We can all agree that a spa day once a month and getting our nails done sounds lovely. But, how much of “spoiling ourselves” is true to the concept of self-care?
I’d like to share one of my recent experiences. Postpartum has brought a great deal of change to my life, as it should. We all know that this new human will shift the daily movement of the house and affect sleep.
What I didn’t expect was the emotional change. To be honest, I felt beyond down and burned out. Now I know how small this may seem, but combined with the stress of becoming a mom of two- it felt huge. No longer was a hot shower or a long walk down the grocery store aisles alone enough to make me feel like myself. Why? Because who I am has changed. I definitely anticipated change with my first baby, but the second time I believed that motherhood would continue on mostly the same with minor added difficulties. I decided to take a long hard look at what was making me feel less than awesome. Let me share which real life issues were causing discomfort and how I implemented self-care practices to prevent burn out.
Can you relate to these realities?
1. My body is not my own
These hands are guiding my toddler to the potty (often too late), off the counter before he steps on dinner and across parking lots towards “rocket” (what he calls my car). My back is wearing my carrier hours on end to keep my newborn close and hunched over to nurse. These tired feet are running back and forth between the washing machine and the dishwasher.
2. Cleanliness is… impossible
Covered in breast milk, dealing with all the diapers and helping my two year old learn to use the potty: what smells is probably me! Also, when can I shower alone?
3. Home base
Going anywhere seems like an all day activity with two. Loading and unloading… repeat. Feeling shut in and lonely.
4. To do list
Getting any of the many things on my to do list seems unachievable when my life is consumed with littles and work. How can I get more hours in my day… or more hands?
What is self-care?
Self-care is NOT lavishing yourself with chocolate and going to get weekly manicures. It’s not indulgent.
Self-care is more pure joy, more grace for yourself and mindfulness. It is preventative. What are we preventing? That icky state we fall into when our lives no long feel intentional, illness and being worn thin (i.e. that burnout we talked about earlier). Below I’m going to list what worked for me and you should explore which of the suggested activities might work for you!
How can self-care help?
REALITY: I need to feed my littles, help my toddler and maintain my home… even if my body aches at the end of the day.
RESPONSE: Find a physical activity to strengthen your body and raise endorphins (mood elevating hormones).
Yoga is the number one activity that makes me feel like myself. It helps me to be mindful of where I’m holding tension and reminds me to breathe through my activities. What is that one physical activity that brings you back to who you are? Hold on to it and set aside the time. In order to get in my 30 minutes of yoga (with Adriene), I go to bed early and wake up before the boys wake. It feels like Christmas morning, sneaking out of bed to be by myself for an hour.
Suggestions: Hiking (another one of my favorites), walks, high intensity training, running or barre. If you have a little one, maybe walk to the park or attend a mommy & me workout class. If you’re local, I like Modern Milk for great mom friendly classes (and they have child care for during class).
RESPONSE: Establish a routine and then review it with your partner so they can support you. Night time is the best time for me to take a nice shower (alone, gasp). Somewhere along the way, my skin care routine turned from a ritual of self-love into a quick “I have to do this” activity. Taking my time and enjoying the aroma of my products has brought the care back into my home care routine. I slowly clear away the dirt and oil from the day with my Rose hip + Green Tea Cleanser. I pay close attention to the sensations of the product on my skin and allow the grapefruit scent to help me let go of the day’s troubles. I walk through the Chamomile + Tea tree Toning Mist like a queen and massage the Elderflower + Avocado Moisturizer into my skin feeling that burst of hydration.
Also, I’m adding a monthly trip to see Amber at the Knot Salon. I’ve realized that sitting quietly for an hour helps to clear my head, help with the health of my hair and makes feel better about myself. Plus, Amber’s scalp massage during the shampoo is on point.
Suggestions: Anything that makes you feel great that also helps with your all over health/wellness. Facial treatments for postpartum, baths, chiropractic services, reading, hot showers, talking through your thoughts with a professional or acupuncture.
REALITY: Spending time at home is sometimes necessary.
RESPONSE: Get outside. It’s easy to spend your whole day inside and feel like a stuffy shut in by sundown. At least while the weather allows, we’ve been playing in the back or front yard in the morning. We also started a garden to get outside. My toddler is never as happy as when he can pick a vegetable right off a plant and eat it. If you feel like leaving the house, but not going anywhere really “public,” hiking and walks to the park also make for good family time. It’s been proven that being outside helps to clear the mind, lift spirits and can actually improve your health.
REALITY: Things have to get done.
RESPONSE: You cannot do it all, all the time, at once. Coming to terms with this has changed my outlook. However, I can do is set my main goals and take things one step at a time. For me, self-care is letting go and sometimes saying no. This can be uncomfortable at first. If something isn’t your priority, you shouldn’t feel guilty for not focusing it. Give yourself grace. Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism taught me that saying no to the things you don’t need means making room in your life for those things that mean everything: your kids, your health and your time.
Suggestions: List those things that are important and then focus them. What are you doing that doesn’t help your list thrive? Let those things go.
Some days are still difficult, because Motherhood will never stop being challenging. But (and it’s a big but), implementing self-care means having the headspace to be able to enjoy the beauty of this time amongst the chaos.