Nadia-Cruzova/ShutterstockBecoming a mom is a huge adjustment for anyone. A whole host of physical, emotional, and hormonal changes accompany your integration into the “mom club.” Combine that with all the extra responsibilities of caring for a small person and the fact that you are likely operating on reduced sleep, and it’s no wonder moms can start to feel burned out.
What’s more, moms are natural caretakers, which means we ensure that everyone in the family is well-fed, looked after, and happy—even if that means our own needs are neglected. Less than 7 percent of American adults do something to take care of their health each day, according to the Journal of The American Board of Family Medicine. But “self-care” is a hot buzzword for a reason: We cannot effectively care for others if we haven’t taken care of ourselves.
Just to be absolutely clear, self-care is not about self-indulgence. As Leighann Marquiss, a life coach from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, explains, taking care of our emotional well-being is so much more than the temporary boost we receive from something like retail therapy. “Self-care is participating in activities that help our body release and counterbalance stress. I encourage moms to think of something that feeds them physically, mentally, or spiritually. Things like exercise, relaxation, or a walk in the outdoors; podcasts, reading, or seminars; mediation, prayer, or emotionally connecting with others.”
So, with that in mind, commit this week to a small daily activity that nourishes you. Something that makes you take stock of your life, experience gratitude, and relax and focus on yourself, for a change! You’ll feel in control, rested, and ready for family fun.
Monday—Have a mini adventure
Entrust the care of your child to a close relative, friend, or a sitter you know, and walk out of the house—whether you go to a movie, wander around the mall, take yourself to lunch, or just walk around the block. The first time you leave without your newborn, it can feel like a part of you is missing. However, having some time out of the house and on your own is essential to feeling like yourself again. There may be practical reasons why you need to be close to home, for instance, if you are breastfeeding, but otherwise taking a break from your mommy responsibilities can feel like a refreshing vacation, even if it’s only for the afternoon!
Tuesday—Delegate a task
There is often a sense of perfectionism that goes hand-in-hand with mothering. We want to do it all, and we want to do it our way. But delegating certain tasks to other family members frees up your time to focus on a little restorative me-time. Lisa Bahar, LMFT, a licensed family therapist and clinical counselor who works with clients, particularly new moms, on prioritizing self-care, suggests that moms seek help. For some of us, it may mean letting go of overly high expectations. “In many instances, the dad or the significant other wants to help but has problems understanding how to help,” Bahar says. “Try and be as clear as possible with your requests.”
Wednesday—Re-balance mind and body
Exercise is a fantastic way for frazzled parents to care for themselves. The natural burst of feel-good boost hormones combined with some solitude makes any workout a time to reconnect with our body and return home feeling re-energized. Yoga, with its emphasis on balance and reflection, is particularly relaxing and centering. Try signing up for Gaia, which focuses on mindfulness through yoga, and offers an on-demand subscription service to over 5,000 customizable videos, so you can create a yoga or meditation practice at home or on the road.
Thursday—Find your flow
They say a change is as good as a rest, and tapping into a creative or artistic activity can feel incredibly relaxing. In fact, a recent surge in the popularity of adult coloring books shows that concentrating carefully on an artistic pursuit can be almost meditative. Journalling can have a similar effect and also prompts us to express gratitude for our present lives, both of which have been shown to improve our mood and outlook. MOO has launched a new range of colorful notebooks that are half lined and half blank, making them perfect for lists, goals, and sketches.
Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW reminds us that parents could sometimes use a reality check. “Make a list of what you can control in a situation (getting enough sleep, eating well) and what you can’t control (your kid having a temper tantrum),” she says. “Focus on what you can control to make any necessary changes, and practice accepting what you cannot control.” It will save a lot of headaches.
Saturday—Go on a date night
Hiring a babysitter and going on a date night with your partner can be an excellent way to unwind and reconnect romantically. Make sure you carefully vet your caregiver so that you can enjoy your evening without fretting about your little one. These date night ideas are way better than a Netflix binge.
Sunday—Have a soak
As the week draws to a close, do something traditionally relaxing. A simple bath can be elevated by purchasing quality products, lighting a few candles, and making sure all toys are stowed away. (Here’s how to take a grown-up bath.) The experience can be upgraded to a luxe-level if you have the budget for a professional massage. Zeel created a massage an on-demand service where the gift of touch is delivered to your home. When the baby finally goes down for a nap, you can call up a massage therapist and they’ll come to you!
Being a parent is hard work, there’s no doubt. Kids don’t have an off switch and the responsibilities and demands of parenting can sometimes be overwhelming. Take time to look after yourself, because, moms matter. Here are more activities that promote mental wellness.