Let's hit 'pause', Mama
Self-care is a trendy word right now that is seriously losing it's depth and meaning fast, especially for new mothers. I bet you're picturing "self-care" right now in your head- the lovely fit blonde mom in her deep claw-foot tub with fresh white bubbles surrounding her and an expensive red wine in her hand. And sometimes it looks like that, but most of the time it's not so pretty or perfect. My postpartum self-care baths certainly weren't close to that. I'd carefully place my daughter in the bouncer next to the tub and crawl into a scalding hot bath with my new squishy belly and spend 20 minutes crying, and I mean full on irrationally bawling, and scrolling Facebook until she woke and it was time to breastfeed for the 80th time that day. I bet those baths would look crazy to someone watching, but that was what got me through in those early days.
I knew how great motherhood would be. I was familiar with the highs, but I wasn't ready for the lows. Motherhood at times would be lonely and dark. Sometimes it would be so exhausting I would be convinced that the hard days would go on forever. Taking the time to care for myself ended up being step 1 to coping, which felt entirely wrong and selfish.
But mama, self care is an airplane oxygen mask. We're losing pressure in the cabin and you need to put on your mask before hypoxia sets in, so you can help those around you. Here are our 3 quick tips to self-care, just in time for Mother's Day:
1.) Leave the guilt at the door.
You not only deserve and should do this, self-care is an act of survival. There is not a hint of selfishness in small acts to protect your sanity. Your children will be able to watch their mother prioritize her health and in turn will learn to do the same, which is a very valuable lesson that everyone should learn.
2.) It doesn't have to be luxurious
Self-care doesn't need to be budgeted in to your family's expenses. Taking 20 minutes a day to sit in the backyard and listen to the quiet is self-care. Taking a 20 minute nap while the little(s) nap is self-care. Spending time making yourself a delicious breakfast is self-care. It's the tiny things that keep you grounded that will make the endless work we call motherhood sustainable.
3.) It isn't always a "treat"
Sometimes it won't feel like a reward or an escape. Self-care is also making sure you're drinking water, that you're keeping in touch with the people you love, that you're taking your medication, or reaching out when you need help. Self-care is making sure you're protecting your mental and physical well-being with all the love that you deserve to give yourself. Check in with your body frequently and listen hard. Most importantly, make sure you have a lifeline; Have one friend/family member that can provide relief if you ever find yourself on empty and in need of time to re-center yourself.
Have a very happy Mother's Day. We hope you find time to put on your oxygen mask this weekend!