The bouncy chair is a lifesaver, if you don't have one, get one. Also go out and get a body scrub. I personally like a salt scrub but some prefer sugar. Prior to turning on the shower start at your shoulders and rub the scrub all over moving in the direction of your heart (this promotes good circulation), work all the way down to your feet. Beware: if your scrub has oils in it, it will get slippery. Rinse yourself thoroughly and apply lotion post shower. Your skin will feel like never before.
If your skin is sensitive and you are not into scrubs, try going for a run or a walk and working up a good sweat. The exercise will release endorphins which will naturally make you feel better, Baby will be happy to be outside and when you get home, have a bottle of water and shower and you will feel so refreshed.
The face is a small area but there are a ton of things that can be done here to make you feel like you have your "sparkle" back.
It sounds simple but when you have a new baby your routine gets cut down, brush and floss your teeth. If you feel like getting crazy, follow with a gargle of mouthwash. Even crazier, try whitening with whitestrips or naturally brush with a little baking soda.
Have a home facial. Cleanse your face and turn on the tap to hot and lean over the sink with a towel tenting your head, steam for a few minutes, tone and hydrate. To make it feel like a spa treatment try applying your lotion with a retired makeup brush or apply a face mask in between steps in the same way. You will restore your glow in just a few minutes.
Get your brows shaped professionally or do them yourself. If you choose to do them yourself you will need a good pair of tweezers and a mirror. The key is to pick a shape that frames your eye, take your time and do not over pluck.
Hit up the makeup counter at your local department store and have somebody apply your makeup for you. This won't cost you anything unless you purchase the product and you will get a chance to try something outside of your everyday.
Turn down the bathroom lights, light some candles and hop in the tub. To enhance the experience infuse the tub with your favorite scent of bubble bath and pop in your ipod headphones with your favorite playlist.
Pour yourself a glass of wine or a cocktail and watch your favorite episode of Sex and the City. If you are not a fan, try watching something light and funny on Youtube.
Read a book or magazine. Since you became a Mom, when was the last time you picked up a Cosmo or People magazine? The beauty of reading a magazine is if you are interrupted you can easily pick up where you left off or start over. During the day I sometimes read a magazine out loud to my baby - she doesn't know the difference between the latest gossip and Old MacDonald had a Farm. In fact, the words and stimulation won't hurt.
Bake and ice cupcakes - you know the ones that come in a box mix. This may not sound relaxing to some but it puts me in a great mood. The house will be filled with yummy baking smells, you and your partner (if he is lucky) will get to enjoy your delicious creations. If baking is not your thing, try making your own sundae. Pick up ice cream and all the toppings on your regular trip to the grocery store. A sundae is a great accompaniment to your favorite show.
Take a nap. When baby sleeps, you should sleep. The laundry can get folded later, the dishes aren't going anywhere and the floors will just get dirty again. Put on your pjs and get under the covers.