- Self-care is the practice of doing something for yourself that either maintains or improves your mental or physical health.
- Selfless new Mums struggle to make time for themselves but self-care can be easily incorporated into busy days with your baby.
- Our blog challenges your concept of self-care and offers ideas on how new Mums can do more for their mental and emotional health.
You may have heard the saying promoting the benefits of, “you have to put your own oxygen mask on first” but when you become a time-poor, selfless new Mum, self-care feels like a luxury or a guilty pleasure.
However, post-natal self-care becomes more critical than ever to help new Mums cope with fluctuating hormones, sleep deprivation and an ever-changing new role. Carving out some time for yourself every day to do something that fills you up mentally and physically, even if it is just 5 minutes can help you not only survive but thrive as a new Mum.
Our blog series explores how you can reframe your mindset and see daily self-care as a necessity not a luxury to help you not only be a better Mum but a better individual. We offer inspiring ideas to help you easily incorporate your own self-care rituals into your busy day with your baby to restore your mental, emotional and physical health.
What is Self-Care?
By definition, self-care is doing something for yourself that either maintains or improves your mental or physical health. Self-care looks different for everyone and will change on a daily basis depending on your babies’ schedule (or lack of) and how you are feeling.
Some days, self-care could mean getting out of the house with your baby for a walk in the sunshine or to meet a friend. Or some days when you can’t face the world, self-care could mean watching a funny movie while you breastfeed on the couch or while your baby naps. Some days, even a shower will feel like a self-care achievement!
The key is to listen to your body and look for small things you can incorporate into your day with your baby that you enjoy and fill you up like allowing yourself an afternoon nap with your baby. It’s important to carve out time for a few self-care activities that fuel you mentally and physically and this may require some creativity. Not every single decision will be perfect but start small and strive for progress, not perfection.
Making Self-care a Priority
Even when you know about the importance of self-care, it can be hard to actually put it into practice without making it a priority. As parents, we put our children first, but we also need to take responsibility for taking care of ourselves. Your identity as a parent does not mean that you should lose yourself as an individual. You have needs too. Tell yourself that self-care is a necessity not a luxury and if you make it a priority it will become a habit and you will be healthier physically, emotionally, and mentally as a result.
Mental and Emotional Self-care
When you become a new Mum, even the most resilient women can struggle with their mental and emotional health. This is why even when you think you don’t have time, reframe your mindset and set aside even five minutes every day to do something you enjoy doing. You can’t be the mentally strong woman you want to be when you are running on empty, fill your own cup up first!
Ideas to nurture your mental and emotional health could include:
- Ask your partner or friend to watch your baby to allow yourself time to take a shower or bath every day. Just as you bathe your baby, you deserve to feel clean too!
- Sleep when your baby sleeps! Operating sleep deprived is inevitable as a mother which can really make it hard to even think clearly, let alone cope with the pressures of your new role. The less you sleep the higher your stress and anxiety will be and vice versa. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s important to help your mental game as much as you can by sleeping, or resting when your baby sleeps. Research has shown that even a 5-15 minute nap can result in immediate improved cognitive performance (brain power), increased alertness, better mood and memory. Sleeping with your baby is also a beautiful bonding experience and being close to you can replicate the wound for the baby helping them feel safe. This can help them go to sleep faster and sleep longer resulting in a more rested mother and baby.
- If you don’t need to sleep, leave the washing if you can and use the time while your baby is sleeping to do a hobby you enjoy. This could be anything from drawing, painting, reading, DIY, photography, baking, listening to music or an audiobook on your headphones. It could even be shopping online if that is your favourite pastime.
- You could start a WhatsApp or Facebook hobby group with your friends such as a monthly book club, recipe swapping, podcast sharing or even sharing funny memes or articles that bring a smile to everyone’s day.
- Phone or video call a friend. Motherhood can be isolating and if you are having a lonely day phone a friend or loved one while you are folding washing or doing housework. Don’t rely on digital messaging because you are too tired, pick up the phone and you may find even a five-minute conversation can lift your mood and boost your mental health.
- You don’t need a sitter for a date night, create one at home and get dressed up, light a candle and order in your favourite takeaways for you and your partner.
- Try meditation! Meditation has shown amazing benefits for mental health but many people have the misconception that you need to sit in a silent room for an hour to get the benefits. However, research has shown even a two-minute meditation can help you feel more relaxed and balanced. It can also help focus that monkey Mum mind where you are thinking about a million things or trying to do them all at once. If you are new to this practice then try our simple, 8-minute meditation here or download meditation apps such as InsightTimer, Headspace or com. Like anything, meditation is a practice and gets easier over time but stick with it as it can also help you become a more patient and engaged parent.
- Mindfulness is a form of meditation and the practice of being fully engaged and focused in the present moment. It means that you are not looking at your phone or thinking about dinner, you are paying attention to the details around you now. The easiest way to start a mindfulness practice is to incorporate it into your daily routine such as being fully present breastfeeding, bathing your baby or even talking to your partner. When you start this practice try to focus on the moment using all of your senses. For example, at bath time focus on the smell of your baby, the feel of the water or soap on their skin, and the sound of them giggling as you gently splash them. Breathe in and enjoy this moment.
- If you want to keep a hand in your profession while you are on maternity leave take some time out each week to listen to a podcast or read an article that relates to your industry.
- Take a walk to a favourite place in your neighbourhood such as a beautiful lookout, beach or park bench with your baby and take some time to think about what you are grateful for. If it helps write it down in a gratitude journal or even the notes on your phone. To help practice gratitude, it can help to reframe your mindset and focus on what you GET to do not what you’ve GOT to do. For example, you GET to spend time with your baby, a position many other women would love to have. Pack a picnic, listen to music and enjoy your time with your babe.
Your mental and physical health go hand in hand, our next blog offers self-care tips to support your physical health with better sleep, nutrients and movement you enjoy.
The SleepDrops Research Team
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