It is a given—the moment your first child is born, your time and energy will be focused on nurturing, loving, and caring for your child. And just when you think it’s going to get better and a lot less stressful when they grow up, you find your hands full with other tasks to accomplish and different needs to meet.
While motherhood is lovely, societal expectations and unfair portrayals in media—superhero moms who can do everything all at once and still have time for perfectly manicured nails—are unrealistic. It can give some mothers a sense of failure, even exacerbating the effects of postpartum depression.
You cannot pour from an empty cup. An exhausted, distressed mom has little energy or temperament to offer her loved ones. Taking the time to take care of yourself is essential.
Whether you set aside a few minutes or an entire day for yourself, here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Plan Your Day.
Take a few minutes to reflect on the various areas of your life and ask yourself how you feel about each. Which areas can you start working on, and which will take a little more time? It may be beneficial to record your thoughts in a journal. Once you have identified your immediate needs, try sticking to that schedule. Finding an open day or time can help you prioritize self-care. For example, if your baby usually falls asleep around 1:30 p.m., use this time for yourself.
Plan for larger events just for you, such as a monthly spa date with a friend, a bike trip with the girls, exercise classes, coffee dates, and walks with friends, and make a note of it in your day planner. It will not happen if you do not prioritize it as you do all your other responsibilities.
2. Share Chores or Tasks with the Family
As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child—it’s no easy task. With the absence of the right support, any mother can easily feel overwhelmed, making them more susceptible to post-partum depression, anxiety, distress, and a host of other mental and physical ailments. Do not be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Divide and distribute tasks among you and your partner or family members. Be vocal about your needs. You will be surprised at how much people are willing to help.
3. Make Time for Your Health
Being so hyper-focused on your child’s health, growth, and development may lead you to forget about your own. However, if you don’t take care of yourself, stress, exhaustion, burnout, and illnesses can occur or worsen.
Eat a balanced diet and carve out a time for a regular doctor appointment or medical checkup to ensure that you are in tip-top shape.
4. Keep in Touch with Friends
One can maintain an identity outside of motherhood. Mothers are not just mothers—they are individuals with an identity separate from their partner, child, and family. This sense of identity, bolstered through social interactions and fostered in friendships, is unique prior to having a child and can remain even in the transition to motherhood. During a pandemic, find time to make a phone call or Zoom with your friends. It’s amazing how much lighter you’ll feel after catching up with friends and family and updating them on your life (and hearing about theirs, too).
5. Have a Dedicated Self-Care Routine
You need to identify what aspects of self-care matters most to you. It will be different for everyone, but here are some excellent ideas:
- Pamper yourself. While there is no shortage of beauty advice out there, taking time out of your busy schedule to build up healthy skincare habits can help moisturize your skin and lighten dark circles.
- Meditate. Mindful meditation is a tried-and-true method of rejuvenation. It also has health benefits: according to research, meditating can help reduce anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress, and fatigue.
- Read. Putting down your phone and immersing yourself in the pages of a good book before bed can help you unwind after a long day. Consider joining a virtual book club with friends to keep yourself motivated.
Take Care of Yourself, Too
Any busy mom understands the value of time. It never appears to be enough, and making time for self-care is probably at the bottom of your priority list. Still, moms need to prioritize self-care.
When you practice self-care, your mood improves, your stress levels decrease, you become more optimistic, and you have a better work-life balance. It also makes us feel more connected to ourselves and our surroundings. Taking the time to do things that nurture you is what self-care entails. It’s about treating yourself with the same kindness that you do others.
By Penelope Martinez