It’s too easy to get disheartened about your weight, looks and hairstyle when you see hundreds of glossy post-baby celebs on the covers of magazines and newspapers. I know that I’ve thought “How on earth am I supposed to look like that when I only get five minutes to shower!” The thing is, us normal mums don’t have personal chefs, trainers, stylists, beauticians and all the other paraphernalia that go with a mega-million living budget.
It’s hard to stay cheerful about your post-pregnancy looks when your toes haven’t seen polish for weeks and you aren’t sure when you last plucked your eyebrows. Well, I’ve been on a mission to discover cheap and easy ways to get that yummy mummy look without spending lots of money or time on it.
Problem: Hands and toes are pretty much the first to go when you have a demanding baby (or three) hanging on your arm. The constant hand washing takes its toll on your skin and your nails tend to get cracked and chipped really easily. There just isn’t time to grab gloves every time you need to clean up a mess or sort out a crisis and cleaning products dry out your skin. Plus the lack of sleep doesn’t help with the overall condition of your nails either...
Fix: Keep small, cheap tubs of aqueous cream or body butter in your handbag, bathroom(s), nappy changing bag and beside your bed. Whenever you get a spare moment just rub some in to your hands, even if it’s the last thing you do before you collapse into sleep at night. Soon your hands will start to show the change. Lather both feet in tons of cream and put them into a pair of woolly socks overnight. Sounds weird but works a charm.
Budget: Get nail and hand care products at sales and discount bins whenever you spot them doing your shopping. You’ll build up quite a collection and you’ll always have some on hand when you run out of cash or time. The Body Shop is having their January sale right now with body butter going for a mere £5.
Top Tip: Get a Momicure (TM) for toes and fingers in five minutes. You’ll need a nail care kit, nail polish, body butter or aqueous cream and a foot sized Tupperware container full of hot water. Give both feet a quick wash and soak for about a minute. Then dry, cut nails, buff, trim and paint. When polish has dried cover both feet with cream. Done and sorted. Do the same for hands. You can squeeze in a Momicure while they’re having a nap, watching TV or entertaining themselves and you’ll love having pretty toes to gawk at again.
Problem: You’ve gone from chic and shaved to closely resembling the neighbourhood yeti. Legs and arms are bordering on terrifying and your head is one big split end. Perhaps you’re returning to work or maybe you’re struggling to juggle babies, housework, career and errands but your hair is definitely looking the worse for wear.
Fix: If you, like me, have a special hair dresser that you’ve found through trial and error, then set aside £5 a month starting today. Use this Hair Budget once every six months until you either have more time or a bigger budget for regular hair maintenance. It’s a good idea to get a style that’s low maintenance for the interim and to avoid obvious tints so you don’t get that horrible re-growth line.
Budget: Amazingly there are special deals out there on hair cuts and trims. You can nab a cut and finish at a Hair Group Salon courtesy of Play.com for a mere £5. Save money on shampoo and conditioner by taking advantage of special offers whenever you see them. Take the money you save and put it straight into your Hair Budget. Those little bits will add up and see you getting a lovely colour as well as your usual trim.
Top Tip: As horrifying as it sounds, most hairdressers recommend that you don’t wash your hair every day. Try washing every three to four days instead. Initially it will look awful and you’ll feel like everyone is staring, but soon your hair will adapt. This ensures that the natural oils have time to repair your hair, reducing split ends and holding shiny condition.
Problem: When you have kids it becomes increasingly difficult to find the time to go to gym. You also may find that you’re eating more thanks to finishing off their plates of food or being too tired to prepare decent meals. Weight goes on, you get unfit and you start to hate your reflection.
Fix: Buy yourself some ankle weights and snap them on when you get up in the morning. Those extra kilos will help your body burn more calories while you do the housework or sort out the kids. Another great way to add to the calorie burn and build fitness is to use the stairs around your house. If you are trying to comfort baby, why not walk up and down two sets of stairs instead of sitting on the sofa. The movement will relax them and help you get fitter. Use baby or toddler lifts to buff your arms and take long walks around your neighbourhood with the pram. The latter is brilliant for improving overall fitness, increasing metabolic functions and enhancing your mood.
Top Tip: Set one day a week aside to do a massive cook-a-thon of wholesome, healthy foods like stews and soups. Label and freeze them and whip them out whenever you’re too busy or tired to prepare a meal. It will also save you a ton of cash as it’s far cheaper than fast food. And you’ll lose weight. Bonus.