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13 Ways New Moms Can Get Their Mojo Back after Having a Baby

A new study says it takes over three years for a woman's self-esteem to rebound after the birth of a baby. The idea of waiting till preschool to feel good again is more nauseating than the first trimester of pregnancy—here's how to speed up the process of reclaiming your mom mojo.

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Mom’s egos take a nose dive

A new study from the Netherlands has found that women experience a serious decline in self-esteem during pregnancy, which may not sound shocking, but the study also found that the self-esteem levels continue to drop until their child is around three years old. By the time her child turns three, self-esteem levels are far below the levels they were pre-pregnancy. If you’re thinking the study must’ve been from a small sampling of women, think again—around 84,000 women were studied over roughly a decade, and the main takeaway here is that women deserve to feel better about themselves. We spoke to a bunch of veteran moms to get the often unspoken details about how to reclaim your mojo after motherhood. (Here are some new mom myths that you need to stop believing ASAP.)

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Make time for your personal appearance

Bodies change, wardrobes change, but some moms feel like their mojo comes back when they look in the mirror and see some semblance of the woman they used to be before kids. “After four kids in four years, I make sure to do my nails and hair blowouts,” shares Felissa Benjamin Allard. “When I look like my pre-baby self, I feel better. It may seem self-indulgent but it’s my hour a week of me time when no one is pulling at me, asking me something inane, watching me, or drooling on me. We moms take care of everyone all day every day so it’s okay to take care of ourselves once in a while, too.”

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Do more of what you love

Sure, what you love is your child, but you also loved adult things before you were called “Mom.” Emily Farris, a crafting blogger, found that her artistic passion gave her gratification and self-esteem when she needed it most. “What really helped me was starting a fun new craft and cocktail blog. I’ve always been most proud of my work, so creating a project that was just me sharing beautiful pictures of my favorite things did the absolute most to make me feel like myself again.” Here are 10 simple steps to finding the hobby thats right for you.

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Lean on the right people for help

Sometimes parenting and life in general can be hard to navigate. Couple that with the crippling effect on self-esteem motherhood already has, and it can be a recipe for some pretty serious emotions. Rachel Sokol Slavin says she has so much more mojo now thanks to relying on a good therapist, and thinks this is a major-league secret recipe for the success of many other moms, too. “If we’re being really honest, I continued with therapy to do whatever I could do to get through bouts of depression, loneliness, exhaustion, and yes, postpartum. Even if I had to do phone sessions with my former therapist, they helped me feel human again and reminded me that my mixed bag of emotions were completely normal.”

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Hang with friends

You are a human, and humans need companionship. They need to talk and smile and do adult things to feel like functioning adults, and that’s exactly why mom of two, Sarah Kashani, can’t live without her weekly friend dates. “By about two months, once the whole newborn-zombie-attached-at-the-boob-every-hour phase was over, I made sure to schedule time with a girlfriend or a group of friends once a week. The subway ride there was my personal time, listening to music and people watching, and the dinner or drinks or whatever was a way to catch up with friends, indulge in silly gossip, and maintain my sense of pre-baby self and friendships.” It makes sense, because even studies point to friendships being the anchor for true happiness.

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Don’t give up on your workout just because you’re a mom

Sure, it’s infinitely harder to make time to workout after having a baby (or two, or three, or more!), but some gyms offer babysitting services so you can squeeze in your cardio zen, and that’s the mojo hack that’s kept Krista Bennett DeMaio feeling great. “Find a gym with a babysitting room! I need to work out to stay sane. I asked for a membership to a local gym for Mother’s Day after my second was born.”

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Yes, you need date night. No, you can’t say you’re too tired.

“I take our date nights seriously now that we have a toddler,” explains Allaya Cooks-Campbell. “They don’t happen every week or anything like that, but when they do I leave the little one with her grandparents, get a hotel, dress up and buy a bottle of wine. We try to go out with our friends at least once a month too. Time together as a couple, time together as a family, and time alone are all equally important.” Here are 10 date night ideas to take advantage right now.

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Dance in your underpants

“Pre-twins, I was a fitness studio junkie,” says Lauren Carasso, a recent mom of twins. “Post-twins, it’s almost impossible to find classes that match my new schedule. I started doing at-home workouts that I bought on Amazon Video or found for free on YouTube. I love doing Zumba now—it’s fun and dancing around my living room while shaking my hips makes me feel like I still kinda sorta ‘got it.'”

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Ditch the yoga pants

This mojo-enhancing tip may sound awful, hard, and impossible, but international food writer, Keren Brown, swears it is how she stays sane and confident. “I made a no yoga pants rule. I never leave the house in yoga pants or gym clothes unless I am going to the gym! That was the biggest thing for me.” If your old self didn’t wear a wardrobe made of 99 percent of athleisure, your new self shouldn’t either.

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Find a like-minded community, even if it’s a digital one

“I got my mojo back by connecting with other food bloggers,” says Sandy Leibowitz of her journey to find her balance after having two little ones. “Staying connected to other like-minded people makes me feel normal, and being passionate about something other than my kids helps too.”

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Sometimes a little human touch can help a tired soul bounce back

“The benefits of a good massage should not be taken for granted,” explains Anna Spiewak, a mom who credits her cheery disposition to frequent massages. “They reduce muscle tension, enhance circulation, relieve stress, boost immune function, improve sleep quality, and improve mental alertness. I got a part-time nanny to sneak out for some me-time and felt so much better after each one.”

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Use your home’s secret spa

Turn your shower into a 15-minute break to destress, wash the day away, do a face mask, stretch, sing happy songs, or do whatever else you might want. Consider your daily shower a reset button on your life and your mood, and it’s easy to swing even if money or time is tight.

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Focus on other adult people

You spend so much of your time and energy focusing on the little ones in your life, but some veteran moms swear that devoting a little energy to other adults can help improve your mood, your outlook, and make you feel almost instantly cooler. “The most helpful thing I did after my daughter was born, beside getting my hair done and re-establishing my daily caffeine intake, was taking time to go out with my friends and talk about their lives,” says Britten Wolfe. There’s something about hearing what other people have to say about life, the world, and all the trivial stuff that doesn’t even really matter that helps forge meaningful bonds.

Bryce Gruber
Bryce Gruber is an expert in gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce. You've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting outlets and on TV shows. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children.