New moms need lots of help; the postpartum period is rough. Baby gets all the attention while Mom is at the bottom of everyone’s list—especially her own—for even basic care. If regular bathing and balanced meals are ancient history, workouts and decent hair are mere myth. And since a new mom can’t think straight—she has, after all, “just built a whole new person”—she needs someone who can. Enter Dana Wood, a mother, veteran journalist, blogger and guide to navigating the return of the real you. Momover is clever, sane and funny. Cheaper than a postpartum doula or therapy, it gets down to the basics of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health unique to the new mom. In fact, the book is organized by these headings, making it easy to use even when readers are sleep-deprived. Sleep, not surprisingly, merits an entire chapter and includes a bit of science and a lot of common sense. Other chapters detail how to reduce stress, be mindful of negative self-talk, start a realistic workout plan and feed yourself properly. Her message is simple: Mom first. Easy to say, hard to do, but Momover can help.

And one for baby
I hesitate to mention this book lest its baby-centered perfection seem at odds with the other two. But this crafty little gem need not interfere with a new mom’s self-care regimen or her adoption of more realistic standards. Users don’t have to make every single scrumptious thing in Laura Lee Burch’s Sew Magical for Baby. Just the trimmed burp cloth, perhaps, or a giant fabric photo cube. It’s not like we have to felt our own wool to make the sheep mobile. How about a sun hat with puppy ears, or my favorite: life-size fabric fruit and veg in a brown felt sack? Simple stitches and patterns guide users through 20 toys and accessories for lucky babies and toddlers. Burch, an upscale boutique owner, understands the fine line between cute and cloying, and makes sure every offering is truly magical.

Top pick
“You can’t have it all,” says Lisa Quinn, mother of two, former HGTV host, “recovering perfectionist” and author of Life’s Too Short to Fold Fitted Sheets. If this declaration sounds like a dubious message for moms, read on. Quinn lowers the bar on our unrealistic standards, arguing that when we demonstrate to our kids that a “spotless house is more important than fun,” it is time for an intervention. How to maintain your properly adjusted expectations? Learn when and how to just say no, and find out why multitasking really means doing a lot of things badly. Quinn also doles out decorating cheats from a pro, demonstrates how the appearance of cleanliness can be had with a minimum of planning and upkeep, and provides the rip-out-and-stick-on-the-fridge epiphany “17 Meals Made From a Deli Chicken.” She dishes out common sense with a wit that wears well, all in the service of helping moms get through the day.

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