Taking care of one's self once after becoming a mother can be seen as a selfish act. Once we become mothers, it seems that we are expected to put our children, our families, our careers ahead of our own needs. It's important to remember that we are mothers, not martyrs. Taking a break and some time for yourself is not shameful, prideful, or selfish. A little self care can go a long way.
Self care. It's something I'm not very good at doing. I seemed to better at it with just one child - it seemed to be easier to leave the house. Now that I'm staying home with two boys, I have very little time or energy for myself. One thing my therapist has said repeatedly in our sessions (I'm paraphrasing) is that we as mothers tend to pour from our cup for everyone else. By the time we get to us, our cup is empty. When our cup is empty, that's when we lose our cool with loved ones and can start to feel down [side note: these are two of the issues I'm working on].
Gisele Bundchen recently said that mothers need to put themselves first, using the expression, "ensure your own oxygen mask is fitted before helping others." While I do not have her means (or incredible physique or penchant for yoga on the beach), I can appreciate her candor. She goes on to say, "'You can feel a bit guilty - you feel guilty if you do and if you don't. But if I put my oxygen mask on first, if I'm feeling fulfilled and present and good about myself, then I'm going to be a much more patient, loving, understanding mother and wife.
You have to fill your glass so that everyone can drink from it.
I actually started this blog after the birth of my oldest as a way to keep a sense of self. Once I realized how important breastfeeding was to me, my voice changed. Maintaining a sense of self seemed to come relatively easily for me then: there was only one child to worry about, going to work made it a little easier to leave the house for myself, and I always had a good amount of milk stored in case he got hungry. My challenge these days is finding time for myself, in an unfamiliar town as a stay at home mom of two. While my husband is supportive of me making sure my cup is full, the problems lie with me. I'm lucky to have 10 ounces of milk stored and a few hours to go out.
I have been making an effort to take some time out for myself every few days. It's nothing extravagant: a glass of wine and a mindless TV show, give myself a manicure, a bath after the kids are in bed, or staying up late to online shop after everyone's in bed. Sometimes I'll run to the grocery store by myself if we run out of something in the middle of the week. As long as I'm filling my cup back, it's a good thing. I typically feel a little bit better getting out of the house alone, driving with the windows down and blasting music as loud as I want. I was recently able to go out for brunch with a friend for a few hours. It was worth pumping milk!
Other low cost ways to take care of yourself:
- prayer or meditation
- feeding your body food that makes it happy
- exercise by going for a walk or run
- journal your thoughts
How do you fill your cup?