The Importance of Self-Care As a New Mom
Parenthood is tough, and it takes a lot of learning and patience. It is so easy for new mothers to immerse themselves in caretaking responsibilities and ignore their own needs and goals. It’s hard to find time to relax between endless diaper changes, feeding sessions, cleaning binges, laundry piles, meal preparation, and play dates – but it is vitally important that mothers carve out time every day to practice self care.
Raising a little human takes a toll on mothers, both physically and emotionally. It can become easy to get wrapped up in mom's life! Self-care refers to the situations in which mothers can take the time to nourish themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally. On top of this, societal expectations for new mothers can be crushing. People expect mothers not only to keep a tidy house, cook healthy and delicious meals for their families, stay physically fit, help children with homework and chores, plan fun family outings, do arts and crafts activities with the children, run all the errands, do all the laundry, manage busy schedules but also to do it all with a smile! It is possible for mothers to be truly fulfilled and not bogged down with the endless daily tasks and errands, but this sense of fulfillment will only come if a mother practices self-care on a regular basis.
Self-care can take many forms besides the typical massage appointments or solo shopping sprees. Healthy self-care practices may actually vary from one mother to another. What brings one woman joy may not be the same as what sparks joy for another new mom. Whatever it is that brings you happiness and fulfillment, it is important that mothers find these activities or situations and take the time to nurture these parts of their lives.
Here are 8 ways mothers can practice self-care in their own busy lives:
- Get outside
A breath of fresh air can do wonders for anyone feeling a little stressed out! If you are feeling overwhelmed by the daily duties of parenthood, take a break and go outside. Take a walk with the baby in a stroller or babywearing with a carrier such as the super comfortable KeaBabies Baby Wrap Carrier. Let your baby have some backyard playtime while you relax and sip on a glass of iced coffee or soda. If your baby isn’t walking, you can create a “ball pit” or activity space using a pack-n-play, play yard, or inflatable pool. Dump a bunch of toys or large plastic balls into the play space, and let your baby enjoy some quality time outside while enjoying some independent play. Move the high chair outside or purchase a small portable high chair and enjoy a meal outside, or grab a blanket and have a picnic at the park. If you have a babysitter or a spouse who can watch the baby, get outside for a brisk walk, a jog around the neighborhood, or an evening bike ride. Being in nature has amazing healing powers on the human soul!
- Get moving
Many new mothers feel ashamed or uncomfortable with their postpartum bodies. Maybe it has been difficult to lose the baby weight, maybe a C-section has left you with a belly “pooch,” or maybe what was once toned has become flabby. It is hard to find time to stay physically fit while taking care of a baby, but it’s possible! You have to be intentional about carving out time in your schedule to get active. If you can, join a local gym that has childcare available. If this isn’t possible, many cities have mommy and me workout groups run by local moms that come together and work out with their babies in strollers. You can also lookup workout videos on YouTube or subscribe to streaming workout programs and exercise in the comfort of your own home while your baby plays or naps. It can even be fun to involve your little one in your workouts! Babies can be used as weights, and you can do squats while holding your baby, or lay baby under you while you do pushups. Physical fitness can be empowering and motivating for new mothers. Getting in shape is a wonderful way to practice self-care!
- Get pampered
Most people enjoy practicing self-care by getting pampered. This can mean booking a massage appointment, relaxing in a hot tub, getting a pedicure, going shopping for some new clothes, dying your hair, or trying on some new makeup. If you are feeling burnt out, pampering yourself can really help get you back on track! Find a family member or babysitter to take care of the baby while you book an appointment to get pampered.
- Get relaxed
It’s hard to find time to relax when there are little humans that need to be taken care of, especially when they love to follow you everywhere – even to the bathroom! It is important to find time every day to relax. If you’re feeling exhausted, try to nap while the baby naps. Maybe take a warm bath or have a glass of wine. Attend a yoga class. Practice meditation. Do breathing exercises. Read a book or a magazine. Turn on your favorite show after the baby goes to bed. These can all be ways to help you feel calm and relaxed.
- Get social
Motherhood takes a village – and it’s important to establish that village early on. Find a group of moms that make you feel happy and fulfilled when you spend time with them. Facebook is an easy way to connect local moms together for meet-ups and playdates. There are even phone apps, similar to dating sites, that help connect moms with each other! Letting yourself become lonely and isolated is not ideal for new moms. It is important to nurture friendships with other mothers who are going through similar situations. Sometimes on the most challenging days, just simply being around other people can help tremendously! Don’t be afraid to reach out to your village if you need help. Chances are, there are a lot of people out there that care about you and would be more than willing to lend a listening ear or a helping hand.
- Get educated
Some mothers experience a feeling of loss when they become parents. Perhaps you’ve left school or a career that you were passionate about, in order to pursue motherhood. Becoming a parent doesn’t mean you need to abandon all your goals, including educational ones! It is possible to manage both motherhood and educational aspirations. Thankfully, in today’s digital age, there are many colleges that offer classes and degree programs online, so you can work remotely and at your own pace. Many schools also offer night classes, if you need to attend school while someone watches the baby in the evening. Some campuses even have childcare available. Maybe you’re not trying to earn a degree, but just pick up an extra skill. Grab some books from your local library and read up on a topic of your choosing. You may also want to learn a foreign language through a phone app or computer program. Learning is powerful, and pursuing educational goals can be a great way for moms to practice self-care.
- Get enlightened
Many people practice self-care through meditation or spiritual pursuits. Meditation can be a great way to clear your mind of negative or intrusive thoughts, and become more in tune with your body. There are many meditation groups you can attend, or just download a meditation app for your phone and do it on your own! Mindfulness and meditation work wonders for eliminating anxiousness and burnout. If you are religious, make time to attend a local church on the weekends or set aside time to read and pray on a daily basis. Being part of a spiritual community can be a wonderful way to practice self-care.
- Get encouraged
Lastly, surround yourself with people who build you up mentally. Spend time with friends and family who encourage you to pursue your dreams and motivate you to be the best version of yourself. If you’re feeling discouraged, pick up the phone and call someone you know will listen and empathize with you. Eliminate all toxic relationships from your life, and free yourself from negativity. Practice self-care by surrounding yourself with love and acceptance from others that care about you.
Self-care is vital for moms. Without it, we would all experience burnout and ultimately fail to be good parents. It can be so easy to get bogged down with the day to day duties of parenthood, but it is important to cut out time each and every day to practice self-care. Whether it’s watching a juicy reality show, having a glass of wine on the patio, going to a fitness class, or spending time with a friend, make sure that you find what brings you joy and fulfillment in your life.