SELF-CARE FOR MOTHERS (AND HOW I ACTUALLY MAKE IT HAPPEN)
Updated: Jan 23, 2021
I like to think I was pretty good at the self-care thing before my son was born, almost three years ago. I would meditate, move, journal and rest, and I knew how to prioritize myself. Fast forward a few years later, and my self-care practice was almost non-existent. Self-care often doesn’t come natural to mothers, but there is a way. I’ll share with you how I actually make my self-care practice happen on a very regular basis.
The ebbs and flows of my self-care practice
Self-care came easy to me until a few months into motherhood. I even wrote articles about self-care during pregnancy and self-care for the new mom, but not long after writing that second article, my self-care practice started to become this things of the past. Yes, I would do yoga and yes, I would get time for myself, but it wasn’t anything stable nor sustainable. It would ebb and flow. Some days I would be high on life because I felt nourished and rested after my practice, but I would also go through weeks without doing anything purely for me and my joy.
It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom about 1.5 years after my son was born. My birth trauma kept playing up and I experienced lots of dark days. It felt like I wasn’t made for motherhood. I couldn’t do it.
How I returned to self-care
During my trauma therapy sessions, I not only learned how to process my difficult birth and truly healed, but I also learned I had to return to the practice of self-care. This time, I had to commit. I had to commit to take care of myself. This wasn’t easy and it took me some time to figure this out. As for many mothers, it didn’t come natural to me to dedicate time to myself, to consciously do thing without my son, and to really turn this into something regular rather than the occasional visit to the spa.
It starts with commitment
Well, that sounds easy, right? Well, it turns out it’s not.
Commitment requires you to really turn within, ask yourself what it is you need and why you need that, and only then you can feel that urge coming up that helps you understand that you will have to take care of yourself to live, to thrive, and to support your family. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Can you feel that? Can you accept that you have to take care of yourself to take care of your child(ren)? Can you embrace that you deserve time to care for yourself - only for yourself?
If you’re committed to letting your child(ren) thrive and your family life flow, you’ll have to commit to caring for yourself, too. That doesn’t have to mean you put yourself above anything else, but it does mean you treat yourself equally as good as you treat others. You deserve it, mama, you really do.
The practice that is ever changing
I’m the type of person that when she commits, she’s all in. I used to schedule my practices: “Monday = yoga movement” “Tuesday = strength training” “Wednesday = study night”, etc. It turned out, that was not what I needed. Although I needed that commitment, I also needed the freedom to listen to what my body and mind needed. Some evenings that was movement, others it was a novel on the couch, and I needed the freedom to listen.
What does that mean for my self-care practice? It means that I still block moments in my calendar to practice. Sometimes that’s a lunch session, other times and early morning one, and often times an evening practice. I do need the time slot’s in my calendar to remind me that I matter. That’s what I committed to. I don’t beat myself up if life got in the way or if spontaneous dates with friends came up, but I do keep a promise to myself by doing at least 9 out of the 10 scheduled self-care sessions.
What I’m currently loving
When it comes to movement, I’m currently obsessed with The Class - jumping, shaking, strengthening and breathing for empowerment. My yoga practice is ever changing, and is very free. I don’t obsess with alignment, but rather focus on freedom, the somatic experience, and the signals my cycle gives me. Yoga Nidra is always part of my life: on weekdays I like to practice before sleep, and on weekends I prefer a midday practice.
I returned to reading novels this summer after spending all of my reading time on studying. It’s feels so joyful to read fiction again and it really helps me to step out of my own life for a moment and into the lives of the characters.
I see an osteopath (Mona at Klinikk for Alle) for some postpartum challenges, and hope to return to my acupuncturist soon.
I try to write every single. Sometimes it’s a blurb on Instagram, sometimes a longer post, sometimes a page for a book. It feels good to let the words flow out and come back to one of my earliest loves: the love for the written word.
I re-committed to healthy eating. Although I’ve studied nutrition, I often don’t prioritize healthy foods because I believe I don’t have time/space/energy/etc to create something nourishing. What this actually shows is that I don’t believe I deserve it. I do deserve it, so I changed my foods back to healthy and nourishing, and I’m feeling a massive change in energy levels.
To do all these things, I often have to take a break from parenting. My husband and I talk about this a lot and we give each other space to explore things on our own, so the other parent has a change to explore life with our toddler. We love being together as a trio, but we also value alone time. It also means I sometimes have to do my practice (whatever that may be that day) in the middle of the day when my son is in daycare, before we wakes up, or after he’s gone to bed. Finally, it means that a practice is usually much shorter than it was before I became a mom, and that is totally alright. Fifteen minutes for myself can change an entire day. I know that now, and I wish I’d known it earlier in parenthood.
It’s not about bubble baths and spa visits
Here’s the thing with self-care: it’s not about bath tubs, spa visits and manicures. It’s about choosing yourself, over and over again. That might mean saying no, or saying yes. I might mean choosing yoga over a run, or the other way around. It might be choosing a night on the couch over a night on the town, or the other way around. It’s about you. Your choices about the things that nourish you, light you up, inspire you, energize you, keep you healthy, and bring you home to yourself.