Taking care of yourself

 

As a new parent we may find ourselves constantly putting the needs of others first – whilst our our own needs and priorities can fall to the bottom of the list. Parenting is hard work. It is constant work. It is so easy to stop caring for yourself or to feel overwhelmed with the constant demands of a new baby.

When my baby came along they were front and centre of my world. Everything I planned to do revolved around him. As a mum that’s what you do.

We need to remember though, that in order that we can continue to provide for those who need and constantly depend on us, we need to take care of ourselves. When you stop caring for yourself, your ability to care for your child is impacted and your ability to enjoy motherhood is also impacted.

Looking back I now realise that I never made time for me, so my needs always came last. I ended up feeling drained, depleted and even a resentful towards my baby and other members of my family.

For many, taking care of yourself requires thought and planning – as the demands of your baby and the day can tend to take over. Even taking a few minutes each day to put your needs first, can help reduce feelings of stress and frustration. It can also help you to recharge and replenish yourself, allowing you to feel more patient and positive in the way that you think and feel and even help to reduce the likelihood of postnatal depression.

Tips for taking care of yourself

Below are some ways that you can take care of yourself.

  • Allocate a window of time for you each day – the amount of time you can spare and when you make this time will depend on your own routine and demands. It may be when the baby has a sleep, or some parents will set their alarm to waken them to have that space and time to themselves without interruption.
  • Take care of yourself physically – eating well, exercising and resting will help to give you energy and feel strong and replenished – as opposed to drained and depleted.
  • Take care of yourself mentally - this includes reducing the level of stress by not putting unrealistic demands on yourself. Having a day planned with a loose structure can enable you to experience a sense of achievement without too much pressure. Be prepared to accept that some days nothing on the list get’s done, so be prepared to let things go for a while.
  • Take care of yourself emotionally - this includes acknowledging your feelings and having the opportunity to express yourself – even when you may have negative feelings. Remember, it’s normal to feel bad sometimes when adjusting to a new baby. Also, focussing on positive feelings that you have and times when you feel good and can give you clues to pick-me-ups.
  • Take care of yourself socially – becoming a parent can be isolating, and lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Developing a support network that you can connect with, share experiences and provide mental and social stimulation can make a big difference to what can be long days.

Parenting is constant and can be hard work. It is only by taking care of yourself, that you can continue to provide for those who need you, and constantly depend on you.