Self-Care for the Exhausted Mother

When we get in the habit of putting everyone else first, it doesn’t make us better mothers. Quite the contrary, don’t you think? We end up physically and emotionally spent, and so it continues every day.

The coronavirus has overtaken our lives and a lot of our sanity. We are all looking for a refuge, not just from this pandemic, but from the emotional weight we’re constantly carrying around.

It doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, so we’ve got to be creative with our time. This putting-ouselves-second practice is not sustainable, for us or our families.

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Self-care is something we’re all in need of right now and it feels so far out of reach. It seems like a distant daydream; something we can can perhaps just imagine, but not quite grasp. The reality is that we need to start grabbing onto self-care and holding it close, because if we don’t, things are only going to continue on as they are, eventually manifesting into further exhaustion and lack of control in our lives.

Many of us (myself included) are lost though; not sure where to begin and constantly asking where to find the time. The answer is easy, we can’t find time, we have the same amount every day. Instead we have to make it. In order to start a new self-care habit, we literally have to force ourselves to put this time aside.

Perhaps you have a partner to lean on so you can have 15 minutes alone. Maybe your children are older and you can leave them to fend for themselves for a little bit, or if you have a young baby you can make use of your baby swing and let your little one rock for five minutes. You can even turn the tv on and let your kids can have some good ol’ fashioned screen time.

I’m not talking about a a luxurious, hour-long bubble bath every night when I discuss self-care (but if you can manage this, that’s awesome!). My ideas are much simpler and quickly executed. After all, we don’t have much time to begin with. It’s oftentimes the little things that have the most impact, so I say start with the little things.

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Simply locking the door when you go to the washroom can give you a couple of minutes to catch your breath. Or making sure you sit and enjoy your coffee or tea while it’s still hot in the morning; making yourself and your needs a priority. It could be downloading a free app and going through a daily or weekly one-minute meditation. Maybe a sheet mask in the evening would grant you five minutes of peace. And if sleep is what you’re after…I say go for it and actually do what they say and sleep while you’re baby’s sleeping (if you have a baby who sleeps, that is)!

This is all to point out that there are small, meaningful ways we can take care of ourselves right now. Whether it’s scrolling through social media or painting our nails, once you’ve figured out how to put the time aside, focus on what you’d like to do for yourself.

I am so tired, but I feel like this is a different kind of tired. How about you? If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s shown us how far we can be stretched. Being a stay-at-home parent is exhausting on its own. In the same breath, being a working parent is exhausting. Now that we’re doing everything all at once, it’s no wonder we all need a break.

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I’d guess we have less than an hour to ourselves every day. And this is usually time at the end of the day, when the kids are asleep. You’ll be doing yourself (and your family) a huge favour by taking care of yourself first. It doesn’t mean that you’re putting them aside or minimizing their needs, it’s simply recognizing the strength you can possess when you use self-care to your advantage. This is a vital practice to maintain our emotional health.

You’re Not Alone Campaign

The daily schedule, predictability and slices of “me time” that you held so dear are gone, and your new normal is… challenging. But we want you to know you aren’t flying solo. There’s a whole community of mamas all over this country (and the world!) who are navigating these changes together one day at a time. Owlet reached out to moms who are managing a new normal without daycare, breaks-from-the-kiddos, parks or playdates to find out how they’re handling the changes to their day-to-day lives. We hope their insights remind you that you can do this, and that you are not alone.

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Danica

Mother of three little girls

How are you adjusting to this “new normal”?

This is hard. This isn’t at all what I had imagined and dreamed about for my next baby. I had planned on lots of neighborhood play, enjoying parks and warm weather, and visiting family & friends. Instead we’re stuck at home alone with a newborn and two toddlers and just trying to enjoy the great parts of it without dwelling on the way we wish things were.

Sara

New mama to a 10 month old baby boy

Share some of the highs and lows you’ve experienced.

The lows always come from far away, at this point. I miss my city, I miss my home, I miss all the plans we had for the immediate future. The lows also come from within me, and I recognize that I have some power to help me through the lows. I always feel like I need to acknowledge my feelings instead of ignoring them. Talking about my struggles with my husband is a balm to my soul. A good cry also helps. The highs come from being a mother, and having someone to care for and focus on other than myself. The highs include seeing my son crawling and gaining mobility and speed. They come from seeing him so happy because he gets more time with his dad than he’s used to. They come from his budding friendship with his cousins. They come from unscheduled time with family.

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Rebbie

New mom to baby boy
“Whether going for a walk, sitting on our back patio, or streaming a yoga class while he naps (he woke up as soon as I got to savasana, naturally), I’ve found that getting out and being active has been necessary for my sanity.

We had a tiny bit of cookie dough left in our fridge and instead of tossing it, I decided to bake it. Yes, I baked one single cookie for my husband and I to split. When small things are all you have, you celebrate the small things.

I am not one who believes there is any rush to get back to pre-pregnancy clothes, but one day I needed to put on something other than joggers. Wearing jeans and a blouse was a fun way to feel like part of my life was put together, if only for a day.

Paternity leave was not long enough. Having Dad home to sneak down and hold our boy on breaks or between meetings has been such a silver lining.

There is more confusion and fear right now than at any other time of my life. But when this little guy smiles, all feels right in the world.”

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Katie

New mom to a baby boy

What advice would you would offer to other mamas right now?

Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Do whatever works for you and your baby. You are the best mamma for your baby! You are exactly what they need. You’re doing amazing!

Read full interviews here

Words by Melissa Curman

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