It Starts At Home: Self-Care with Mothers in Mind
Updated: Jul 5, 2022
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 feel like I’m close to hitting my breaking- point.
If you are a mom, you KNOW you are not getting enough sleep! Whether you are a first-time momma with a newborn or well-seasoned mom to older kids, it seems like we are still in dire need of a weekend-long slumber. We are constantly caring for our children or worrying about their overall well-being which in return, keeps us up at night. According to a study from Sleep Junkie, 68% of people surveyed who aren’t parents were getting the recommended amount of sleep (7+ hours). As for the parents? Only about 10% were getting the recommended amount. It makes sense why moms are dragging in the mornings!
What can we do to ensure we are getting enough sleep? We can’t all achieve the recommended number of hours when it comes to sleep, but we can try to implement better nighttime habits to get more zzz’s. Here are some ideas that have been helpful to me when I’m trying to catch up on my beauty rest:
Lavender lotion. Epsom salt baths. Melatonin (if recommended by your physician). Tea. Less screen time at night, Exercise. Hot showers.
These are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding better ways to get quality sleep. Now, go ahead and place that gorgeous head of yours on your pillow and get some sleep!
5. Recognize the feelings that are inhabiting your body and mind
One of the most essential ways to take care of yourself is to admit when you are experiencing the feelings of being overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated, or depressed. You are allowed to feel all of these emotions. Sometimes it’s hard to accept we feel like it’s too much for us. As moms, we are told we were born for this. We are told again and again that once you have your children that your “instincts will kick in”.
We need to be able to say out loud when we are feeling inadequate.
Can I be the one to tell you that it’s ok if you feel like you don’t have all your crap together? As a mother to two girls, I still feel like everyday is a new obstacle to reach, and I’m constantly questioning if I’m being the best mother I can be for them. We don’t always have the right answers. We don’t always feel our best. We need to be able to say out loud when we are feeling inadequate.
Want to know the best secret about being a mom? Finding people in our corner of the world who understand us and what we are going through. When you connect with other moms and have the chance to be vulnerable with your struggles and let people in - amazing things blossom from those relationships. You might not be alone in the feelings you are experiencing. There are plenty of resources online that can connect you with local mom groups, church programs catered to mothers, support groups, etc. All you need to do is make the first step in connecting with others—reach out.
You don’t have to do this alone, momma. We’ve got your back.
The prevailing point I want you to take away: it is ok and absolutely necessary to take care of ourselves. Self-care is not selfish. When you are battling the guilt of taking time for yourself, think about airplane turbulence safety. Motherhood has turbulence, and what do they say time and time again on flights? They remind you to make sure your mask is on before you help someone else with theirs. If you run out of oxygen for you then how can you help those around you? We need to restore our needs in order to do the best that we can do for our loved ones.
Written by Katie Thrush