In our new column, Makeover Diaries, women tell the stories of their real-life beauty transformations. This week, Megan Ptacek Mortensen, a mom of three from Chicago, describes how she found time for beauty - both inside and out.

Photos courtesy of Megan Ptacek Mortensen

By the time I gave birth to my third son, I thought I was an old hand at bouncing back to my postpartum self. With a little exercise, a lot of nursing and a mountain of patience, I figured I'd be back to normal in no time.

But it wasn't that easy. Being constantly tugged in four diffferent directions by four different boys (husband included), was starting to chip away at me. I didn't want to lose myself among all the uplifted toilet seats, so I embarked on a beauty, mind and spirit makeover. I needed to give my confidence a boost and assert some femininity by exchanging the dull and easy for the hip and effortless.

First target: the drab ponytail. It was simple, but it also seemed like the hairstyle of a dumpy mom in high-waisted jeans. I marched to Art and Science in Lincoln Park to get a new, short wedge. I can't add a new hair routine to an already hectic morning, so I grabbed Bumble's Surf Spray, a salt texturizer. I spray some on after a shower and I'm ready to go!

Makeup is not generally part of my vocabulary, but I needed to brighten up my tired face. I picked up MAC's under-eye concealer to mask those dark circles left by sleepless nights with a waking infant, as well as their Plushglass, to add some subtle glimmer to my lips without leaving lip-smacks on my sons' cheeks. I also added some Zuzu Luxe natural mascara, to brighten my lashes - but not leave a trail of black ink down my cheeks after a sweaty day at the playground.

The larger hurdle was losing the metal work in my mouth. I was born without a tooth, and I embarked on an orthodontic journey to fix it long before my latest pregnancy. The whole process became epic, since dental x-rays are off limits for pregnant women. After I gave birth, I made time to get back on track and remove my braces and get the dental implant.

Next stop: yoga at Namaskar Yoga in Wrigleyville. Though I used to primarily be a runner, yoga allows me to slow down in a way that running does not. I can exercise, focus on myself, and re-balance my mind. Though finding the two hours twice a week is not easy, it is the most important part of my postpartum makeover because it allows me to refocus and check in with myself regularly.

Finally, date night. When our family was smaller, spending time with my husband came naturally. But now that there are five of us we never meet in the same place at the same time without deciding to do so in advance. Forking over the premium for a trustworthy babysitter is hard, but reintroducing ourselves is a necessity. We have gotten creative and gone to plays at Steppenwolf Theater, listened to music in the park, grabbed drinks with friends, and biked to dinner.

Carving out the time and space to focus on myself outside of motherhood has helped me tap into a new resource of patience, creativity, tolerance, and energy to offer to my brood of boys while keeping in touch with who I am.

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