Today marks eight weeks since I gave birth to little man and became a mother. As most moms will attest to, being a mother is a never ending job. You’re on duty 24/7, even when you’re sleeping, and often times the needs of your baby take priority over your own basic needs.
My first couple of weeks at home with little man put me on an emotional roller coaster that I was completely unprepared for. Between my changing hormones, trying my best to stay on top of meeting the baby’s needs, and being utterly exhausted, there were some times when I burst into tears for no apparent reason. I remember sitting at the table eating dinner with Preston, my parents, and my father-in-law a week after little man was born, when all of a sudden I started crying, partly out of pure exhaustion and partly out of the fact that little man was very fussy that evening and nothing I did seemed to make him happy, which made me feel like I was a horrible mother. That night, my mom and father-in-law stayed up with him while Preston and I got a couple of hours of much needed sleep. After getting a couple of hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep, I felt like an entirely different person.
I’m beyond grateful that my mom stayed with us for the first three weeks of little man’s life. With her here, there were times when I felt like I was barely functioning, so I can only imagine how much more lost I would have felt had she not been here. During the time that she was here, I made it a priority to take advantage of the extra help to be able to get out of the house on my own when I could. My first trip out by myself was a quick 15 minute trip to the post office. It felt so odd to be out on my own, but that quick errand prompted me to realize just how important taking time for myself is, especially since I have somebody else depending on me for pretty much everything.
That solo trip to the post office quickly evolved into making time to get out of the house for walks a priority. Whether it was on the trail near our house or at the gym on the treadmill, I found walking during those early weeks as a new mom to be my outlet. It was a way for me to take a deep breath and step away from the stress of taking care of a baby, even if only for a short time. When I was cleared at my four week postpartum checkup to start running again, I didn’t hesitate at all to get started right away. Now at eight weeks postpartum, exercise continues to be my outlet, not just for the physical benefit of exercise but also for the emotional benefit as well.
Exercise is not the only way to take care of myself though. And although its easy to put my physical and emotional needs on the back burner when the baby’s needs combined with the demands of taking care of household chores and errands seem to take up every waking moment, taking care of myself is so important for my sanity. Being able to step away from the stresses at home to focus on myself, whether its for five minutes or an hour, will in the long run make me a better mother to my little man.
So when I first found about Coach Mar’s 14 Days of Self Challenge, I immediately jumped at the chance to be reminded on a daily basis about the importance of taking care of myself. Some days its easy to forget that I need to take care of myself, especially when little man is having a rough day, but its on those days especially that I need to find a few minutes for myself. Over the course of the two week challenge, there were a number of ways that I was able to take care of myself, including making time for a daily shower, treating myself to a sweet treat, and going to the chiropractor for an adjustment. While some might view making time for myself as selfish, I’m choosing to see it as the opportunity to take care of myself in order to be the best mother that I can be. Stepping away and focusing on myself, whether for a few minutes or a few hours, allows me to return refreshed and ready to pour all of my energy into little man’s wants and needs.
Even though Mar’s challenge ended on Sunday, my goal is to continue to do something for myself each day, even if its something as small as making time for a shower. And while I made doing something for myself each day one of my February goals, my hope is that by continuing to focus on self care during the rest of this month that it’ll become more routine and won’t require as much thought going forward.
QOTD: How do you practice self care?