Adjusting to motherhood is a lot harder than advertised
I will admit it now, but I had no idea how hard being a mom really was. You hear about the sleepless nights and aches and pains…but you don’t really know until you you’ve experienced it for yourself. I was so confident I was going to have spare time while the baby was sleeping, I made a list of blogs I wanted to write while I was out on maternity leave. (I can hear all the moms knowingly laughing at me right now) The demands on a new mom seemingly leave no time for ‘me time.’..at least it didn’t feel like it at first. But I have learned a few things that help. I am sharing them on the off chance that they aren’t just common sense that I missed somewhere along the way. And by the way–you don’t have to be a mom to apply these!
What is self care?
“Self-care is any act that is intentionally made for one’s own well-being. Self-care can be anything from applying sunscreen to spending time alone.” (www.selfcarehaven.blogspot.com/2007/09…)
Self-care is getting a reputation for being all about bath night and meditation, but it is so much more and so much simpler than that. In a nutshell, it is about putting your well-being first. If you aren’t in good condition, you won’t be in any condition to take care of anyone else.
Three things I learned about self-care this year:
Lesson 1: Self Care is NOT Selfish
Cliche, I know! But you really need to internalize that it is 100% okay to take some time for yourself. The first week after my c-section there was a morning when I looked at my husband and said, “I’m so drained, I forgot to take my medicine the last two days.” To his credit, he grabbed the baby and marched me upstairs to take a well-earned shower, nap, and of course the aforementioned meds. It’s not that I didn’t want to sleep or shower…I just had been putting everyone else’s needs before mine to the point of pure exhaustion…and I imagine stinkiness.
This applies to your career too. If your plate is overflowing for too many days or weeks in a row, it is going to take a toll on your mental and physical well being and if you aren’t at your best, you can’t give your best performance. Step back and take some time..which leads to lesson two…
Lesson 2: Make a List
Make a list of what YOU need and put it where you will see it, so you don’t get buried under the needs of everyone else. In my home, I have a post-it on the wall next to the computer with all the things that make me feel like I might be a little greedy to take/do. I pick one and get it on the calendar for the day. It can be anything from personal (dinner alone, going to the gym), to work-related (take an hour and take a new skills class or catch up on LinkedIn).
You know what works best for you, so don’t feel like you need to copy someone else’s list. Keep it simple. For me, I do better when there isn’t a laundry list of items in front of me: and one of the items CANNOT BE LAUNDRY!
Lesson 3: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Break (or anything else for that matter)
I have a really hard time asking for help. This may stem from the fact that I didn’t get married until I was almost 40. I spent a long time being an independent woman. The idea of asking for help=being vulnerable and that’s just never been my thing. So, asking my husband to cook dinner or take the baby or help me in any way was hard. But even harder was just expressing that I was feeling overwhelmed. This was a completely new experience for me and I struggled to get the words out. (This may have been the hormones too, but I totally cried the first time I uttered the words, “I need help.” But you know what, people are not mindreaders…they have no idea when you are at your max. Casual hints or comments just aren’t going to cut it. You absolutely have to be explicit in your requests. Especially if you’ve always been a rockstar or ‘superwoman’ as they like to label women nowadays. (Again–this is just as pertinent to the workplace as your home)
So, now that I’ve learned those things, I’m going to go ahead and put them into practice! Do you have any tips to add?
I hope this answers your questions about self-care. The next post will cover what self-care isn’t.