I have a confession: I’m a bit uneasy about the term “self-care” for moms. It makes me feel uncomfortable because I know that it can be misunderstood as another “to-do” on the already very long list of to-dos. As a mother, your children’s needs usually come first and yours last. And as a “highly sensitive” mother, your energy can get depleted very quickly by all the stimulation of motherhood: the noise, the emotions and being “on” pretty much all the time. Your feelings, sensations, and emotions can become really overwhelming if you don’t have practices to keep you grounded. I want to show you how self-care can be something that you not only can really look forward to, but can also practice anywhere and anytime. No more trying to stick to a rigid self-care routine that you dread!
Let’s start with what self-care is NOT. Self-care is not a priority for which you need to find motivation. It’s not something you HAVE to squeeze in your already packed schedule. I know your time as a mom is scarce, so I would never want to burden you with more to-dos. So if you feel like you HAVE to have that bubble bath, massage, pedi, or go to that yoga class so that you can cross “self-care” of your to-do list, then it’s not self-care. What is self-care then? Self-care is an attitude. It’s not so much about what you do, but the intention behind your acts. Here are five ideas that can help you move from self-abandonment to self-care:
1.Setting an intention for the day
Setting an intention can be very powerful. When you wake up in the morning, ask yourself, how do I want to feel today? Present, connected, loving, patient, grateful? You can re-set the intention throughout the day and set reminders on your phone. The intention will help you feel grounded throughout the day.
- Shifting your focus from the outside to the inside
Taking care of children takes a lot of energy. You spend all your time making sure your little ones are safe, warm, fed, happy… It’s easy to forget about yourself. Feeling drained is a way for your soul to re-direct your attention to yourself and regain balance. You don’t need to be away from your baby /child or to stop what you’re doing to shift your focus. A simple way to re-connect to yourself is to notice your breath. You don’t need to change your breath, but you can just take three conscious breaths. If you can, put your hand on your heart while you do so. This will send a potent message to your brain that you care about yourself!
- Noticing your internal dialogue
What are you telling yourself? Are you judging yourself, telling yourself you are a bad mom because “(insert inner critic’s comments here”)”? Feeling guilty about (not being able to breastfeed, leaving your little one at daycare, not doing enough around the house, not working/working too much, not enjoying every minute of motherhood…)? Ask yourself: “What am I feeling? What do I need right now? Just taking the time to check with yourself can make a tremendous difference, even when you can’t tend to your needs immediately.
- Practicing self-kindness
You know the mushy gushy feeling you feel for your child? How your heart melts when they smile at you? Well, you were also that child at some point. Try re-chanelling the intense love you feel for your child toward yourself. Looking at a picture of yourself when you were a child can help. Try to be gentle with yourself by remembering all the things you are accomplishing. If you feel upset or overwhelmed, imagine what you would say to your child if s/he were feeling this way. Telling yourself “it’s ok sweetie” can go a really long way. You could even stroke your arm gently while saying it! It may feel awkward at first, but try and see what happens!
Self-care is connecting to your body with all your senses, right here, right now.
- Introducing small pleasures throughout the day
Your body is the gateway to your soul. When you are stressed out and tired, you can easily get stuck in your head. Self-care is connecting to your body with all your five senses, right here, right now. Whether you are stuck at home with a newborn or your 3-year old is throwing a tantrum, there are always ways to introduce small acts of self-care throughout your day. It can be looking out the window until you see a bird, a tree or the moon. It can be noticing the color green wherever you are. I can be taking just one conscious breath. It can be drinking a glass of water, listening to a beautiful song and dancing with your child. It can be lighting a candle.
You can get the FREE self-care checklist for mamas here!
Which practice resonated the most with you? Please share in the comments! 🙂