Becoming a parent is the greatest gift life can bring. Nothing compares to those feelings of pure unconditional love a mother feels for her child. But as fulfilling, exciting and heartwarming as it can be, it’s also exhausting. The early years can bring with them countless sleepless nights, and the demand on your attention is unrelenting.
Some mothers feel like it’s selfish to take time away from their children, but the truth is, caring for yourself and fulfilling your own needs can only help you feel healthier and more whole. You are not an endless fountain of energy; it has to come from somewhere! Even half an hour a day doing something that relaxes you or recharges you and gets you in touch with who you are can do wonders.
What do YOU need?
Most parenting blogs and articles out there seem to agree it’s important for mothers to carve out time for themselves. But every mother is unique, and each one of you will have a different idea about what self-care means for you.
If you used to be a social butterfly who loved spending time with friends before you had kids, then taking a quiet bubble bath with some herbal tea every night might not actually be what you need. Perhaps you need to plan a girl’s night out and go dancing instead.
Maybe your idea of a good time is going for a walk by yourself every night when your partner comes home from work. Or maybe it’s hauling out your old acrylic paints from the closet and painting for an hour. Maybe it’s simply wrapping yourself in your favourite old sweater and daydreaming while you look out your kitchen window without interruption for twenty minutes.
No matter what it is, it’s important to find a way to make it happen so you can continue to care for your loved ones without becoming depleted and worn out.
Asking for help
In order to get a break, you will need to ask for help. This can be very difficult for some mothers, and some might even feel they don’t really WANT to be away from their baby, especially if they have an infant. But it really doesn’t matter if you leave the home or not. Some of you might feel perfectly comfortable going to a coffee shop or out to a movie, but if not, that’s fine.
If you would prefer to be within hearing range of your baby, you could ask your partner or a friend or family member to come hold your baby or amuse your toddler while you take some time for yourself. If you don’t have a partner, consider finding a mother’s helper who can come over for an hour a few times a week. You can also swap childcare with a friend; you can watch her baby one day and she can watch yours another day.
The possibilities are endless, and you will be amazed at how spending even a short amount of time doing something for yourself every day can make a big difference. Remembering who you were as a woman and taking the time to honour that part of you and care for it can go great lengths to helping you parent, and will benefit the whole family in the long run.