Ten glorious, exhausting, joyful, challenging and life-changing months have come and gone in a blink of an eye since little Stuart was born. My early days revolved around feeding, sleeping (whenever I could) and diaper changes. I felt drained and overwhelmed; no one can prepare you for the sleep deprivation and challenges of motherhood. My “to-do” list was endless and I feared I would face absolute burnout.
During those first few months, my self-care was limited to the basics of showering (most days), enjoying a nice cup of tea and a few squares of dark chocolate, and eating a healthy diet (my quick go-tos in a bind where hard-boiled eggs, pre-washed organic greens, canned salmon, organic baby carrots and hummus).
Once we were in a bit of a routine with Stuart, I knew it was time to get back to taking care of myself to boost my energy and allow me to continue to give so much.
I started out small, so as to not add further overwhelm. Before Stuart was born, I had a set morning routine that I relished doing each day, starting off with 20-30 min of yoga, followed by 10 minutes of meditation and 5 minutes of journaling.
Carving out that much time for me was no longer in the cards. I felt it was reasonable to aim to do 10 min of yoga per day (while Stuart was sleeping) and get out for long walks whenever possible (which was easy to do, because during the first several months, the only place that Stuart would nap was in the stroller or carrier). Boy did it feel good to get back to movement and exercise!
As time marched on, I added in the following self-care rituals into my day:
- Meditating (for 10 minutes) and journaling (for 3-5 minutes) while pumping, since finding extra time was next to impossible. I used the Calm Meditation app and journalled using the template from The Five Minute Journal. Meditating helps me to be more mindful and present in my day and with my loved ones. Journaling helps me to find gratitude and appreciation for the small stuff, even if I am going through difficult times. I can’t stress enough how profound these practices have been in shaping my perception of and intention for each day.
- Making breakfast ahead of time, enough to last me for 3 days. I would prepare a large chia coconut pudding or overnight oats that I kept in the fridge. Each morning, I would portion out a serving size and add organic, frozen blueberries and a scoop of protein powder.
- Keeping a glass and/or bottle of water on each floor of the house: one upstairs to stay hydrated while breastfeeding, one at the kitchen table to sip on while eating or working away on my computer, and one in my basement clinic office to drink while treating patients. Staying hydrated energizes me, supports regularity and was crucial since I was breastfeeding Stuart every 2-3 hours.
- Listening to podcasts when out for walks while Stuart napped in the stroller, to stimulate my brain and to hear other moms going through similar challenges. My favourites included; Totally Mommy, Balanced Bites, The Tim Ferriss Show and The Goodlife Project. I also enjoy listening to audiobooks since sitting down and reading a book seems like a pipe dream now.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with your responsibilities and have neglected your self-care, don’t beat yourself up. It is never to late to put yourself on your “to-do” list and make self care a priority. Start out small; choose from a short walk, a tea break where you actually savour each sip, or 5 minutes of dancing to your favourite song. It can feel like a luxury, but at the end of the day, your cup has to be full before you can give to anyone else.