MOTHERHOOD. By far, the best thing that has ever happened to me. It’s the pinnacle of joy and the refiners fire. I get lost in my shilo’s eyes every single day and wonder how I was blessed to have such an amazing human as a part of my life.
With that being said, motherhood has always been the most tiring, trying, and stressful period of my life. This week marked ONE YEAR of me being a mama, with the accompaniment of my dear shilo river’s first birthday. As I was reflecting on this time I couldn’t believe the “wringer” I had been through so-to-speak and thought I would dedicate a post to all the other mama’s (and women) out there who have been or are going through (or someday could go through) the same thing.
When my son was 3 months old, I was hit with a slew of health problems ranging from auto-immune disease, fatigue, post-partum depression, anxiety, digestive problems, hormone imbalance, and more. Any time I would visit a doctor, they would just say “oh you’re a new mom that is normal”. But I couldn’t accept that as an answer. I continued to search for remedies via natural means and found that a HUGE contributor to improved health was simply self care.
As a mama & a woman in general, it is so easy to give so much of yourself that you run yourself completely dry, depleted, rundown, and empty. We feel guilty when we take time for ourselves because there is always a never ending “to-do” list, things to be cleaned, people to serve, evil to be conquered, world peace to initiate, and legs (and other places) to be shaved. Gotta be sexy for your man, but playful for your child, cool/energetic for your friends, and poised for humanity. Basically, we make ourselves sick to death by trying to be everything all at once without taking time for what matters most: our own health.
I remember getting so frustrated with how I felt that I actually freaked out at my man saying “you get to go out and exercise, work, see your friends, and do everything and anything you want… But my job never ends… It is the most exhausting job ever and I never have time for myself!” I’ll never forget what he told me… He said “well, then why don’t you just take some time for yourself????” Haha. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had never even thought about taking time for ME. It seemed so wrong, so selfish, and that if I wasn’t there to do the dishes that they would explode… Or something. Idk. But I wanted to shed some light on some of the things I’ve done this year to improve my health through self care while also being a mom:
mama self care 101
- Do something for you, first thing in the morning. I like to wake up a little bit earlier than I know my son does and try to do something to make me feel good about myself. Usually it will be a quick yoga flow, doing my hair & make-up, making some mushroom hot cocoa or if he wakes up earlier than usual, just penciling in my planner WHEN I will do something for me.
- Try to stick to a routine. I’ve noticed that a basic routine for me and my babe helps me to stay sane and know what to expect each day so that I don’t get anxious, catch myself in public when he throws a fit from missing a nap, and also allows me to get my “to-do” list done. (post to come about my daily routine)
- Tend to your basic human needs. Everyone needs to eat and sleep. It’s not easy to sleep with little ones but try to get to bed early when you put them down instead of catching the last tv show, or nap when they are napping. Meal prep one day a week to make sure you have something healthy to grab from the fridge at meal time.
- Try to eat healthy. You needs LOTS of energy as a mom, and it’s hard to sustain yourself on coffee for breakfast and chips for lunch. Eat foods high in nutrients, healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates and aim for balance on your place. Some of my fav energy foods are avocado, sweet potatoes, greens (especially in green smoothie form hehe), pasture-raised eggs, and for snacks I enjoy rx bars, lara bars, nuts/seeds, and frozen fruit. See some recipe ideas here
- Connect with someone every day. Healthy human interaction is so important. Connect with your partner on an intimate level (physical or emotional), get lunch with a girl friend, or just go to a public place and be friendly to the cashier, people around you, etc. A smile, hug, or good conversation goes a long way.
- Look for opportunities to serve others. When you’re serving other people, you’re not focused on yourself and your personal woes. On my bad days it always cheers me up to send out nice texts of gratitude to friends/family, share some baked goods with a neighbor or simply just smile at someone and compliment a stranger.
- Get out and MOVE. My post-baby body hasn’t been able to handle rigorous exercise, but I’ve found that going on a 30-60 minute walk around the neighborhood with baby every day has drastically improved symptoms of post-partum depression and anxiety. I also enjoy going to yoga classes with a friend 1-2 times a week. Occasionally we will even go on a hike!
- Be willing to ask for help. I won’t lie, there have been times where I’ve felt overwhelmed but wasn’t willing to ask for help. The minute I humbled myself and started reaching out to friends or family to take shilo just for 1 hour on those days so I can run an errand or get a smoothie… I came back completely energized and ready to take on the week. Also, it makes those people feel important and strengthens your relationship. People love to help!
- Reduce the time you spend watching tv. In the first 3 months of shilos life I watched all 13 seasons of greys anatomy. Not even joking. Pls nobody do the math on how many hours I spent watching tv (lol), but I feel that sedentary lifestyle contributed to my decline in health. Try to fill your time using your talents, create something, help somebody, or enjoy the sunshine. I still watch 0.5-1 hour of tv a day, and that’s enough for me now :).
- Reduce the time you spend on social media. Social media is an amazing tool, but can lead to unrealistic expectations about life. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others and allow negative self talk to creep in, or feel like we aren’t as cool as another mom, as healthy, as fit, etc etc. It also facilitates friendships that are nowhere near as gratifying as in-person human interaction. I have an amazing friend who completely deleted her instagram and rarely gets on facebook and is happier for it. Do whatever you need to feel your best self. I personally haven’t gone that far to delete social media but I’m working on trying to be on it less…. working on it… Haha
- Supplements & Superfoods. I’ve found that taking some simple supplements have helped me manage my mood, brain health, and ability to cope with stress. I like d3 +k2 (take together for better absorption) to improve mood and cardiovascular health, b12 for mental clarity, reduce depression and balance, omega-3 (good quality fish oil) for memory and brain health, a multivitamin, and sometimes in the evenings I enjoy Natural Calm, a magnesium/calcium supplement which helps you to reduce anxiety and sleep. I also eat medicinal mushrooms (reishi is my fav) in powder form in teas to help balance my immune system and help me adapt to stress.
- Take time for headspace. Meditating 2-3 times a week and just having time to ponder and reflect has really benefitted me. Sometimes I just take time away to take a warm lavender bath, meditate alone in my room, attend a yoga class, or ask my spouse to take the babe so I can write a blog post or read alone. It makes all the difference! I get drained easily by being constantly surrounded by people and having my baby clinging to me (as much as I love it, hehe)
- Reconnect with your spirituality. Spirituality is different for everyone. I enjoy simply meditating and expressing gratitude or having a deep spiritual conversation with someone I trust.
- Do something that makes you feel pretty. I actually feel prettiest when I’ve got a more natural look rather than dolled up, so I will take time to do a skin care regimen, do dry-brushing on my skin, or go buy myself a new article of clothing to help me feel cute that day/week. You could get ready for the day, get your eyelashes done, paint your nails, etc.
- Positive self talk. Simply telling yourself that you’re beautiful and being mindful of the monologue going on in your head is huge. If you let your mind run on its own the thoughts are likely to be negative… Chose to change that around and build yourself up.
- Love and accept yourself for who you are in this moment. Your body, your life, your dreams, and basically everything about you changes after having a baby. For me it did, anyway. I found that I needed to learn to love myself for who I was. Love the baby pooch, love the acne, love the mysterious hairs growing in strange places, love the fact that I chose to be a stay at home mom, or maybe love the fact that you chose to go back to work to pursue your passion… Whatever it is – you are uniquely you, and who you are is good enough! Love yourself and work what you got! You are more beautiful than ever before, from the inside out.
I also had the opportunity to get some input from some of my mama friends or just amazing women on social media who shared their favorite “self-care tips” with me. I’ll share those here:
- “Self care for me is doing movement in the morning that makes me happy: yoga, pilates or spinning. Taking care of my body with foods that are nutritious, from the earth, high energy, supplements. Using non toxic face products. Taking time to read books and going to the beach!” – @byebyebloat
- “Taking the time to paint my nails and give myself a pedicure. Or taking a bubble bath helps me refresh” – @shaylaadawn
- “When my boy goes down for his sleep I get my lunch done, clean the kitchen and then try my hardest most days to sit down and watch something for at least half an hour – the first months I realised I was just getting up and down repeatedly and my mum told me to make sure I get time to just sit and chill.” – @notjustapples
Feel free to comment more ideas and thoughts below! I love all the advice and help I can get because I’m still working on it hehe. Thanks for reading! Much love, xoxo.