There are a number of benefits for you, if you can get out of the house and into the sunshine and “fresh” air — if you live in the city truly fresh air may be hard to come by, but at least it’s also a change of scenery for you as well. Here are a few of the benefits to getting out of the home
- Sunshine – Exposure to sunlight helps your body produce Vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that our bodies require to absorb calcium and which strengthens our bones. For the same reason, Vitamin D is also essential for your baby’s growth and development, although if your baby is formula fed you will likely find the formula has vitamin D in it. Have a look at the Cancer Council website for their recommendations on how much sun is needed. Getting your baby out into the sunlight can also help to regulate their sleeping patterns. The body’s circadian rhythms are regulated by sunlight. So if your baby is still sleeping more during the day and less at night, then this could help switch their body clock around which will in turn, help you. Getting out during the day and into the sunlight can also help you sleep better at night as it will help your sleep patterns as well.
- Getting your body moving – This doesn’t need to be an exercise class or anything else that organised, it can be just a 20 – 30 min walk, if you walk outside in the sun you can kill to birds with one stone! Something really is better than nothing in this case. Not only does this get the heart rate going improving your blood circulation (helping improve the delivery of nutrients around your body) and get your lymphatic system moving (helping in waste removal) it also releases some good little hormones called endorphins, that will help lift your mood and help you feel better!
- Socialising – Being able to have a conversation with an adult can help you feel like more than a Mother to a baby and can open your mind to what is happening in the world, which can be a refreshing change on its own. If you are talking to another Mother of a young baby, you can share stories and be reassured that you are not alone. Most Mothers will have similar stories to yours and it can be very comforting during the difficult times that it’s not just you and your baby working through this. If however, you do find — after talking to others — that your situation does seem a little different, then this can be a positive for you as well. It can identify an area where you can seek some help from a Parental support service or a medical professional. If you are able to identify areas of concern and work to resolve any issues, it can only help you and your baby in the long term.
- Change your surroundings – Briefly changing your surroundings can help you gain a different perspective. Much like if you are trying to solve a problem when you’re tired, if you walk away, do something different and come back to it, you will often see things differently and feel a little better about it. If you were feeling overwhelmed before going out, it may not seem so overwhelming or daunting when you return home. You can even take your baby with you (even if its baby that is ), you don’t have to find a babysitter, the change of environment may also help settle bub if they are having a moment. Try going for a walk outside – you can change the location for added variety (dare I say 3 birds with 1 stone!!), go for a cruise around some local shops, take yourself to a nice coffee shop or arrange a catch up with friends and/or other Mums.
I will be honest and say that sometimes getting out the door can seem more challenging than just staying at home. When I had my eldest son we lived in a 3rd floor apartment with 6 flights of stairs. I had to be organised and really plan leaving the house, because if I forgot something I had to go back up those stairs carrying him – I just didn’t have the will or energy to do that any more than was absolutely necessary. I now have 3 kids, my youngest is 1, eldest is 6. I’m not sure if it easier or harder to get out the door as they get older. Sure, they can walk themselves out the door now, but with age comes opinions and endless questions about what we’re doing or where we’re going (that apparently can’t wait until we get out the door), what toys they can bring and selective hearing. But let me say that once I am out to door with them, I’m on my way and free from the house. Getting everything organised and actually getting out the door can seem like a mammoth size task. It may not seem like its worth the effort. For the reasons I have outlined it can be good for you. And in my opinion, and hopefully yours, your wellbeing and sanity is worth the effort it takes to get out the door!
If you would like some professional parenting support and advice you may find these resources useful:
- Tresillian (NSW) – There are a number of useful online resources available to parents, including tip sheets that cover various topics such as settling, teething, activities, etc.
- Perinatal Anxiety and Depression (PANDA) – a great resource with useful fact sheets for education, awareness and information on recovery from postnatal depression.
- Families NSW Parenting – List of services for parents and families