Self Care guide for Mama's

22 Oct 2019 9:14 AM | Michelle Deerheart (Administrator)

By Michelle Deerheart, Co-Founder of Empowered Parenthood and Consultant Midwife.

Hey there, mama. Are you feeling like you're worn out? Exhausted? I hear you. Or maybe you're feeling pretty on top of things? Awesome! I hear you too.

Motherhood is such an emotional roller coaster. Some days you feel like it's the best thing that has ever happened to you, yet other days you're just trying to hang in there from sun up to sun down. It's chaotic and beautiful and messy and heart-warming... but it can also be quite consuming. After all, we love our babies with all of our being, so we want to give them all of ourselves - we put everything we have into making sure their needs are met.

But what about us? What about our needs?

It's important that we prioritise taking care of ourselves as well; not only do we deserve it (because we do!), but also because it's simply not sustainable to expend so much energy caring for others without taking time to recharge ourselves. I'm sure most of us have heard the expression “you can't pour from an empty cup” - and it's true! Whilst it's possible to run on coffee fumes and survival mode for a short period of time, if it carries on long-term you risk burnout, increased stress levels (which means high cortisol levels), exhaustion, physical fatigue, weakened immunity against illness, higher risk of mental health issues such as depression, and so on. I don't say that to scare you - it's just important to understand that self-care isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. Even if you feel like you do well at looking after yourself, it's important to continue to consciously monitor your self-care; to ensure you keep doing all the right things.

It can be hard, I know, to fit in self-care time in between the feeding, the washing, the cooking, the errand running, the nappy changing... and if you're a working mum, the job doing! It's helpful to remember though that self-care doesn't necessarily mean booking in for an hour-long massage and facial each day (although I'm sure we'd all agree that'd be nice!); self-care is simply carrying out acts of kindness to yourself and ensuring your physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs are met. This might sound like a lot to do, but little and often goes a long way here. The biggest key to ensuring you maintain your self-care is to make it achievable for your situation and work it in as part of your routine. In practice, this will look different for different people, so it's a good idea to sit down and decide what needs you have that need to be fulfilled - and how that is going to happen in real time.

Since it's always helpful to have suggestions to refer to...

If you feel completely overwhelmed and think "well, I brushed my hair three days ago - or was it four?" when you think about your self-care, you could start with:

  • Allocating ten minutes each morning for showering (without kids)/brushing teeth/toileting in peace

  • Spending five minutes drinking your coffee/tea/hot chocolate while it's still hot

  • Making sure you eat breakfast - even if it means letting the kids fend for themselves for five minutes

  • Putting on some uplifting or energetic music and having a dance around the kitchen - with or without company!

  • Leaving the housework for a while and taking a nap

  • Preparing yourself a treat meal that you don't normally get time to make

  • Preparing bulk snacks so you have something to grab & go for the next couple days

  • Putting fresh sheets on the bed

  • Calling a friend - put the phone on speaker if needed

  • Clearing and cleaning one counter, surface or small area in your house that's been bugging you

  • Allowing yourself to feel what you're feeling, rather than comparing it to what you think you should be feeling

  • Playing music you like, rather than music for the kids

  • Opening all your curtains and windows to let fresh air and light in

  • Going to bed early (or at least on time)

  • Playing a funny or motivational podcast or TED talk in the background

  • Learning to say "no" when you need to

  • Planning something small in the near future to look forward to (like a night out)

  • Asking for help when you need it (yes, this definitely counts as self-care!)

  • And reminding yourself regularly that you're doing an amazing job, and that your family are so lucky to have you

If you feel like your basic self-care is OK but your emotional needs could use some uplifting, you could try:

  • Taking the kids for a walk in the buggy somewhere that makes you happy

  • Joining a playgroup for mum/baby social interaction

  • Mindfully sipping a cup of herbal tea and focusing the flavours that come out (you could even treat yourself to a delicious new blend!)

  • Finding an online group you can connect with

  • Listening to a ten minute guided meditation or podcast

  • Getting some inspiring books out of the library (and make time to read them)

  • Moving your furniture around for a change of scenery

  • Making time each day for something you enjoy doing (eg. art, colouring, writing, yoga)

  • Visiting somewhere special to you that you don't get to visit often

  • And remind yourself regularly that you're doing an amazing job, and that your family are so lucky to have you

If you feel like you're the queen of self-care (go you!) but know that extra ideas are always good, you could try:

  • Joining a class for something that interests you (eg. languages, cooking, photography, sport)

  • Starting a project for something you're passionate about (eg. family albums, renovations, building a business, blogging)

  • Setting yourself an achievable personal goal (eg. to run a marathon, write a novel, improve your fitness)

  • Remembering to stop every now and then and just relax

  • And remind yourself (you guessed it!) that you're doing an amazing job, and that your family are so lucky to have you

No matter which stage you're at, try and regularly check in on yourself to make sure you're at least looking after the basics (eating healthfully and regularly, getting enough sleep, etc); but ideally also taking care of your deeper needs as well. Start small, then add more in as you can. Try not to think of it as "yet another thing" you have to do; try and remember it's something you get to do and that you want to do - just for yourself.


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