Self-care. Weʼve heard the phrase, but are we actually doing it? Are we letting go of the feelings of “mama-guilt” or thoughts such as “I donʼt have time”? Or, do we feel stressed, tired and maybe, at times, a little resentful of the things we donʼt get to do since we had our sweet little ones? I have felt all of these things and had all of these thoughts. So whatʼs a mama supposed to do?
After my son was born, I felt, to put it lightly, awful. I was so incredibly tired, hormonal and emotional. The newborn stage was the most trying time of my life. All of the focus was on taking care of this little human. I didnʼt even think about taking care of me.
Once we were past the newborn stage, I still felt guilt about leaving baby to do some self-care. I donʼt ever remember my mom getting “me-time”, so why should I? It wasnʼt until a friend described self-care using an analogy that I finally got it. When on an airplane, when the flight attendant is giving safety instruction, they always say “Put your air mask on before helping others with theirs”.
So, how does a busy mom fit in self-care? While Iʼm still learning Iʼd like to share some thoughts and ideas that have been helpful to me for the past 9 months. I have one child, so I know for moms with more than one at home this is a bit more of a challenge. Do your best.
1) Ask for Help
No, really, ask for help. This is something I still struggle with, but Iʼm getting better. I felt so much guilt leaving my baby with my husband to go to an hour Yoga class, or even a walk around the block for that matter. But after the conversation with my friend, I almost had to force myself. I always felt so good after I did, and I felt more present and patient with my son and husband. You donʼt have to leave the house to do self-care, but sometimes itʼs a good idea to get out by yourself for a bit. So, ask your partner, trusted friend, family member, etc. ahead of time if they wouldnʼt mind watching your little one(s) for a short-period of time while you step out. Again, when you are ready, or as ready as youʼll ever be.
2) Focus on Health
Being healthy while caring for your family can be a challenge, especially if the household budget allows only enough funds for health visits for your kiddos. These visits, however, are important, and by taking the time to get an acupuncture treatment, massage, or chiropractic adjustment or any other healing modality you love, you are not only reducing stress producing hormones in your body, but also boosting your immune system and eliminating aches and pains. This not only teaches your kids the importance of taking care of yourself, but also puts your body back in to balance, so time with your children is spent feeling your best.
Food and meal prep can be a challenge as well. However, anything you put in to your body feeds vitality, or feeds stress, anxiety and illness. I use about one to two hours on the weekend (usually a Sunday) to prep some food for the week to make healthy meals quicker to prepare. I have also become good friends with my slow cooker. You can include your kids and have them help, or if you have a baby, you can wear him or her while you prep. It also helps to make sure only healthy options are available for quick meals and snacks so one isnʼt tempted to eat something that wonʼt make you a healthy mama.
3) A Little Goes a Long Way
When it comes to self-care, for me, itʼs not something I have to do daily to feel itʼs effects. If you can make time for 1 acupuncture session a month, great! If you can spend 15 minutes taking a bath uninterrupted, fantastic! Itʼs all about balance.
4) Do Something You Enjoy
Do self-care that makes you feel rejuvenated. If it has been so long since youʼve included some self-care in to your life, here is a list of things you can try:
• A walk outside
• A bath
• Massage therapy
• Chiropractic adjustment • Energy work/Reiki
Letʼs banish the thought of self-care being selfish and understand that itʼs not a “treat” but a necessity. The love and care a mother gives her child is unlike anything else. How amazing would it be if our children were able to see their mom love and care for herself as well?
About the Author
Stephanie Braunwarth is a board-certified Licensed Acupuncturist with a special focus in womenʼs health, fertility and nutrition. Stephanieeducates her patients about the importance of treating the underlying cause of a health condition and encourages them to take an active role in their health.
Stephanie serves patients at Des Moines Acupuncture Clinic in Des Moines.