Self care for new parents

Why self care matters

Self-care takes on a whole new meaning as a new parent. While caring for your small child, you are simultaneously caring for yourself, and miraculously at that. At times, finding space in the day for self-care can feel like an impossible goal. Other times, you can’t even remember eating lunch though somehow you managed to eat while doing something else. You forget how good that half cup of coffee was (if only you could remember where you left the mug). Caring for ourselves comes in different sizes and shapes. It is possible to master self-care amongst the chaos. For me, that’s just it! As soon as I accept the chaos and work with it, I can hone in on the deeper treasures self-care has hidden for me, each day.

All new parents know this: We are not always in control of circumstances of any given day. Nor are we in control of every outcome for every situation. But what we are in control of is how we handle all situations.

As a new mom to a 2 yr old and as a single mom, every single day I feel tested. Yup, I have lost it. I lose it less often now (this may be because I don’t like losing it, or that I have found practices that help me cope, and thrive). On a good day, I’ve hydrated adequately, eaten good chocolate, laughed a lot with my son, talked to a couple of clients (who smile, too), texted a friend to share how something is feeling, and trimmed my nails. On a not-so-good-day, I forgot I needed a nap, forgot to drink water all morning, multi-tasked a tad too much, and forgot to say I Love You.

The more you are aware of your needs, and can practice your style of self-care, the more present and relaxed and ready for the unknown you will be. Therefore, the more you can BE, and be there for your child.

5 Self-care tips from this Veteran Doula and Gentle Sleep & New Parent Wellness Coach

1) Schedule it in

Whether it’s a deep-tissue massage, a hot bath, a homemade dinner, your favorite take out, getting your eyebrows done, a haircut, an afternoon nap, reading two chapters of a book, seeing your therapist, exercising, going for a quick run, seeing the “girls” or the “guys”, spending time with your first born, schedule it in like you would an important doctor appointment.

2) Have an accountability buddy

Tell someone or a group of folks what you are working on for self-care on a daily or weekly basis. Share specific goals and activities and how you will achieve them (or ask your buddy for tips!). Be their accountability mirror as well; help them thrive, it will feel so good!

3) Don’t cancel it

If something comes in the way of you and your planned queen or king time, work around it. Reschedule it within the same day or within a few days. Remember, this is for you, and critical to your well-being. Be committed to what makes you shine.

4) Don’t set yourself up for disappointment

Schedule one thing at a time, and add in extra self-care time if there is space in the same day or in any given week. For example, if you want a massage and also want to prepare an involved homemade meal, make sure one task is scheduled in the morning and the other in the afternoon, or ask a partner or friend to help with the cooking, and/or someone to drive you to the massage. You are new parent and deserve support.

5) Remember how special you are (this is that deeper treasure I was talking about)

Yes you are special. You have every right to feel special for at least 3 years in my opinion (when my child reaches 3 yrs, I may change this rule to the rest of your life). You’ve just grown and birthed and are now raising a human. Your entire life has changed. Be in your feelings around new parenthood, seek out friends and professionals who can lend an ear and all their guidance. Don’t keep it all in. Healing happens when wounds are nurtured. Everyone deserves this kind of care and attention: it helps us to grow stronger and connect deeper to (and accept) our new selves.

About Erica

Erica Shane is a lead doula with Phoebe.  Erica is a seasoned childbirth doula, CLC, and sleep coach. She recently launched her Gentle Sleep Coaching practice, catered to parents who are exploring their own parenting styles & sleep goals. Erica guides her clients to naturally refine their own self-care while in her 4 week program. The well-being of the entire family is always at the center of her work.