We have so many questions when we first have a baby. Much of our focus up to that point has been on pregnancy and birth so when we are suddenly faced with looking after that baby it can be quite shocking. No matter how much we feel we prepared it can be very daunting when we take baby home and suddenly, we have all this responsibility. I remember feeling completely lost and just staring at the baby thinking now what? What do I do? How do I take care of you?
I’m sure I am not alone in having those thoughts.
All our energy goes into thinking about caring for our new baby and actually caring about our new baby and wondering if we are getting it right. Feeling like we are getting it wrong. Feeling like it isn’t how we imagined it would be. People told you you’d be tired right? But that didn’t prepare you for how tired you would be!
And all the focus is on the baby. People want to see the baby, talk about the baby, ask questions about the milestones and what the baby can do, give you advice about the “right way” to be doing everything. It’s amazing how much other people are an expert on what is right for you and your baby!
I remember when the friend I lived with had a baby the main offer of help was “I’ll hold the baby” so that we could get on with cooking, cleaning etc. and my head was screaming “That’s not what we need!” but I couldn’t say that. It didn’t feel right. What we really needed was care, support with everything else so we could just focus on looking after the baby.
Society seems to expect that we can do it all. That we are failing if we are not back to a pre-pregnancy weight by the time baby is 6 months old. And so, we push ourselves to do everything. In doing so we forget about the most important person of all.
We forget about ourselves.
We forget that we matter, that we need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. If we don’t look after ourselves then we are running on empty batteries!
This is where self-care comes in. It can feel like a buzz word or a nice to have and very often we dismiss it thinking we haven’t got time for that. There is far too much going on in our lives to do with the baby and the house and our partners and maybe other children that we focus on everyone else, and this ultimately results in us feeling run-down, resentful, un-seen, taken advantage of, uncared for. There is a fundamental rule at play here.
The way we treat ourselves teaches
other people how to treat us.
If we don’t take time for ourselves to care for ourselves in all ways, then other people won’t see that’s how we need to be treated. If we disregard ourselves as unimportant and not worth taking time over, then this is exactly what we get back from other people. It’s human nature, it’s responding unconsciously to the signals we receive. So, when we don’t practice self-care we can also lose out on care and support others may have offered.
What is self-care?
Self-care is a general term that describes everything you do deliberately for your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. ‘Deliberately' is one of the most important words in the definition. You need to be conscious of your well-being before you can achieve true self-care. It starts from the simple acts like not checking social media or emails at night if you know it affects your sleep and includes bigger things like booking holidays and massages you need one.
Why is it important?
Self-care encourages you to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself so that you can transmit the good feelings to others. You cannot give to others what you don't have yourself. Self-care isn’t selfish! When you pay adequate attention to your well-being, you're not considering your needs alone. You're reinvigorating yourself so that you can be the best version of yourself for the people around you. Everyone around you also benefits from the renewed energy and joy you exhibit. This is a really important point to remember when you are resistant to it as a parent. Because by taking care of yourself you are directly making a difference to your child or children. If you don’t take time to charge your batteries, you are more likely to be short tempered and be triggered by things your baby or child does and this can lead to fee