I'm a helper. I always have been. It's one of the reasons I'm a doula, childbirth educator and placenta remedies specialist. If I can help someone's pregnancy, labour or postpartum period flow a little more smoothly or feel more positive, I'm all for it. I gain a great sense of joy knowing I have helped someone else.
You know what else I'm good at? Forgetting about myself. It's easy to get so wrapped up in helping others and being there for others while simultaneously neglecting myself. Call it a weakness, a character flaw, whatever... I know it's an issue and one that I need to address not once, but repeatedly.
My baby boy was born five months ago. Add to that a toddler that is having serious difficulty adjusting and my world has been... chaotic. I have been dedicating my time to my four children, my marriage, my business and other obligations all the while forgetting about me.
Enter self-care. Self-care is a topic I'm seeing all over the internet more and more- this is a good thing! At one point if you're not practicing good self-care, you hit a wall... and it was only recently that I hit mine. *BOOM* *SMACK* *BAM* *WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!?*
Self-care forces you to answer:
HOW CAN I TAKE CARE OF MYSELF WHILE CARING FOR MY FAMILY + ALL THE OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES IN MY LIFE?
Even reading that may feel overwhelming! So often mums (and dads!) struggle with the guilt of wanting to help everyone with everything all the time while also knowing that choosing to do so means they are neglecting their own needs in some way.
SELF- CARE IS NOT SELFISH OR BEING SELF ABSORBED!
Self-care does not have to be spending lots of money on spa trips or other forms of expensive pampering. This is how it's often portrayed but it completely misses the mark for many people. Self-care doesn't have to be something that requires you to take a lot of time out of your already busy schedule either. In fact, self-care is often more effective if it is something that is practiced in some way every day. Have you ever heard "you can't pour from an empty cup"? Your "cup" is much more likely to never be empty if you're topping it up every day!
Some easy ways to practice self-care:
- Taking a nap by yourself
- Practicing mindfulness while breastfeeding or bottle feeding
- Taking a few deep, long breaths
- Adding an extra minute or two onto your shower
- Going for a short walk
- Sitting down to eat a hot meal
- Painting your nails
- Spend a few minutes out in nature- a short walk, planting a few flowers to brighten up your space, or feeding birds
Of course you could also do some bigger things when you can! Maybe you want to join a weekly postnatal yoga class, go to the cinema, do some type of pampering, buy a few new outfits, have a coffee date with a friend. There are so many unique ways to practice self-care and what's appealing to someone may be way off the radar for another.
I personally decided to give kayaking a go with Get West Limerick! It's something I've wanted to do for years and I was tired of finding excuses not to. For me, self-care really involves being either alone or with other adults. Read- no children to look after or worry about! Kayaking has also allowed me to meet other people, try something new and get in some exercise! It feels so rewarding to look after me, let go of the mom guilt while filling my own cup so I'm more present while helping others in my life.
If you're not practicing self-care, get on it! You will be happy you did!