Self-care doesn’t have to be so complicated

Self-care has become such a trendy topic, but the conversation can end up hurting parents, rather than helping them. Parents are often told that they need time away from their children, that they need to take care of themselves before anyone else, that they should slow down, and that to be a better parent they need to prioritise self-care.

But, when you don’t find the time and energy for self-care, it can make you feel like a failure 

Of course it is important, but it can just be too hard for the average parent to do. You can’t always get time away from your family if you don’t have a support network, slowing down isn’t always possible when there’s so much that needs doing just to keep everyone happy and healthy, plus your children rely on you for their survival.

Self-care doesn’t have to be so complicated

True self-care can be found in the small daily moments with your baby. It’s making the choice to build an enjoyable life that you don’t need to escape from. Putting your baby’s needs first doesn’t mean putting yours last.

Self-care is doing things that bring you joy, and here are some simple ideas:

  • Get outdoors. If you love exercise, and your baby needs you to hold them and prefers movement to get to sleep, then a short walk meets all of these needs. Start the day with fresh air and movement with your baby in the baby carrier, even if it’s just to check the mail. Everyone’s happy!
  • Put on your favourite music, and have a boogie while you vacuum or hang out the washing. Or just sing at the top of your lungs if that makes you feel great.
  • Celebrate and be grateful for small wonders, like having a shower, enjoying a coffee while it’s hot, going to the toilet alone, or making a nice meal for yourself.
  • Set yourself boundaries and say no to activities or events when you’re tired or simply don’t feel like doing it.
  • On the other hand, if you’re feeling like you’d enjoy some company, invite a friend over or go for a walk together.
  • Kind self-talk is also self-care, so don’t forget to consciously parent yourself. Talk to yourself the way you would your newborn, and acknowledge all your efforts as a parent.
  • You could follow a yoga or gentle exercise video at home while your baby plays beside you. It will help to relax you, soothe any stiffness, and get those ‘feel good’ hormones pumping through your body.
  • Drink plenty of water, and have some handy healthy snacks in the kitchen to keep your blood sugar levels balanced.
  • Watch a movie while you feed and cuddle your baby, and don’t feel the tiniest bit guilty about it.
  • Spend some time deep breathing every day, even if it’s while you’re feeding or reading your baby a book.
  • Take notice of the challenging times of day, and make a plan to improve it. Perhaps it’s something like starting bedtime earlier, or making dinner in the morning so you can comfort your baby during the evening witching hour.
  • Stop whenever you notice that you’re feeling resentful or irritable. Think about what you could do in that moment to restore the balance. Is it to make yourself a cup of tea, to splash cool water on your face, or call a friend. You could even make a date with yourself for later when your baby is asleep, like a bubble bath or going to bed early if possible.
  • Be present and soak in the beautiful moments with your baby. The smell of their hair, the breath on your neck as they snuggle into you, and the little sounds they make when they’re sleeping.

You do deserve to take care of yourself, and you should. You need to keep your emotional cup full so you can nurture your baby, keep patient, and experience the joys of parenthood, even on those really tough days. However, self-care and having a baby definitely don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

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