Being a mom is hard, being a mom who strives to meet your child’s every need is taxing but well worth the effort. How do we balance meeting our children’s needs and taking care of ourselves? Being a good mom doesn’t mean neglecting yourself for the sake of your baby. What your child needs most is a happy mama who is able to be their calm and support. Self-care is really important for both you and your little one. What self-care looks like and what that means for each person is different. At Suffolk Family Therapy we provide Postpartum Therapy for moms experiencing postpartum depression and/or anxiety. Here is a list of suggestions of what you can do for self-care so afterwards, you are more ready and able to meet the needs of your little one.
Support is number one because it makes taking a needed break possible. Utilizing grandparents, your partner, other family members or close friends is important. If you have supports around you, ask for help. I know we want to do it all but sometimes even someone coming by for you to cook without the baby on you or take a shower alone will help you to feel relaxed. I struggled the first few months with leaving my son for any stretch of time but if you are comfortable, a walk outside in the park or dinner out with your partner is a good way to relax and center yourself. As I said earlier just having someone come over so you can enjoy little things like cooking, showering, or reading alone may be the bit of relaxation you need.
Understandably, this is not always possible if you have a limited support network. The phrase “it takes a village” really is true so it is important that you work on building your supports. Finding like-minded parents that you feel comfortable leaving your child/children with can be a great source of relief.
No matter whom you leave your child with make sure they know how you want your child taken care of when you’re away. Tell them your preferences for medications. Teach them your child’s hunger cues and ways you soothe your child when he/she becomes upset. Always leave an emergency contact list.
If possible go to the gym when your spouse is still home (before work or after). If you’re like me and that’s not possible, join a gym where you can bring your baby. I go to Fit4mom, which has the added benefit of also being a second support network of like-minded moms (at least in my location).
- Take a relaxing bath.
If you can’t get anyone to supervise your little ones, bring them in with you. My child loves baths. So its usually relaxation time for us both.
I really love reading and always feel accomplished after I finish a good book.
- Take a walk!
If it’s nice out put on that baby carrier and take your baby with you. Just being outdoors is relaxing. Michael and I go on walks often. He likes to look at nature and usually is lulled to sleep while we walk. Fresh air and a change of scenery can be nice, especially in the early months where you may feel like your stuck in the house.
Whether you have 5 minutes or an hour, meditation is a great way to relax and center yourself. I love the app Insight Timer they have all sorts of meditations and they vary in time commitments. I also love the “sleep” feature so you can drift off to sleep and the app turns off when the meditation is finished.
Seriously. I know it sounds childish to some but there are an array of adult coloring books that really are quite relaxing to do.
- Gratitude Journal.
Did you know studies actually show you can train your brain to be more positive by writing down 3 positive things a day? The list should be specific, not “my husband, my child, work”, but more like ” my child is healthy”, “I’m able to breastfeed”, ” my husband is supporting me in returning (or not returning) to work”. Postpartum therapy can assist you in identifying what is going right if you are feeling so anxious or hopeless you cannot think of a single thing to be grateful for.
- Call a friend.
If you can’t get out and you have no one able to come to you, a phone call can be a lifeline. Call someone who is supportive and willing to listen. Catching up with a friend or relative can really brighten your day.
- Listen to music.
Even if it’s music on while you have a spare minute to vacuum the floor. Crank up some old jams and dance around yourself. I love to sing, my dancing skills are not so great (but I will still dance like a fool), and I find singing really helps to release anxiety.
Take care of yourself. On an airplane they always tell you to put your mask on first. You need to be calm and happy to help your child be calm and happy. You’re also modeling good coping strategies for your child. They learn more from what you do, then what you say.
If you need some more help with navigating postpartum symptoms and want to begin postpartum therapy, please reach out to our office.
Sending love and light,