The Importance of Self Care as a New Mother

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.

Feeling on top of the world after my first postpartum run

Feeling on top of the world after my first postpartum run

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.

Taking a shower, treating myself to homemade chocolate covered popcorn, and going to the chiropractor were just three of the ways that I practiced self care during the 14 day challenge

Taking a shower, treating myself to homemade chocolate covered popcorn, and going to the chiropractor were just three of the ways that I practiced self care during the 14 day challenge

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?

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52 Responses to The Importance of Self Care as a New Mother

  1. You look FANTASTIC!
    Self-care for me (even though I’m not a mama!) can look so many different ways depending on what it is that I need in that specific moment.

    It can range from yoga to a massage to a bottle of wine for dinner! 🙂

  2. Lesley says:

    I think it’s always important to take care of yourself first. We put so much pressure on new mother’s that’s just not fair. You have so many new responsibilities, but you still need time for yourself.

  3. Chaitali says:

    Definitely not selfish at all! I think it is so important to have a little something to take care of yourself every day and alone time when you can get it. It’s restorative and good for the whole family 🙂 I loved Mar’s challenge and should work on trying to continue it too.

  4. This is such a great post. It’s SO important for you to take time for yourself, and it’s great to have an outlet like running to help manage the stresses that come along with being a new mom! (P.S. You look AWESOME).

  5. Such a great mindset to have because if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t give little man the best you have to offer. I tell my best friend that all the time these days!

  6. I don’t think it’s selfish at all. I think self care is SUPER important and even more important as a Mom. I always think Dads get a lot of time on their own but no one ever thinks about the Mom. I’m glad you’re making yourself a priority.

  7. Even though I have teens now and those days of complete dependence are long gone, I will never forget how my world was rocked after I gave birth to my firstborn. After only having to worry about me all those years, all of a sudden I was responsible for another very helpless little being! It was tough. I think sleep is huge, but also you have to find time for yourself. I believe that keeping up with fitness (and working part time) made me a better, more patient mom.

  8. Oh how I remember all those emotions as well. Funny thing is now with a 3 and 5 year old, on the nights I get a full night’s sleep, I feel terrible all day long. My body is used to get up with our three year old lately – she’s had cold after cold the last 2-3 weeks. I slept all night last night and feel terrible, ha ha!
    Glad you are taking time for yourself, so important!

  9. This is a great post. I definitely struggled (and still struggle with) self care as a new mom. My son is 11 months old now and one of the best things I did was join a gym with childcare when he was a few months old. Having that break mid-day where he gets to play with other babies and I get to run or strength train is one of the best things I could have done. We both come out refreshed!

  10. Karen :0) says:

    I think this is a fabulous idea and definitely something I’ll need to remember as the time draws near! 🙂 Cant believe its already been 8 weeks!

  11. Janelle @ Run With No Regrets says:

    Self-care is so important, and I think in our society women really get the short end of the stick…we have to take time for ourselves, even as mothers! I enjoyed Mar’s challenge and realized how little I do to treat myself, so I know I need to keep it up moving forward.

  12. SuzLyfe says:

    I think that so often new mothers get consumed in their new role–kind of like the first time you marathon train or even when you get a new gadget–there is something about the newness and this incredible bond (in the mom’s case) that you simply have never experienced before and don’t know how to turn away from. But there is a reason that you put the oxygen mask on first, right?

  13. Parent or not, the only way you can truly care for another person is if you are whole and well. Kudos!

  14. This is great! I’m so glad the challenge helped and you will continue to think of ways to care for YOU!

  15. Doing a little something for yourself each day is a great idea.
    I laughed when I read the comment about even taking a shower.. Because more often than not when I go to visit my sister she asks if I would mind watching the kids so she can go take an uninterrupted shower, she craves those LOL

  16. Taking care of yourself is the least selfish thing you can do! I’m so glad you’re finding a good outlet. That challenge sounds great!

  17. haleyduke17 says:

    I know I’ve said it before, but you are absolutely glowing!! Motherhood looks fantastic on you. And you’re looking very svelte and healthy.

  18. The first few months are a huge transition and it is so important to take the time to care for you as well. As moms I think it’s easy to feel guilty about taking some me time but honestly a happier mom is a better mom.

  19. Sue @ This Mama Runs For Cupcakes says:

    Girl, self-care is important at any stage of the kids life. I am in total agreement that you can’t take others unless you take care of yourself. If you have the opportunity, take it. No one will think you are a bad mom for taking time away to just breathe! It gets harder to do as they get older but you MUST make it a priority!

  20. mkadens1 says:

    It’s so easy to immerse yourself in the needs of your baby and forget about yourself. I’m glad you’re taking time to get out to refresh and regroup. Everyone is better off because of it.

  21. erin says:

    I couldn’t agree more – as a mom of 2 (2 and under) it is so important that I allow myself to take just a few minutes each day for me. I’m still impressed with how awesome you did with your first postpartum run – I thought my insides were going to fall out and ended my run in tears because I thought i’d never be able to run again lol

  22. I loved the self care challenge too! It was cool to take time to do things for myself, and fun to try to find a way to snap pictures of it while it was happening. I’m so glad you’re taking time for yourself right now!

  23. Isn’t Mar just wonderful for kick starting the Self-care movement? I too enjoyed very much participating in it. I learned a lot about taking time our for yourself and just the simplest things that bring calmness to a normally hectic day. I can only imagine with a little one around like yourself how life can go to H3LL pretty quickly. 🙂

  24. Josephine says:

    you look great! it is so important to take care of yourself and its key to being able to take care of a little one 😉 (not that im an expert my little guys only 6 months)

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