How to start prioritising self-care in motherhood

By Bryce Reddy @mombrain.therapist

 

When was the last time you did something just for you?

That you started your week and knew that each day you had time set aside to invest in your wellbeing and self-care?

 

When I work with mothers, it’s not uncommon for them not to recall the last time they did something for themselves or to not know when it would happen again if they did. No wonder we’re often left feeling so depleted and exhausted!

 

So how do we turn this around? How do we start integrating our own needs and wellbeing into our everyday lives as parents?

 

In my experience it starts with tiny habits and rituals we place into our days.

 

In the book The Power of Full Engagement the authors (Loehr & Schwartz) state that “instead of focusing on cultivating self-discipline as a means toward change, we need to introduce rituals.” Meaning, we aren’t going to will ourselves into creating change around taking care of ourselves sporadically, but rather we need to build it into our lives in a way that we become intimately aware of what we are doing and why. 

 

Rituals, are actions we intentionally perform, not for someone else, but for ourselves. To observe ourselves taking this step to honor our needs. And within this discussion of taking better care of ourselves in parenthood, this might look like taking actions that we KNOW will help us feel more nurtured and supported in our lives and roles as caregivers. Something “just for us” that allows us to “show up” in the ways we want and hope to.

 

When I work with mothers on establishing these new routines and rituals, we tend to focus on what some might call the “basics”. Showering, making sure you’re eating, movement & exercise and so much more. And while some might scoff and think those aren’t “self-care” or are a waste of time to put intention into, these are all things that often aren’t getting done at all or at least consistently in the early months and years of parenting. So, by placing intention and value on them we can begin to make them a part of our everyday lives, opening up the possibility of more fulfilling self-care practices in the future.

 

As you begin to integrate new practices into your lives, I recommend scheduling them to start. Opening up your planner on Sunday night (or whenever) and identifying little things you can do for yourself during the week that would be “just for you” and assist you in better meeting your needs. That might mean taking a shower a few times a week, writing in your journal each night before bed or simply making sure you’re feeding and watering yourself adequately during your days. 
Now you might be asking, do I really need to schedule these things? Well, you don’t have to, but it helps! If we want to prioritize something (like ourselves and our self-care) we need to build rituals around it so that it actually happens. By scheduling it in, we are saying “this is important”. Not just to ourselves, but to our families as well. And while this likely won’t be needed forever, it certainly helps to get the ball rolling in the short-term.
Some additional benefits of scheduling self-care practices might be:
  • It’s more likely to happen! Which means we ourselves and our family are more likely to see the benefits of our actions.
  • It becomes important to the family. So often our children’s “stuff” is the only thing on the family schedule. But scheduling our own is a way to model that our needs are also important.
  • There is value in modeling ALL of these behaviors. We want our kids to see us taking care of ourselves. And by letting them see you schedule and VALUE these things, they will be more likely to do it for themselves some day.

Moving forward from this article, try identifying 3 things that would help you feel more nurtured and taken care of in this season of motherhood. Determine what those 3 things would “look like” in action and schedule them into your life this week.

 

Each time you perform those actions observe yourself doing them, acknowledge why you are doing them and feel the feelings that come up from this simple action. You might be surprised at how good it feels and want to continue!

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