In my humble opinion, there are 3 phases in life - BC, WC and GC.
- BC = Before Children
- WC = With Children
- GC = Grown Children
If you're reading this then you are in phase #2 already or very nearly there (aka pregnant) and we can all agree that phase #1 becomes a blur when you venture into life with children. You can faintly remember what it was like to leave the house with a dainty cross-body purse and form-fitting (possibly non-stretch) denim. And it's likely you showered and did your makeup every day - especially if you planned on leaving the house.
Can you remember your BC (Before Children) life?
When it comes to self-care - taking time to re-charge, pamper and connect with yourself is almost a no-brainer when you're in the BC phase. Feeling stressed at work? Take a mental health day. Needing some alone time? Find a good book and stay in on a Saturday night.
Even if you were in a relationship, it was easy to find time to breathe, de-stress and pay attention to how your were feeling. Self care happened often BC.
But now you have a baby...or more kids. In WC, life is hectic. Just the fact that your sleep patterns are based around the demanding needs of a small human being is enough to send people to the edge of insanity. We learn to deal with it because we love our babies. We would go to the ends of the earth for our little prince or princess.
But I'm here to tell you that you CANNOT give up self care for them.
Don't do it. The results are never good.
The truth is, baby girl or baby boy doesn't want you to give up taking care of yourself. A happier, healthy momma = a happier baby. Self care is more important in this phase than ever. But it won't look the same as it did during your phase #1. It's trickier and you need to get good at scheduling it on a regular basis rather than waiting for the "check engine" light to come on.
Here are 5 Self Care "events" I follow that can help you schedule and create your own self care routine.
1. DAILY - As in every. Single. Day.
- When: Morning (like during baby's first nap)
- Time: 5 minutes
- What: Positive Affirmations
Being a mom is tough and you might have already noticed that it's easy to get down on yourself. It's easy to criticize and compare. To combat those negative feelings, you need to take a few minutes to say an affirmation like the one below (or your own version) out loud to yourself every day. (tip - save the image below to your phone) Read it to yourself until you have it memorized. How you speak to yourself matters. You will manifest whatever you tell yourself - so you need to practice being loving, encouraging and kind. Repeat it at least 3x.
2. WEEKLY - At least 1x per week.
- When: Middle of the "work week" (like Wednesday)
- Time: 30 minutes +
- What: Get Dressed & Leave the House
My husband works Monday through Friday so Wednesday is my middle of the week slump. It's also usually the day that I feel lowest because I'm resenting the grind of the routine (or lack of the routine I planned) but the weekend feels so far away. It's also usually when I discover that I am wearing the same clothes since Monday. For this self-care event - you need to get yourself dressed/ready to actually leave the house. Just doing this will make you feel better. Then get baby/kids in the car/stroller and leave. Where will you go? Wherever you need to. Go to the park. Go get drive-through coffee or lunch. Go to Target. Just drive. You just need to leave the house. Play your music. Wear sunglasses. Take selfie pictures of you and baby out in the sunshine. And when someone asks what you did today - you have something to say besides "naps" and "feeding."
3. MONTHLY - It takes a bit of planning
- When: Whatever works best for you but it must be completed by end of month
- Time: 2 hours +
- What: Do Something Just for YOU
There are just 2 rules involved with this event: (1) No kids allowed. It doesn't count if Dad takes one kid and you wear the baby while walking around a department store. You must be totally baby-free with no interruptions for at least 2 hours (no less) once a month. And (2) No checking off your chore list. It doesn't count if your parents watch the kids while you go to the grocery store. Or if your husband takes the kiddos to the park and you clean the kitchen. Does. Not. Count. You need to take at least 2 hours to yourself. Have a massage and get a pedicure. Go read a book at a coffee shop. Go shopping (for yourself - not the kids.) Find your hobbies and passions and make time for them. AND this will only work if you schedule it on the calendar. "It's the first of the month - I'm planning on taking my "me" time on Saturday, the 14th at 10am." And unless it is an emergency, don't skip it.
4. QUARTERLY - Every 3 months.
- When: Whatever works but make sure to plan it ahead of time
- Time: All Day
- What: "Friends" Day
Believe it or not, just being with other adults is important for your own personal mental health. This event is all about planning to spend an entire day away from the baby/kids with one or more adults who are important to you. The "adults" could be close friends, a sister, a mother or even attending an event like a conference. The point is to get away from your daily routine and mingle with other people. You might notice that I didn't list your husband/partner as an option and that's because you see/talk with him on a regular basis. I highly recommend having date nights with your partner on a regular basis and taking vacations (see next tip) as just a duo but this tip is about having you connect with the other important people in your life. The ones who tend to take a spot on your back-burner when you're swamped in babyhood.
5. ANNUALLY - Make a Commitment
- When: Anniversary or same time each year
- Time: 3 days +
- What: Travel
I am the biggest home-body you will find but even I like to get away. I'm not suggesting that you go into major debt to travel but you need to leave behind your regular routine for a few days and see another spot in the world. This could be a bed and breakfast in the next town or an adventure to another country. Do what works for you. Plus this is definitely the time to include your partner/spouse. I mention taking a trip around your anniversary because every year that you are together is a milestone worth celebrating. Don't let the mundane schedule of daily life drown out a more than worthy reason to reflect and embrace your commitment to one another. The best example you can set for your children about love is how you and your partner treat one another. You'll feel renewed and so will your husband. Remember the happier you both are, the happier your kids will be.
I want to make sure to mention that I am not a mental health care expert and if at any time you are concerned about Post Partum Depression, Anxiety, etc - PLEASE talk to your doctor right away. Ask for help. You are not alone in your feelings and there are so many resources to help you.
So what do you think? Can you make some extra room in your life to take care of yourself? Please do! Hang in there Momma - you are doing an awesome job!
Have a magical day!