Sometimes after the initial weeks or months of mothering a baby, us mums can unexpectedly find ourselves confronting the feeling that we’ve just been driven over by a bus! This is simply the cumulative affect of providing 24-7 loving attention, ongoing sleep-deprivation, and the enormous emotional upheaval of parental responsibilities. This is a very normal sensation.
The question is what to do about it, if anything.
We can take onboard a somewhat martyrdom attitude that the situation is beyond our control. Or, we can realise that looking after our own needs as a priority too, can actually produce benefits for our children, because it enables us to feel re-energised.
Take a good daily multi-vitamin to help ensure ongoing wellness physiologically (special lactation multi-vitamins are available for breastfeeding mothers), as our bodies require an extensive variety of trace minerals, vitamins and elements, to function optimally.
2. Do Yoga:
Hatha Yoga (the exercise yoga we in the West are familiar with) is incredibly therapeutic because it is triadic – that is, it centres the mind, body and spirit. Attending yoga classes, following it on TV/YouTube, or using a DVD video can all be highly effectual.
3. Have a Massage:
Oh, I’d love to recommend the full-day treatment at an exclusive Spa, but that can be rarely logistically feasible, or even affordable. However many shopping malls have great little massage booths where for about $15 you can enjoy a 15-minute neck and shoulder massage – and after the hours of holding a baby, that quarter-hour can melt away many stresses and headaches.
4. For the sleep deprived, take a herbal sleep enhancement:
The insidious reality of enduring broken sleep, is that the longer it continues for, the more difficult it can be to sleep soundly when we do sleep. There are some wonderfully effective naturopathic sleep remedies, many of which contain the supplement 5-HTP [Hydroxytryptophan], which is the precursor (intermediate metabolite) for the body’s Serotonin (the neuro-transmitter that enables our brain to experience the emotions of happiness and contentment). Subsequently, a herbal sleep remedy that includes the boost of 5-HTP can be enormously beneficial for treating the side-effects of sleep-deprivation.
5. Catch up with Girlfriends:
Enjoying a coffee with friends who also have children can be wonderfully cathartic, as it allows you to know you are not alone with your joys and fears of motherhood.
6. Read a great Book:
Sometimes as mothers we can become so ‘obsessed’ with reading every bit of parenting printed and online literature ‘homework’ that we soon find it is weeks, or months, since we indulged in the peace of reading just for pure pleasure. So grab a great novel from the library, and enjoy!
7. Have ‘Date Night’:
Once a week or fortnight, or monthly at least (!) arrange some regular babysitting so you can both know you will enjoy a little unencumbered coupledom. It might be simply having fish ‘n’ chips together on a park-bench, but knowing for example, that every second Thursday night you will have two hours exclusively together, can be an extremely restorative tonic for a relationship.
8. Book ‘My Time’:
Book an appointment once a week for 1-2 hours with yourself, say to have a Sunday evening long soak in the bath with aromatherapy oils, candles and relaxing music. When the kids were little, I would say to my husband “Unless the house is on fire or someone is dying, I don’t want my bath to be interrupted darl”. As a mother, being kind to yourself with a little bit of My Time pampering, is tremendously uplifting, and fundamentally essential.
Goodness, sometimes mothers can begin to realise that it’s been a bloody awfully long time since they’ve cracked a smile on their frowning dial and enjoyed a deep eye-watering belly-laugh – and laughing is so SO healing. If you really don’t feel that you have much to laugh about right at the moment, laugh anyway to yourself! Laugh while you’re doing the vacuuming, laugh while you’re peeling the spuds, laugh, laugh, laugh – it’s guaranteed to take the edge off stressy days.
10. Be Grateful:
Consciously feel grateful for all the blessings in your life. Sometimes it’s so easy to have the negative dominate, that we can loose sight of the positive. As singer Sheryl Crow says It’s not about having what you want, it’s about wanting what you have. It’s human to forget this, so sometimes we all need to intentionally remind ourselves of how lucky we are.
At the end of the day, in fact at the end of every day, it is a truly great feeling, to know that you have also made yourself a priority in your own life.
This list is just a few ideas – and many more exist – as to how to unconditionally love YOURSELF, and not just your family.
Kathy Fray is a New Zealand writer and midwife, author of the best-selling “OH BABY…Birth, Babies & Motherhood Uncensored”, and internationally popular “OH GROW UP…Toddlers to PreTeens Decoded”, and body-mind-spirit manuscript award-winning “OH GOD – WHAT THE HELL DO I TELL THEM?! Guide for vaguely spiritual Parents”.