As parents to babies and young children, it is extremely easy to fall into a pattern of not taking care of yourself. You are constantly taking care of and worrying about other people. Sometimes, it is easy to remember to implement self-care, but other times, you completely immerse yourself into the care of your children, and have no time for yourself. It doesn’t matter if you have a full-time job, stay at home, have a supportive spouse, or are a single parent. Anyone can fall into a pattern of neglecting themselves, while prioritizing everything else. It may seem better to continue in that pattern at the time, but overtime, it can cause a lot of issues.
The reason I am writing about this is because I have personally experienced burnout from doing this with my own kids. After I had my third baby, I slowly started to become more and more overwhelmed. I didn’t realize it until it got to the point where it was pretty bad. My body wasn’t healing during the postpartum period from things I had dealt with during my last pregnancy, other health issues started to pop up, and I was experiencing postpartum anxiety and rage. I felt lost and alone, and had no idea what to do. I finally got to the point where I knew I needed to seek out help. I started going to physical therapy, and started to relearn how to take time for myself. It was a weird period of getting to know myself again.
When I first started implementing self-care, I felt overwhelmed with no idea where or how to start. I thought, should I just do something for myself once a month? Think about that, if I only implemented self-care once a month, it would be 12 times out of 365 days. That’s not good enough. I learned that I should be doing things daily for myself. It doesn’t always have to be some big thing that takes most of the day. In fact, a lot of the things I do for my own self-care take hardly any time at all. There are things that I do that take more time, but the ones that I am doing every day are fast.
If you don’t know where to get started, here are some easy things that you can add to your daily routine for self-care.
The power of saying no. This is such an important form of self-care. I think it is important for people to realize that it is okay to say no. You can set boundaries for yourself. If you have too much on your plate and someone asks you for help with something, it is okay to tell them that you are unable to help. Learning to say no can help you in so many different ways. This can prevent you from being overwhelmed with tasks, from becoming resentful towards the people you are helping, and you can better focus on the things that you have prioritized and already need to do. By doing this, you are taking care of yourself.
Meditating. If you haven’t meditated before, don’t stress about it. It is so easy to look up guided meditations through youtube, with a variety of time limits. I have done so many that were under 5 minutes. This is easy to do in the morning right before your kids wake up, in the afternoon during a nap, or right before you go to bed. Meditating is a great way to pause, and connect with yourself.
Move your body. This can be done in so many different ways. You can exercise, go for a walk, stretch, play with your kids at the park, even going to a museum and walking around with your kids counts. Moving your body is so important! It can increase your energy, boost your mood, and help you sleep better. Plus, if you’ve ever watched Legally Blonde, you know that you get endorphins from exercising, which makes you happy. Definitely take time to move your body.
Get outside. There are so many benefits from going outside. You get Vitamin D, it can strengthen your immune system, it can help ease depression and anxiety, and it can lower your stress levels. I don’t know about you, but I tend to feel a lot better when I go outside and get fresh air.
Sleep. I almost didn’t put this on the list, but I figured I should. This is so tricky when it comes to having babies and young children. Most people are dealing with their babies waking up during the night, causing a lack of sleep. It’s so hard, and I always get very annoyed when people tell me that I need more sleep, but if you can go to bed just a little bit earlier, or if there is any way possible for you to nap while your baby and/or toddlers nap, please do so. Sleep is so important for our overall health and wellbeing.
There are plenty of other little ways that you can take time for self-care, but I wanted to focus on ones that really helped me, and that are a bit easier to implement into our daily routines.