Caregiving is exhausting. It is a 24/7 job that requires major reserves of time, energy, and patience. Caring for yourself is crucial in order to be able to adequately care for your children.
Quick self-care suggestions to keep your tank full:
Tap into your relaxation response with deep breathing or meditation. Motherly is a great app to help you tap in and tune out in those early years. Mini breathing breaks throughout the day can help with the building stress, and if possible, think about adding an additional relaxation strategy during nap time so you can really calm your system.
Move your body to release endorphins and feel better. Walking, gentle stretching, mom & baby movement classes can all enhance your feeling of well-being.
Sleep more, if at all possible. I know this one is controversial. Many parents have an early bedtime for their kids and a midnight bedtime for themselves. After so many hours of giving to everyone else, just a little late-night binge watching to soothe the soul is usually warranted. Sadly, when we deprive ourselves of sleep, our nervous system doesn’t receive the reset it needs to cope with the daily demands once those kiddos begin rising. Try to put yourself (and your tech) to bed a bit earlier to reap the rewards of rest.
Meet up with friends who have kids the same age. The kids can play while the parents talk, vent, and help create connections with a fellow adult who can sympathize with the stresses of early parenting.
Lowering expectations of yourself is caring. Doing less frees up time to be with our families in a more relaxed way. Whether it means fewer commitments outside of the house or reducing the chores you do in the house, cut back where you can.
Swap childcare with friends or family. Take an actual break that doesn’t include doing anything for anyone but you, and give that gift to fellow parents.
Remember to ask for what you need. To the outside world, you look like you’re coping beautifully! Friends, family, or even your partner, might not think to offer you a break. You need to ask for the time you deserve, and then work with your inner voice to not feel guilty for taking that time. Examples of positive self-talk “I’m a good parent when I take time to take care of myself”, and “Other people can take good care of my children during my afternoon off and it benefits them to feel love from my family and friends”.