Let’s talk self-care. Yeah, I know you’ve heard it before – you need to fit your own oxygen mask first, etc…
But really most of us aren’t that good at doing this. And for good reason, we’ve got little people (and others) depending on us. And we’ve been taught to believe that to be a good woman / mother requires us to be endlessly selfless and serving. Whilst nothing will take away the thankless work and sacrifice that is involved in parenting, every one of us can commit to radical self-care.
A side note: * Firstly I want to say all the self-care in the world won’t make the systemic changes that we need in our birthing culture. Of course not. That is another conversation. Please allow yourself to also focus on your own needs for nurturing, as well as doing the activism to help change the bigger issues. We need to do both!*
What is Radical About Self-Care?
At its heart radical self-care is about self-love. It’s about acknowledging the simple truth that you matter too. And that you matter just as much as your child.
The radical aspect of the self-care is also about recognizing we need a revolution in how women think about themselves, and the way society thinks about women, especially as they become mothers.
Our societal expectations of perfection are unrealistic and unreasonable.
No one else is going to give you permission for radical self-care. Only you can claim it. And if there is ever a potent time to reclaim it it’s during the postpartum time.
Your child will learn from YOU how to value and care for themselves.
What will you model for them?
If you need some inspiration or ideas about ways to nurture yourself as a new mum (I know you can think of these things yourself, but hey I get it, sleep deprivation is real and sometimes we need a reminder!) then keep reading…
PHYSICAL SELF-CARE IDEAS:
- Spend time outside today, in the sun if possible.
- Eat a nourishing meal including fruit/vegetables.
- Get a massage or do a self-massage.
- Move your body- dancing, stretching, swimming, walking.
- Wear your favourite clothing.
- Get your hands in the garden.
- Have a beauty treatment or a haircut.
- Take a nap (with someone else caring for baby if possible!)
EMOTIONAL / SOCIAL SELF-CARE
- Keep a journal… track your mind and release the “stories” that you’re telling yourself.
- Practice paying attention to your thoughts… what are the beliefs that underpin them? Are they outdated or beliefs you want to keep?
- Feel your feelings… can you practice feeling them and then let them go?
- Practice receiving help from others… now is the time!
- What can you say no to today?
- Do you need to talk to a counselor?
- What is something different or new you can do today? (e.g. go to an art gallery).
- Who can you call to meet up with? Now is the time to find your village.
- What is something that makes you laugh? Do that!
- What gives you comfort? Do that!
- Do a fun activity with your baby.
- Drop all expectations of yourself today. Shift your gaze from yourself to something you care about. Can you take one small social action today to help create a better world- write a letter, sign a petition, attend a rally, make a donation?
- Can you take 5 mins for self-reflection? What are your dreams? Why are you alive? What drives you? Write this somewhere you’ll see it as a reminder.
- What are your values as a family? What do you want your child/ren to grow up learning or caring about? Write that and display where you can all see and add to.
- Daily rituals: what small steps can you do to connect with the deeper meaning of your life each day? (E.g. light a candle at meal times; say a blessing for the food you eat etc.)
- List something you’re grateful for today.
- Who are your ancestors? Can you connect with them and build a relationship with them?
- Practice being in altered states of consciousness: meditation (use a guided one if you’re not sure how to do it); singing; prayer; expressive dancing; expressive painting (no attachment to the outcome!), yoga etc.
- What inspires you – connect with that again (literature, music, ted talks, podcasts etc.)