When you become a parent, you essentially split apart. Instead of worrying about yourself, or your partner, you now have to worry for a baby. A baby who cannot do ANYTHING without you.
You are tied to this child permanently, and it can be VERY overwhelming and particularly draining.
I remember in those first 6 months of having my first child, it was insane. Having a shower was a challenge, and one I didn’t want to do because I felt like every time I did anything for myself, the baby would cry.
My kids are now 5 and 7, and it’s so much easier for me to have “me time”, and to look after myself; but I look back on that time as a new Mum and wish I’d realised that it was ok to stop and take a moment for myself. The baby was always ok, and that it was actually important for me just to take those few minutes.
It’s not selfish to look after yourself. It’s just like the airline says “if you need to put the oxygen mask on, put it on yourself first and then your child”. Looking after yourself is beneficial to EVERYONE. You, your partner, your children.
Here are some realistic self-care tips for parents, to help you “fill your own cup”. You may just find you have more patience, and energy!
1. GET CHANGED
All too often as parents, we can get stuck wearing the same thing over and over again. Whether it’s pyjamas, track pants, or just the same old tee-shirt that you feel comfortable in. When you get changed out of the normal clothes you wear, you can feel fresher and slightly uplifted.
2. HAVE A SHOWER
I know some of these will seem like basic things to do, but I can tell you that as a struggling Mum, I didn’t have a shower each day. But when I did, I thought “man I should have a shower more often, I feel so much better”. Maybe play some music while you’re in there (if there’s a will there’s a way – I sometimes take my phone into the bathroom and put it on the window ledge), to help distract you. Phantom crying is a thing and I always used to hear my kids crying (even though they weren’t).
3. GET OUTSIDE
Either get exercise, go for a leisurely walk, or simply sit on the grass by your house. GET OUTSIDE. The power of “fresh” air is definitely a thing, and even by stepping foot outside of your house can have a huge effect.
4. BRUSH YOUR TEETH
I know that sounds ridiculous but you can get so caught up in parenthood that you forget to do even the simplest of things. Brushing your teeth every morning and night will help you feel fresher. The baby can come with you while you take 2 minutes out of your day to do this; at ANY point in the day. Not just in the morning or at night.
5. TURN UP THE MUSIC
Find the songs that bring you joy and make you want to dance – have yourself a dance party. Sing out of tune and dance like an idiot. We all have it in us to just let go and music is a great way to do it. EVEN FOR TWO MINUTES!
6. MOVIE TIME
Build a fort with your kids, or just build yourself a fort (if you have a baby who doesn’t appreciate forts yet LOL) and watch a movie together. Kids attention spans are that of a goldfish, so just enjoy the two minutes you get before they want to do something else.
Making time for yourself, even just a few minutes, is so important. Don’t feel guilty about it because you are better for taking that time.
Even if you want to go to the gym, and put your kids into care for an hour or so – looking after yourself is important.
NEVER feel guilty for wanting to look after yourself.