I hope everyone is having a good week. With the busy holiday season upon us I thought it was the perfect time to talk about the importance of self care. As women, we often put ourselves last on the “to-do” list – work, household chores and family always seem to take priority. As a mom that becomes even more evident. Even sitting down to write out this post and allow myself this time for something “personal” is hard for me. The clean clothes behind me that were hung to dry need to be put away and I literally just stood in front of the drying rack feeling conflicted and had to force myself to sit down and write this post instead of putting them away. I can see wash that’s done sitting in washer, it needs to be put in the dryer. And my husband is rocking our daughter to sleep but I feel guilty that he “has” to do it and feel like I should – which is ridiculous, I’ve been with her the last few hours while he got some personal errands done outside the house. And of course caring for our daughter is just as much his responsibility as mine. But for some reason you still feel like you have to say “Thank You,” – “Thank You for rocking her to sleep,” “Thank you for emptying the dishwasher,” “Thank you for washing (your own) clothes.” Which are all things I do on a daily basis and wouldn’t expect a “Thank You” for.
So this is my long-winded way of saying that I’ve realized I need to make self care a priority. Maternity Leave has given me that “pause” to realize how important it is. As a new mom, i’m subscribed to several different motherhood newsletters & social media accounts and all of them touch on the importance of self care. However, I feel like there is this constant through line where self care is almost synonymous with “getting your body back” and “fitting back into your skinny jeans” or doing what you did before you had a baby.
Before Evelyn, I had what I would consider a self care routine already established. On the weekends I went for an early morning workout, I got manis & pedis on the regular, my hair done at an expensive Beverly Hills salon, eyebrows threaded & shaped, waxing, eyelash extensions and constantly refreshing my work wardrobe with clothing rental & purchasing sites (Le Tote, Stitch Fix). These were all things “for me” that made me “feel good” & “put together.” But what i’ve realized during this newborn pause, where I don’t have the ability to leave her for such long hours to keep up this routine, is that I feel these things added more stress and pressure on myself than actually taking care of my well being. I felt the constant need to keep up in a materialistic superficial world, heightened by the fact that I work in the Entertainment Industry.
Being a new mom, i’m finding my perspective changing and what constitutes “me time” changing too. I consider “Me Time” as time spent away from my baby and it usually only lasts for 30 minutes. So it needs to provide me that break and personal fulfillment that I need in a compact amount of time. For Evelyn’s naps, I never know if they’re going to last 30 minutes or 2 hours. I learned quickly how by choosing to do a household chore during her morning nap, instead of taking time for myself, left me exhausted and I regretted it when she’d wake up all too early – how is it that babies can sense as soon as your head hits the pillow?!
I want this post to remind fellow mommas, and encourage mommas-to-be, to not put your personal wants and needs last. During that so precious and small window where your little one is taking a nap or being watched by a friend or family member – choose the nap, or read a book, or watch a show on Netflix. Don’t feel guilty about not being “productive.”
And I wish women would stop putting so much pressure on themselves to “get their body back.” There are definite benefits to exercising and getting outdoors. I am trying to take long walks with Evelyn several times a week (eh, if i’m being honest it’s more like 3 in a week is an accomplishment but it’s a start), walks also seem to help when she’s fussy. So definitely get out and walk – with your baby, with a friend, with your partner. I love taking walks with girl friends, getting to catch up on grown up convos while she snoozes in her stroller. And if yoga or cycling or pilates also help you mentally feel good, then that’s great. But don’t feel like you have to sign up for crossfit at 6am 5 days a week because you’re supposed to be bouncing back quicker.
In stopping with my time consuming (and expensive!) pampering “self-care” pre-baby routine and spending my time for naps, or blogging, or reading (we go to the library now!) i’m left mentally and physically rested when i’m spending time with Evelyn & the Husband. It allows me to be more patient, kinder, and more present.
So if you’re a mom you’re probably reading this and you’re like “Yeah, this SOUNDS great but how are you really finding the time for all this hippy-dippy- “Self Care” Sh*t? Which leads me to the second part of my post about balancing your work load – learning to take things off your plate and not feel guilty about it. I’ve found a huge part to S.C. is speaking up about your needs. I’ve started implementing weekly “Family Meetings” where the Husband and I go over the upcoming week. It helps manage expectations, set goals, and communicate. I make sure to block in time just for me, block in quality time for us as a family, figure out the to-do list and then instead of shouldering it all myself, divvy up the tasks. When it’s all written out I can also see what’s reasonable. I usually try to take on a ton, by being more practical and setting manageable goals I feel accomplished and instead of feeling like i’m failing. And by knowing there are goals being hit each day I feel less stressed.
To clarify, when I say “goals” I mean like going to the grocery store or doing laundry when Evelyn was first born my goals were things like, take a shower – with a newborn you’re only going to be able to do about two tasks max. When my husband & I are able to cross off one or two things on our lists a day by taking turns watching Evelyn and then feeling good that we accomplished our tasks, we can head out to do something fun as a family in the afternoon without feeling like we should be getting more chores done. If your partner isn’t available, I feel like it’s soooo worth the money to get a sitter for a few hours a few times a week to do the things you need to feel like you’re head is above water.
So as the Holidays approach, remember to take a deep breath, that you won’t be able to accomplish everything you used to pre-baby and that’s OK. Wear your stretchy pants a few months longer (do I ever have to give up maternity jeans?!). Enjoy some pumpkin pie and Christmas Cookies. Let someone else host at their place this year. And if you have to host at yours – they sell super classy disposable plastic “China looking” place settings at Costco! Also, my favorite mom-hack, buy already made dips & dishes from Whole Foods or Costco and just re-plate them in your Le Creuset casserole dish! With all that time you saved NOT making the dish by scratch or getting your house clean to host you can get a mani-pedi AND sneak in a nap before having to head out to the holiday party.
And for those days where Self Care just isn’t going to happen – Cheers to coffee, dry shampoo and thick layers of concealer.