As moms of multiple children ourselves, we know how hard it can be to try and prioritize your own self-care. You’re so focused on making sure the needs and wants of your own tiny beings are met, that sometimes you forget that YOU have needs too!
We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”, but we have found it is the absolute truth. When your cup is empty, there isn’t anything left to give. And we all know that our babies (big and small) require LOTS of give!
So how do you make sure that your cup is full (or at least mostly filled, half way will do on some days -lets be real)? We’ve outlined a few ways to ensure your self-care is kept a priority so that you can be the best version of yourself for those little people that need you.
1. ASSEMBLE YOUR TRIBE
We cannot stress this enough! Having a village of other moms who are IN IT with you is SO vital to your mental well-being as a parent. You need those people to vent with, to ask the “is this normal” questions to, to spend adult time with, to cry with, to laugh with, to just normalize this whole crazy journey with.
If you don’t have many friends with kids, consider joining a local mom’s group, a book club, or enrolling in a mommy & me type class where you can meet other moms. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of any birthing classes or maternity leave classes where you can bond with other parents who are in your same boat.
This was a stretch for us to do. It wasn’t comfortable at first, we didn’t think we needed it but we followed the advice of others who had walked this road before us. The biggest surprise has been that without even knowing it, we created incredible bonds that our children now also get to enjoy. A safe place, that truly nurtures our soul in motherhood and provides a community for our littles to have their people too. It took getting uncomfortable to do it, it felt a little awkward to sit with strangers at first, but those strangers are now our tribe and we couldn’t imagine this journey without them. It is SO important for your self-care to have a supportive network around you.
2. MOVE YOUR BODY – HOWEVER THIS LOOKS FOR YOU
Whether this is taking a walk around the block, doing an at-home yoga class, or catching an hour to run to your local gym, it is so important for your mental health to move your body! Movement creates feel good hormones and endorphins that help with stress reduction and overall happiness. If you can grab some Vita D (aka sunshine) in the process, all the better!
3. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE A GOOD BATH OR SHOWER
If you can’t find someone to watch your kiddos while you enjoy a relaxing bath or shower, then bring a bouncer in for baby and let the screen time roll without guilt for your older kiddos. Just getting to sit under/in the warm water and feel refreshed, cry out those tears, let the hot water loosen the tight shoulders, whatever it may be.....sometimes it’s just enough to give us a recharge to make it through the day.
4. ASK FOR AND ACCEPT HELP
Ooooooooo, yeah, not gonna lie, this was a hard one for us! In some ways we learned this one the hard way and our partners took the brunt of it. It’s much easier to not ask for help and then blame our nearest helper for “not helping”, right?
Here’s what we now know, if someone offers or asks if you need anything, its OKAY to say YES! It’s ok to feel kind of weird saying yes but say it anyway. Let them do the dishes, hold the baby while you shower, change the bed, prep the meal, take the older kids for a walk.....whatever it is, say YES! Having kids is hard. It really does take a village. So call upon that village and let them be there for you! You are the momma and we all have to work on accepting that the title of momma doesn’t mean we have to hold guilt for letting someone else lend a hand. You’re already a super hero, you’re not letting anyone down by giving yourself a much deserved break from time to time.
JUST SAY YES!
5. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY
Treat your body like the temple that it is. It grew and birthed a baby for you. It is processing all that comes with motherhood. It gives selflessly day in and day out. It walks, talks, breaths without even asking you for anything in return. It allows you to move freely, to see/hear/smell your babies…it’s basically a super machine and honoring it is important.
Hydrate with something other than coffee. We recommend half your weight in oz as a good guide. So if you weigh 200lbs you would drink 100oz per day.
Exercise (however that looks for you – see above).
Rest when you can. Get as much sleep as you can (which typically isn’t much as a new momma, or momma at all, but do your best!). We know there are a million and one things to do and guess what, there still will be tomorrow. Go to bed early when you can, take a nap a couple days a week, do what you need to do to refill that sleep tank. Your machine (aka body) relies on it for proper hormonal balance.
Be kind to it. Speak to it like it is the strongest, most magical thing in the world (because it is!). Talk to it as though it is your best friend, your greatest gift, your pride and joy. If you find that hard to do, tune into something that helps. A book, a podcast, a friend, etc.
6. GET OUTSIDE
Sunshine is the greatest cure. Soak up that vitamin D and enjoy the sounds and smells of nature. Nature gives us the gentle reminder to be present, be mindful, be peaceful. Most babies and kids are also happier when they are outside, so bring the crew! Have a picnic at the park or beach or in the snow, take a nature walk, play in the sprinklers, ride bikes, dig in the dirt, just sit in the fresh air for 10 min while baby naps…...whatever your preference is, as grandma used to say, “there’s something about getting outside that’s just good for the soul”!
There is so much to enjoy outside of our own walls, so enjoy away!
7. CONNECT WITH YOUR PARTNER
If you are comfortable and have the resources to have someone watch your children (a babysitter or family/friends), make it a habit to go on dates. If that isn’t feasible, plan date nights after the kids go to bed. Grab a bottle of wine, cook a nice dinner, play a game, and just reconnect and remember the reasons you picked each other. Reconnecting with your partner brings you back to a time when you didn’t have little hands and bodies all over you and reminds you of who you are behind the mom superhero cape you wear.
We like to remember that we are the foundation. We created this or these little humans together and while we do often find ourselves putting them first, we have to keep the foundation strong too. When it starts to crack, the whole house can become unstable. We know it's hard, we know that somedays all we need or want is to be left alone once everyone is tucked into bed, but it's also incredibly important and valuable to nurture the relationship we have and we always feel better once we’ve taken the time to connect with our partner regarding something other than diapers, dishes and bills.
8. SIT IN THE QUIET AND REFLECT
It’s easy to get caught up in all the to-dos, all of the weekend events, week day field trips, school work, dr. appointments, grocery lists, our needs, babies needs, the dogs needs.......it’s no wonder your brain becomes completely overwhelmed and exhausted.
There are 1440 min in a day, take 15-30 minutes each day for to make room for your own thoughts isn’t asking too much of yourself. Sitting in silence, reflecting, journaling on your daily struggles, gratitude, triumphs. What went well, and what could you improve upon tomorrow? What was your favorite moment of the day? What are you grateful for? Just this simple act of reflection can bring us back to a present state and allow our brains to let go of all the open tabs.
You can do this in the morning before baby wakes, at night before you drift off to sleep, or anytime throughout the day where you can steal a few minutes.
9. MOST IMPORTANTLY, BE KIND TO YOURSELF.
The most important tip of all. Be kind, give yourself grace, allow for imperfections, and know you are doing the very damn best you can! Don’t be so hard on yourself. We all have bad days. Learn, accept, and move forward knowing you are perfectly imperfect and exactly what your children need. You are the light of their life and you are doing AMAZING, momma!