‘Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.’ – Robert Browning
Ah motherhood. The great redeemer. The great equalizer. The great practice of moment to moment taking care of something…someone!
In our great work as mothers we can often loose sight of prioritizing our own self-care.
I know I know, you hear it over and over again but you just can’t find the time, make the time, enjoy the time. Self-care feels like something you did before you had a baby. You are just so tired. So busy. So uninspired.
Let’s be real, the barriers to self-care, especially for new moms is real. For many of us we can go go go and sacrifice our sleep, time, and body to keep our tiny human(s) alive. I know you have heard this message of taking care of yourself first and rolled your eyes. Maybe you are tired of reading about finding time for meditation, yoga, spa time, girls night out because you are just SO tired you can’t imagine doing anything at all. Maybe you are feeling so sensitive and emotional you don’t want to leave the house. Maybe you are riding the wild ride of motherhood and are looking for some anchors.
In these moments mama, I want to offer you some practices to replenish and refuel your delicate, beautiful, exhausted mama heart.
From my heart, to yours:
Find a way to laugh: play with your kids, watch a funny show, find a ridiculous meme or cat video on youtube, call a friend who knows how to get you cackling.
2. MOVE YOUR BODY
Move and breathe! YES you can do this with you baby and/or toddler. How? Play chase! Have a dance party! Put on a yoga video and do family yoga (yeh it might only last 2 minutes with your toddler but that’s better than zero minutes). Make it a game to see who can breathe in and out the longest. Go for a walk outside. Don’t feel like motivating? Check out #3:
3. SLOW DOWN
Do everything slower! Diaper changes, cooking, eating, cleaning. You can even practice mindful walking in your home: walk with your baby through the house as slowly as you can, taking in the walls, colors, sights and sounds. Breathe deep, allow yourself to be right where you are. (Yes this is mindfulness but we don’t need a fancy name or practice to enjoy the benefits of slowing down and breathing when we are doing our daily chores of motherhood. It’s ok to smile too 😍)
4. NATURE TIME
Science tells us again and again to get out in nature. This is because time in nature has show to nourish our nervous system. Go outside and get your bare feet on the earth, eat a meal out in the backyard, go to the local park and smile at the sunshine, take a long drive to your favorite nature spot (beach, forest, lake….) and go for a walk or just sit in your car and breath in an out while you feel gratitude for the view. Which leads me to….
Find paper and a pen (or crayon ha) and write down one thing you are grateful for. Post it on the fridge. Want something even more simple? Just THINK about something you are grateful for. See if you can sit with it and enjoy the thought for one full minute. Our brains take longer to process positive emotions than negative ones (I know, it sucks but it’s good info to have yes?); so let your nervous system digest the goodness, even just once a day. You’re basically building the feel good muscle in your brain.
6. PHYSICAL TOUCH
Soothe your heart with a baby snuggle or melting hug with a friend or partner. A melting hug is a hug that lasts at least 7 seconds. The great family therapist Virginia Satir has this to say about hugs: ‘We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.’
7. NOURISH YOUR BODY
If you have a toddler you are a snack machine. If you are nursing your new baby then YOU are the snack machine. Whatever season of motherhood you find yourself in, food is a big deal. Find simple ways to nourish your body – yes I’m talking about feeding yourself nutrient rich foods and good fats. You know what else i’m talking about? Treating yourself. Use your favorite creamer in your coffee, eat some chocolate in the morning if you’re craving it, enjoy a glass of wine while preparing dinner (or waiting for the takeout to arrive). A simple practice I LOVE for nourishing the body is to keep a bottle of your favorite scented oil in the shower and when you get in there take one full minute to rub that delicious yummy oil all over your body while saying thank you to your body. Your body will feel nourished, your senses indulged and I dare say you will feel a bit more relaxed.
8. CALL A FRIEND
When your world is slipping towards motherhood SOS pick up your phone and call a friend. It could be another mother in a similar season as you who you can vent to. Or a mother who’s kids are old than you who can remind you that this too shall pass. Or even a friend without kids that you can talk about something totally unrelated to mothering. Connection here is key.
I hope you found a practice or two that resonates and that you can integrate easily into your life. Comment below and let me know what you feel inspired and excited to integrate into your self-care arsenal this week.
I look forward to connecting again soon.
Kim is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who specializes in holistic wellness for moms. She is passionate about supporting mamas through the journey of motherhood from pregnancy through postpartum. Kim currently offers holistic psychotherapy to individuals in El Dorado Hills, CA.Contact her for your complimentary 15-minute consultation.