Self care for beginners … in other words, for moms. Trigger warning: this post contains swear words.
I am a postpartum doula. I visit moms in their homes very soon after they give birth to new babies. We sit and talk, sometimes drink tea, and trouble-shoot breastfeeding. I teach them soothing techniques their babies love, and I take special care of them, too. Many people don’t know what a postpartum doula does, or why anyone would need one. YES I am a specialist in postpartum, but my most important job is to teach moms something they will use for the rest of their lives.
I teach them how to take care of themselves.
I find that all new moms, moms in general, are obsessed with one thing … being good moms. They are obsessed with how to feed their babies, which diapers to use, whether to go back to work — pumping, nursing, dinners and daycare. I love to walk with them (metaphorically) while they sort through these decisions. But at the end of the day, none of my input matters. They don’t need my help making decisions that only they know how to make.
What they really need is my permission to meet their own needs.
My house is messy but my cup is full.
Let me be your voice of reason for a second. As a mom, you can’t have it all. You can’t have it all at the same time. You can’t have it all in the same decade even. You have to prioritize.
Something moms rarely prioritize, but which is most important of all … SELF CARE.
“I don’t have time.” “We don’t have enough money.” “My kids need me.” “My kids come first.”
I have said all these things myself. I have also been anxious, depressed, sick and tired. I’ve had marital struggles and insomnia and fits of rage where I yell, then cry, then apologize.
There is something that our “have-it-all” culture forgets to tell us as mothers. You can’t be a good mom unless you take good care of yourself. And sometimes you have to dump some stuff off your plate before you have space on it FOR YOURSELF.
How To Get Started.
1. Learn to Say NO.
Say no to any obligation that makes you stressed, resentful or angry. No excuses just do it. Don’t be scared of hurting someone’s feelings. Say no to anything in your life that makes you sick to your stomach. In our have-it-all culture, time is your most important asset. Time is all you have.
2. One Day Per Week of Rest
Spend one day a week where you don’t drive anywhere, meet anyone, have any appointments, meetings or events. If you follow this rule, you will have to say no, ALOT. Your friends and loved ones will have to learn that your saying no has nothing to do with how much you love them. In fact you love them more, because you are living an example of self-compassion and care that is your gift to them.
3. Move Your Body, in the Sunlight if Possible
You don’t need to bench-press your body weight or train for a marathon. Just move your body. You don’t need a gym membership or yoga membership or class pass to do this. My favorite ways to do this: yoga at home (using a $10 dvd), walks with my kid, dancing in the living room with my kid, and swimming in the summertime. Yoga at home is the best … make it your goal to practice 10 minutes a day and trust me, it will change your life.
4. Invest in Yourself
Most of us have enough money to buy our kids tons of plastic s*** they may or may not need. We might buy Starbucks coffee drinks or order pizza or go haywire at Target on a regular basis. Divert some of those funds from your monthly budget into a mama’s self care fund. Mine goes toward essential oils, chiropractic care /massage / acupuncture. Groupon is a great place to find deals on body therapies. Do it! Think of it this way … a regular massage is cheaper than a divorce. ❤️
5. Start Telling the Truth.
Stop comparing yourself to other people. Stop, stop, stop. As a nurse and doula I know everyone’s secrets. I don’t care how beautiful you are, how clean your home or well-behaved your children (seem), there’s no keeping secrets from me! As a secret keeper I can assure you … Everyone is just as much of a mess as you are. We all have struggles and they are unique to us. Instead of feeling less-than and a need to seem perfect or “together”, let yourself off the hook. Find someone you trust (whether or not you have to pay them) and tell the truth. The truth is the truth you can hush it up for only so long before it comes careening into your front yard with lights and sirens.
Because I’m just like you.