“Self-love and self-acceptance are the first steps to bliss.” – Vasant Lad
Carving out the time for your sacred window – those incredible first six to eight weeks after birth – allows you the space for deep rejuvenation, nurturing a strong foundation for your ongoing health and wellbeing, as well as the wholeness of your relationship with your child. This is an ideal time to commit to your self-care; paying special attention to what and how you eat in order to rekindle digestion and rebuild your tissues, receiving or giving yourself daily oil massage, incorporating time-tested rejuvenative herbal foods, and accepting loving care and support to encourage a peaceful home environment and ensure that your emotional needs are met.
But how about the time after your sacred window “closes”? How do you envision transitioning from the rhythm of rest and relaxation you’ve established with your baby to wherever your life is headed next? What might self-care look like as you travel into your first year with Baby?
As you move forward into evolving self-care rhythms, consider the following insights. You may wish to read through these tips and perspectives in planning your transition from your sacred window into a fuller swing of your life. And feel free to check in with these ideas anytime during your first year postpartum and beyond.
Foster accurate self-perception and compassion towards yourself
How clear is your self-perspective? Remember your specific external circumstances and inner reality. When thinking of yourself, consider your current housing, economic/financial status, relationship/partnership status; as well as the time of year, the climate where you live, and neighborhood you live in. Take into account your own tendencies, preferences, wounds, interests, and all other facets of your inner nature. Consider your family size and remember how far along postpartum you are.
It can be much too easy to slip into thinking of yourself as you used to be. But you simply are not who you used to be. Remember to make mental space for accepting the new You.
Have compassion for yourself and what is NEW for you. Even if it seems that nothing else has changed, you have never been you in all these circumstances while mothering/parenting this new person/people. You’ve never been here with them – and – who YOU are, rebirthed.
Tending your soul: feed your greatest passions and joys
Connect with your passions, at least a little bit each day. Remember what makes you feel most ALIVE and fulfilled from within, and stay close to the joy. This is food for your soul.
If you are taking a break from an activity you REALLY love due to postpartum recovery or lifestyle changes as you incorporate your new child(ren), how might you keep this beloved treasure in your environment? Are there books, magazines, pictures, podcasts, or conversations with friends that can facilitate you staying connected to your joy?
Remind yourself that you don’t have to “put your dreams on hold forever” and that your child(ren) will love to know you do what makes you truly happy. It will encourage them to follow their passions, too.
And if there is a facet of your postpartum recovery that limits your involvement with a desired activity, seek out beneficial healthcare such as pelvic physical therapy or consult with your midwife or other care provider to determine what will help you make your return to your favorite activities.
Ask yourself: How can I be in the most centered place in myself when my child/ren wake(s) up in the morning, throughout the day, and when I’m heading to bed?
Your answers to these questions may serve as a compass orienting you towards greater self-love and accurate awareness of what will be impactful self-care for you, moment to moment and day to day. This will also guide you into being the best parent you can be.
Breathe with Awareness
Breathing with awareness brings your attention back into your body and into the present – and it’s accessible! You can do it anywhere, any time, in any position.
Here are some simple options:
- Breathe deeply, taking long and slow inhales and exhales. For increased relaxation, try counting your breaths down from 10 to zero. Something about hitting that zero invites deeply nourishing relaxation.
- Notice where your breath enters and exits your body. Focus, softly, on the sensation of breath touching your nostrils and upper lip as you inhale and exhale.
- Notice where in your body you feel your breath. Don’t judge; simply allow an inquiry within, and notice the movement of breath within your body.
Treasure any and every quiet moment and moment alone
Value any moment you have alone with yourself or within silence, no matter how brief. Just notice these pauses in your day and week, become aware of them, soak them in. Take a deep breath and smile!
Ask what your body needs in a given moment
Do what you can right now and throughout the day to give your body what it asks for. If what your body calls out for is not within your reach right now, plan for fulfilling that need as soon as possible.
Connect with Spirit
Sometimes we get caught up in the day-to-day life of parenting and lose sight of the deeper truth of our existence. Maybe we feel our life is mundane. Connecting with Spirit or God, the Divine, or the sacredness of Life is a personal quest, and one that is necessary for our health and well-being. Consider these words from Suzi Lula, author of The Motherhood Evolution: How Thriving Mothers Raise Thriving Children:
Something is spiritual when it comes from your essential self. This is why it’s so important not to try to follow someone else’s prescription for living a spiritual life. Simply live your life in a manner that’s infused with your spirit, and you will be living a spiritual life.
Don’t use your self-care practices or routine as a measuring stick for judging your self-worth. In fact, self-respect may be the most vital element of self-care. You matter because you matter, not because of what self-care tasks you do or don’t accomplish or how frequently.
Think outside the box
Let yourself try new (or old) practices and routines, and don’t punish yourself for not doing them “perfectly.” Treat yourself with love!
Love says, “Okay, this is what you want to do. How might we best achieve that?”
Try a new way. Try a different time of day for your self-care routine or reorder the pieces of it. Employ your creativity. Explore what self-care can look like in unconventional settings such as the playground or in the kitchen. What does self-care look like in challenging moments, such as tending to a fussy baby in the middle of the night (or any time of day!)?
Remember why you’re committed to self-care and remember the impact of modeling it for your children
As parents, we are the primary role models for our children as they learn how to be human. If you model authentic self-care, your children will embody this mode of living within themselves.
And remember why you’re dedicated. Self-care is your own way of showing yourself love and respect and letting yourself be a more whole person. This means greater satisfaction in your experience of being alive AND greater good you get to do for the world around you and all the people in it.
Let yourself dream and redefine your vision any time. Let yourself be renewed, rebirthed.
Remain open to change, to the ongoing newness of mothering and parenting. Remember that we often reach moments of feeling like we’ve “finally figured this out” immediately preceding a change that throws us for a loop. Mothering and parenting is not about knowing all the answers all the time. Remember that your child chose you to steward them into this life. Remember they are here with you on purpose.
Self-care is about loving yourself all the time, even when you feel like you don’t know how to love yourself or what taking care of yourself means. It’s all right. Simply pause, take a breath you pay attention to, and feel gratitude for this moment of your life – this moment right here, right now.
And if you’re wanting ideas on how to do self-care while mothering and parenting a baby (even beyond this first year), go back to the beginning of this article and read again…and remember there will always be more ideas for how to care for yourself, but there is only one you. So treasure yourself. And you’ve already begun.