You get plenty joy from tending to your little one’s needs, but you may have slipped to the bottom of your own priority list. This might originate from the belief that prioritising your own needs is selfish, but Centurion-based life coach Sharon Piel says taking care of your own needs, whether it’s physical, emotional, mental or spiritual, is actually self-care. “As a mother, taking care of yourself is essential as you cannot take care of anyone else if you are feeling emotionally and physically drained. This is especially true for moms of young children who demand so much of our time,” she says.
Sharon offers some tips to help take care of your own needs:
Start by asking yourself introspective questions
What do I need right now? Where am I feeling deprived? Who can I ask for help? What support do I need? How can I make some time for myself?
Make sure you eat healthy and regularly to maintain your energy levels and get enough sleep. This one is challenging for moms of babies and toddlers, but try to nap when they are having a nap. The dishes can wait.
Recharge over something you delight in
Do something fun or relaxing that you enjoy every day – even if it’s only for a few minutes. You might read a book or do some arts and crafts, whatever it is that relaxes and rejuvenates you.
Schedule some time to socialise
Meet with a friend for coffee or arrange a playdate with a friend who has children of a similar age. Somewhere with a child-minder is ideal so you can relax.
Arrange a babysitter
If you and your partner need time to reconnect, go on a date night, or if you need to go for a massage, manicure or facial, or just catch up on sleep, hire a babysitter or arrange with a grandparent or someone you trust to watch the kids. You’ll feel relaxed and invigorated.
Ask for help if you need it
Don’t judge yourself because you feel you’re not coping. There’s no shame in asking for help.
Spend less time on electronic devices
Be intentional about how you spend your time. Instead of spending hours on screen time, rather do something relaxing or take a nap.
Practise mental self-care
Be aware of your emotions. If you’re feeling irritable, frustrated, angry or have low moods, try to do something uplifting. Watch a comedy or funny videos, exercise, journal or meditate.
Notice any aches and pains in your body
This can be a symptom of stress and physical exhaustion. Take a long, hot bath and unwind.
Make your life easier
Bulk cook on the weekends when your partner is home to help with the kids. Freeze enough meals for a few days so you don’t need to cook dinner every day.
Spend some time alone
Use this time to take a walk outside, practise mindfulness, pray or meditate.
Practise gratitude every day
What are you grateful for? As exhausted as you may be, there’s always something.
Thobeka Phanyeko is mom to Oratile, 4. She is a journalist with a BA in Media studies from the University of Cape Town and has extensive experience as a journalist and content producer which she gained from Reuters, eNCA and Caxton Magazines. She is also a life coach and NLP Practitioner and is passionate about motherhood and women empowerment.