It Starts At Home: Self-Care with Mothers in Mind

My eyes open around 7 am to the sound of my daughter cooing from her crib. It’s hard waking up due to the fact that I collectively got around 4 hours of sleep due to nighttime feedings with my baby. Before I tend to the needs of my daughter, I shuffle my feet over to my trusty coffee maker to prepare me for another day of diaper changes, cooking lunch and dinner for a toddler who doesn’t appreciate a home cooked-meal, and whatever other predicaments my day has in store.

My living room floor looks like a tornado went off. I sift through the debris of dress-up clothes, princess dolls, crayons, and whatever else a toddler can get into these days.

The pile of laundry mocks me every time I walk past it - tell myself once again that TODAY will be the day it gets folded and put away. Until we meet again, jeans and socks.

My four-month-old had another blow out which means it’s time to do the song and dance of changing clothes, sanitizing surfaces, fresh diapers, etc. But then I hear yelling from the girls’ bathroom. My toddler is telling me she went potty and she needs help with wiping. A baby on one hip, wiping another’s bottom – this is what my days look like most of the time.

Bedtime eventually comes around, and after several room-breaks-outs and the baby finally settles in for the evening - my body hits the couch and when I glance at the clock, it’s after 8 pm. I’m exhausted. All I want to do is binge Schitt’s Creek and enjoy my rosé in peace.

After my oldest daughter was born, I started spiraling in terms of figuring out how to be a mom, but also needing to take care of my own needs. I suffered from clinical postpartum depression and did not see the warning signs right away. I thought it was normal to be so exhausted to the point of falling asleep while breastfeeding.

I thought crying in the shower was just “baby blues”. After my husband sitting me down and expressing his concerns with me and guiding me to seek help, I realized a couple of things. To this little person, I claimed the name of “mom”. I forgot all of the other titles that go along with my name.

Writer. Sister. Believer. Friend. Lover. Daughter.

How in the world are we supposed to carve time out of our day to take care of ourselves? We are made to believe that we are only taking care of ourselves if we put money towards something.

Spa days are desperately desired.

Shopping sprees are tempting.

Girls weekends are daydreamed.

We can get caught up in the mindset of thinking if we buy face masks, outfits, alcohol, self-help books that suddenly we will somehow be the well-rounded mom who has her ducks in order. While some of these things can help at the moment in time, it’s not going to solve what really needs to be taken care of - your mental and emotional health.

So what’s the solution then? Girl, I’ve got you.

I have a couple of ideas for you that won’t break the bank, will implement healthier coping skills, and hopefully bring a sense of relief and confidence that you are doing the best job at being a momma.

1. Pamper Yourself (at home)

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to take care of yourself? Take a long, uninterrupted shower. While you are taking care of your physical needs, it also promotes psychological benefits. According to Medical Daily, taking a shower can increase oxytocin levels which can help with combating anxiety.

Ways I try to pamper myself at home are reading books that fill my brain with positive energy, writing my feelings out either on paper or the computer, running on the treadmill in my garage, painting my nails, or whatever else I know that I can successfully do at home. You don’t have to go out of your way to make sure you are taking care of yourself!

2. Guilty Pleasures and Hobbies

Just because you are a mother doesn’t mean you can’t tap into your interests and the things that make you feel alive! Whether your hobbies include being able to get your hands dirty, playing music, putting pen to paper, rolling out your yoga mat, or maybe even attempting to find new hobbies that may interest you. There’s no shame in finding out what makes you feel alive and finding relief from the tasks and responsibilities that being a mom entails. Sometimes it takes trial and error to find exactly what it is that brings peace into your life. So go on - try your hand at some things

3. 5 Senses

This one is perfect for you if you struggle to find relief during those tough days. The great thing about it? It’s free and can be done anytime, anywhere. This activity is recommended by therapists as a “grounding tool”. This exercise helps to find balance when you feel like things are coming unhinged. Use this prompt to recenter yourself and find relief:

What are 5 things you see?

I see the sun, birds, and children playing

What are 4 things you feel?

I feel the grass on my feet, hands around coffee mug, and a hug from a friend

What are 3 things you can hear?

I hear my daughters laughing, car horns, and trains

What are 2 things you can smell?

I smell brewing coffee, warm bread, and fresh laundry

What is 1 thing you can taste?

I taste my mint gum, tea, and chocolate

This exercise can help if you struggle with anxiety or feel a panic attacking trying to make its way in. Coming from a personal experience, this has helped me in times where I need to reframe my mindset when I fe