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You don’t really realize how important self care is until you are a completely overwhelmed, frazzled mother. For me, it started with wondering how to meet my needs. So the first step really is: you have to get to know yourself.
Where did my sudden passion for self care come from? Let me explain.
After giving birth, you go through a major adjustment period both physically and mentally as your body recovers. And you wrap your head around what just happened. There’s always brief lull where we fall into a calm routine for a couple weeks. Then suddenly, the baby throws me another monkey wrench and cluster feeds 14 times in one day, or refuses to nap for hours on end. You know the drill.
It took a couple months to hit the point where: although my son is always changing and presenting new challenges, I finally feel extremely confident in what I’m doing.
For me it went something like this…
“I just have to keep this baby and myself alive”–> “This is SO hard. How am I gonna do this?”–> “OMG I will never do this again” –> “Ok, it’s getting a little easier”–> Until finally: “Haven’t seen that before, but I can figure this out!”
The only constant in a new parent’s life is there is no constant. But you actually kind of get used to that. At least I did. So the whole raising a baby thing felt as under control as it ever would. Check!
Meanwhile, I realized I had started responding more to my own needs out of necessity when I was pregnant. But that was different. It was more about the responsibility to keep myself healthy and protect the life growing inside me.
It wasn’t until after giving birth and getting home from the hospital that I realized the importance of tending to baby’s immediate needs, then spending the time to figure out what I needed. I wasn’t always successful until it was too late, and by that I mean… breaking down into tears because I wish I had spoken up about not being able to handle something before just silently shouldering the burden.
It finally all began to change.
Thankfully though, slowly but surely… I began listening to myself. Finally realizing what I could and couldn’t handle. Everyday, I took stock of how I felt and what I needed. Subconsciously at first. And consciously once I realized how much better I was starting to feel. For me, self care meant:
I was tense and sore from giving birth and lifting my son. So I got massages.
I needed to relax and get away from the house for a while. So I got a pedicures.
I missed using certain skincare products while pregnant. So I got a facial.
I needed something comfy to nurse in. So I bought a new robe. (Check one out from one of my favorite brands, Kindred Bravely, and get 20% off your first purchase!)
I had back and neck pain. So I visited a chiropractor for the first time in my life.
I had been ignoring my rosacea for years. So I went to the dermatologist.
Anyone who knows me is probably laughing right now because they know how cheap and frugal I am. I love saving money. I rarely spend it. But this is the ONE TIME in my life, cost was no issue. Not only did I feel I deserved these things after giving birth. I truly felt like I needed them to heal physically and mentally.
Get to know yourself.
I’m not suggesting you also have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars to take care of yourself. I’m suggesting you LISTEN AND GET TO KNOW TO YOURSELF. Start by making a list of things you love. Or things that relax and calm you. Which of these things can you begin incorporating back into your life? And what support do you need to do so? Hopefully, there are also things that fill up your cup that are free or inexpensive, or covered by insurance.
Whether it’s a latte, a long walk in the park, reading your favorite book, calling a friend to vent, journaling, a few hours to binge watch your favorite trash TV, a tall glass of wine, a warm bubble bath, a slice of cheesecake, having your significant other rub your back, setting healthy boundaries, saying No to something you don’t want to add to your plate, trying a new healthy recipe, a slow yoga practice. Or just stepping outside for a minute to take a deep breath when baby is crying inconsolably. Whatever it is, you know what you need.
It’s both taking care of your physical and mental health, while indulging in some guilty pleasures. To me, self care is any and all of those things. Because what’s the point of all this if you can’t have a little fun?
I love how my Amma New Mama class group leader explained it “You have to put your oxygen mask on before assisting others.” Because baby needs you to survive right now. But you can’t fully care for anyone else, unless you’re ok first.
We already know you have a long to-do list fulfilling your obligations as a mother, wife, girlfriend, fiancee, daughter, sister, friend, employee, boss, cook, cleaner, caretaker, pet owner and every other hat you wear. We’re not talking about those things.
So tell me, mama. Are you ready for some restorative self care? Get my free Motherhood Self-Care Guide with easy tips to care for your mind, body, and heart.
And feel free to check out my little self care gift shop if you want to treat yourself (or pamper a friend) with something special today while supporting this blog and other mama-owned businesses!
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