Dear New Momma, Desperately Seeking Self-Care?
Dear New Momma,
How are you feeling... really? Early motherhood is all about adjustment. Are you adjusting to your new body? Your new identity? It's always in adjustment even if this isn't your first baby. Are you desperately seeking self-care? Just because you had a baby doesn't mean you should feel crappy about your looks, pee in your pants (pelvic floor issues?), not exercise, and generally not take care of yourself.
Remember back when you were pregnant and you exercised at least once a week? Remember when you took long walks? As a yoga teacher and doula, I meet pregnant women all the time who are doing "all the things" for themselves and their pregnancy, but once that baby comes they never seem to find the time. And I'm speaking from experience here. I was one of those mommas -especially after my second baby. But finally, after I had several near breakdowns, I started to put myself back together. For me, the hardest part about early motherhood was little sleep and a lot of stress. So what changed? I got a therapist and slowly learned the only thing I could change was myself. I learned I physically and mentally HAD. TO. DO. YOGA. Yoga is my major stress reliever, my reset, my coming home. I had allowed my crazy life to get in the way of my practice. I lost touch with myself. Why? For the all the same reasons you are probably feeling. I wanted to be the best momma I could. I pushed myself to do more for my kids. I wasn't trying to be perfect, I was just trying to do too much.
After I had these major realizations, I committed myself to my yoga practice and doing less. I was out of alignment with my own truth -who I wanted to be, and how I showed up for my kids. We all have our own motherhood journey, but dear Mommas, it doesn't have to be this hard.
Recommit yourself to self-care, self-love, and come home with a few habits that will change your life.
How do you wake up now? Do you wake up and immediately look on your phone? Do you wake up to the sound of your baby crying? Do you immediately start a negative mantra of "I'm so tired”? Does it feel like Groundhog Day every morning? I know the feeling.
Try waking up just 30 mins before your baby/kid alarm clock goes off. Set your day on your own terms with a positive mantra, "Today is going to be a good day." Avoid looking at the phone and getting sucked into a dark rabbit hole. Go straight to the kitchen and drink a big glass of water -maybe with lemon. Allow yourself to wake up slowly, mindfully. Think about your dreams, maybe write them down. Set your day with a short meditation -even if that's breathing calmly in bed before getting up.
Physical Moment Everyday
Even though I'm a yoga addict, I didn't always have a super regular yoga practice. Instead, I would rush out of the house after my husband got home three times a week (if I was lucky) to hit up someone else's yoga class. If my husband had to work late, or if dinner needed to be made, or the kids were upset - I wouldn't go to yoga. It was hit or miss. It wasn't until I join a Yoga Health course when I learned the art of a daily home yoga practice. I learned that I had to truly carve out time to make this work. I went to bed earlier, and woke up before the kids to practice yoga for a minimum of 20 mins everyday. This changed my life. Instead of feeling grumpy and super tired, I felt proud of myself. A glow is formed when you practice yoga before the kids wake up. You magically become on top of the world because you already practiced yoga before anyone has asked you for cereal. Now, instead of freaking out with all the many demands from little mouths, I feel calm and grounded. I can't recommend it enough. Yoga, or some physical moment -just 20 mins- everyday.
Eat An Earlier, Lighter Dinner
Here's the thing. You need more sleep. You also need to carve out time for yourself. You might be thinking, "there's no way I can get to bed earlier." Here's the trick, it all starts with an earlier, ligher dinner. Eating an earlier, lighter dinner sets up the evening routine to be smooth and easy. This is often the key habit to create your deep self-care practice. All kinds of beautiful things happen when you eat an earlier, lighter dinner. You sleep better, and wake up less groggy. You lose weight. You feel good. Aim for ending dinner at least three hours before going to bed. Soup and salad, or what you had for lunch in a small portion, is a simple and easy way to meal plan.
Get A Sitter
I remember when a therapist told my husband and I to get some babysitting help, I thought he was crazy. Babysitters are expensive, and we are broke. We went years without having a reliable babysitter. No date nights. No coverage for school meetings. It sucked. Honestly, getting a regular sitter was the best thing I ever did for my marriage, my family, and myself. We now have an au pair, which certainly sounds like we have turned into the 1%, but this help was essential for our mental health and self care. Worth. Every. Penny.
I hope these simple habit changes help you along the path to deep self-care. It's possible to take care of yourself while you are taking care of your littles. It starts with the belief that you deserve to feel good, and the willingness to put in the effort. You are worth it.