Self-care is one of those buzzwords that has become super popular lately. Everyone seems to be talking about it and what it means to them.
Recently I read an article that lamented this need for self-care. It talked about living a life that was full of purpose, one that didn’t need you to take a break from it. You took care of yourself at the get-go so that you didn’t feel the need to schedule bubble baths and other self-indulgent things.
But self-care is so much more than that. And while the concept is a great idea, unfortunately it doesn’t happen for some people. Most of the people that struggle with this are moms. And I’m one of them.
Self-care can seem impossible as a mother, especially a new one. I have recently come to realise how important it is to take care of yourself and honestly wish I had more time to do it.
As a mother, you are constantly giving: your time and energy. As my mom loves to say, you can’t be good for others if you’re not good for yourself. And I never really understood this concept until becoming a mother. Another saying that helps explain this is that you can’t pour from an empty cup. And it’s so true.
Being a mom is a 24/7 job. There are no days off, no vacation days, no sick days. If you feel like crap, you still get up at 2AM for the fifth time that night to take care of a crying baby. And then you go about the rest of your day like nothing happened. And it’s exhausting. It can become impossible to keep caring for baby if your energy levels are running on low and you haven’t slept properly in weeks or even months. It can lead to frustration, anxiety, depression, and so many other things.
I’m seven months post-partum, but some days I still feel like my daughter was just born yesterday. How is this still not any easier? Why am I still so tired? Why do I feel so depressed all the time?
I constantly tell myself that right now I only have the one kid. I have no idea how women with multiple children do it. I am in constant awe of women who work and run their households and take care of multiple kids. Or women who also choose not to work but also handle everything so seamlessly. How do they do it? How come I can’t?
Before becoming a mother, I had no concept of self-care. I woke up when I wanted, went to sleep when I wanted. If I was craving something to eat, I ordered out. If I wanted to bake my little heart out, I did it at 9AM or 9PM. It didn’t matter. If I felt like watching a movie in the middle of the day, I did just that. It was all me, me, me. Now? Not so much.
It’s hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and it doesn’t get any easier. But I’m realising that I have to start taking care of myself. If I don’t, I will lose my sanity. Some days, I feel like I’m close to it…
Some days it just doesn’t happen. There are a million and one things to get through the day. My daughter’s short, 20 to 30 minute naps don’t leave me with much time to do much for myself, other than maybe take a shower and eat. Take this blog post for example. I wrote a similar to it almost one month ago. I never finished writing it and it continued to gather dust until I realised some of the things I had written were no longer relevant. I planned on doing some writing on Monday and today is Wednesday when I finally have the time to sit down to write this. I’ve already been interrupted once and will probably not finish posting this until later tonight or maybe even tomorrow. That’s just how it is.
So what does self-care look like for me? For starters, I’ve started reading again. There was a period of time where I was too tired to want to read before bed or any other time. I would browse on my phone for a few minutes before sleep finally claimed me. But lately, I’ve been been reading more and it’s something to look forward to at the end of a crazy day. I’ve missed getting lost in a good book and excitement that comes with wanting to know what happens next. I was currently reading through old favourites but have started on some of the unread books that I have had on my bookshelf for ages. Sometimes it’s only a few pages, and sometimes it’s more. But it’s my treat for getting through the day.
I’ve also picked up my markers to do brush lettering again. I wasn’t very good when I abandoned it last year, but it’s something I loved learning to do. It’s something that I find so therapeutic since I can actually switch off my brain and just doodle on the page and try to create something beautiful. It’s so relaxing to be able to work with my hands again. I miss being creative so much, and this is such a non-stressful way for me to get back to it. When my daughter falls asleep for the night, I love to sit with my markers for a few minutes and just doodle some words on the blank page, the thick and thin lines erasing the stress from the day.
I’ve also baking again for myself. I’ve gone back to some old recipes and made the ones that I loved. I’ve made the ones that I know my husband hasn’t tried but will love. It’s something I have to plan for a little more than I ever did, but it’s so worth it when that smell of butter and sugar fills the kitchen.
I’m going to be honest. I find it hard to relax and let go. I always have. But now it’s more harmful than good. I have this concept of guilt that takes over my brain when I do anything for myself, even if I sit for five minutes. In my mind, I could be doing something productive, like cleaning up or organizing. It’s something my mom instilled in me and it’s become so ingrained in me that I have a hard time letting go of it. I feel guilty for relaxing and for taking a break. But at the same time, I complain constantly about being exhausted and of running around all day. I know it’s my fault and I’m the first to admit that I’m a hypocrite. I complain about being tired but refuse to rest or relax when I have the chance.
I’m trying to get better at it, but it’s a constant battle I have within myself. Today I was faced with the choice of napping when my daughter napped or doing chores. I chose the former and it felt amazing.
I think self-care, for me, just means being kinder to myself. It means letting things go and being okay with it. It means taking a break and not feeling guilty. It means knowing that I’m not a bad mother if I take some time for myself.
How do you tackle self-care? Do you think it’s important?