Part II: Self Care
A few months into motherhood, I realized that this new gig was NOT what I had expected it would be. I always imagined I would take to motherhood like a fish to water. I was sure it would come easily and I would love it more than anything. Mom was the end all, be all of who I wanted to be.
WRONG! Now don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom, it is THE best thing I have ever done. However, I cannot survive being mommy and nothing else.
Self care seems like a simple concept. It means taking deliberate care of our emotional, physical and mental health. And we hear about it so much lately! What I have found is that self care is not one size fits all. It takes thought and planning. You have to figure out how you want to feel then you need to figure out what is practical for you and your unique lifestyle.
As a new mom, I definitely had a bit of an identity crisis. I was no longer the woman I was before but I was certainly not who I thought I would be once I became a mother. Figuring out who you are once you have children is a process. I have decided to take it easy and not rush it, I don’t need the all the answers right away. I know for sure, being a mom is one of the most important parts of my life. So I want to be sure I can give my best self to my children. That’s why self care is so important. If I don’t take good care of myself, I can’t be a good mom. So what do I need to do for myself to feel supported, appreciated and taken care of?
These are some of the things I do that work for me.
I plan things to look forward to: This means getting things on my calendar with the people I love. Having something to look forward to creates healthy anticipation in our lives. Healthy amounts of anticipation has been proven to help people improve their level of tolerance for the mundane or negative things.
I do things for myself: In those first few months, at the end of the day, I felt unfulfilled. I had done laundry, washed dishes, cooked, taken care of a baby but it just felt kind of like I had nothing to show for it. I know it is not meaningless but I felt like I personally needed more. So as counterintuitive as it sounds, I found things that felt important to me that were not necessarily productive like knitting or writing. Eventually I even got a part time job.
I spend time away from my child: I thought I’d want to be around my kids all the time. HA! I don’t think anyone can survive spending every waking hour with their children without losing it a little. It’s okay to get a babysitter and go out to do something alone. It is more than okay, it’s important!
I express what I need from others: A huge part of feeling supported is having supportive, loving people around me but without communicating my needs to these people they won’t really know how to help. Rob always tells me, “I can’t read your mind, you have to tell me what you need/are feeling.” We carry so much as mothers on our shoulders and it can cause resentment. So speak up and ask for help, really it’s okay.
Here are some really specific things I do to take care of myself:
Get a girl’s dinner on the calendar and don’t cancel
Exercise because it feels good – take a walk, try a new class, hop on on the Peloton
Book a babysitter for a weekend night even if we don’t have plans, just to get out
Plan a vacation or maybe a long weekend or even a staycation
Attend therapy group
Knit, it’s really rewarding and calming. It quiets my mind and feels good to make something.
Cook for fun! This means I get to take my time, not rush to make dinner.
Vent! I have a group text with friends who have kids of a similar age and we are constantly sharing recipes, complaints, questions, ideas. It might not seem like self care but it helps me feel like we are in it together
Ask for help from my husband or other family.
Go eat dinner somewhere else. A change of scenery, particularly in those cold months, can do wonders for everyone.
Put the phone away! I am so attached to my phone and I have to force myself to put it down but I feel so much more sane when I sit without it. I can focus more and my mind feels so much quieter.
These are just some of the things I do to feel taken care of and fulfilled. It is a work in progress and unique for all of us. What works for me, may not be for you. But I urge you to get clear on what you need, what you want and how to make it work for you! It is so worth it.
What are some of your tried and true tricks for feeling taken care of?