I am currently 5 months postpartum with my third boy. My older boys are three and a half and twenty two months. The adjustment to motherhood was a complete whirlwind and my role as a mother has now compounded by having three tiny humans that all depend on me for life, protection, nurturing and support. No big deal, right? I only have 3 tiny humans to feed and keep alive on the daily, while also trying to function as a human being myself. It’s a MAJOR deal. Moms are in the trenches every minute of every day. No sick days. No time off. No going to the bathroom alone.
Don’t get me wrong, motherhood is an absolute blessing. My boys are my ENTIRE world and the most amazing human beings to ever grace the planet. Not that I’m biased. I am not trying to diminish the beauty that is being a mom, but man that sh*t is hard.
My third son was born last August, and 24 hours after we brought him home from the hospital, the entire house got sick. The two older boys were up in the night more than the newborn and my husband and I were getting up nonstop (dad’s dont have it easy either). This sickness was the beginning of a 14 week stretch of the flu, hand foot mouth, mastitis, a leg injury, strep throat, an ear infection, and bronchitis. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office for literally the 12th time, getting new antibiotics prescribed for my bronchitis (because I had just had an allergic reaction to the first one I was given), and the doctor telling me that if I wanted to kick this infection, I needed to hydrate and get some rest. Umm, what? Rest?! I am a mom to a newborn, a one year old, and a three year old. Sleep? Rest? I don’t even know the words you speak of. All I wanted was to rest and recover, but when you’re a mom the show must go on.
I see all the hard work you are doing. I see that you put the needs of those tiny humans before your own wants and needs everyday. I see that you put your career on hold to stay home with a baby, or are working two jobs to make sure your kids are fed. You Mama, are a total rockstar. But who is taking care of you? Maybe you have a supportive partner who does more than their share, or maybe you are single. Either way, if we dont learn to be kind to and take care of ourselves– we will burn out. Taking care of yourself may not look the way it did before you had kids, but there are some important things we can be doing as mothers to care for ourselves, such as:
Asking for help
This sounds so basic, but how many of us moms try to do and keep up with everything?! We feel that we need to have a clean house, make healthy meals from scratch, be a good mom, be a good wife, etc. We are so busy trying to do it all, that we often don’t stop and ask for help when we need it. It is SO IMPORTANT to ask your partner, or mom, or friend for what you need. If I’ve had a rough day, I will let my husband know, and will ask to have a shower and hide out by myself for a while to regroup. Even if I lay on my bed and do absolutely NOTHING, I’m taking care of me in those moments.
It is way too easy for a mama who stays home with her little ones to fall through the cracks! No! Please, no! Push yourself to stay connected; it will make being home with your children so much easier! I’ve been much more housebound with my third baby than my previous two maternity leaves. I am a very social and outgoing person, so this has taken some adjusting, but I’m extremely thankful to live in a time where I can stay connected with so many amazing moms online! Find people who have similar interests and stay connected with them. Whether it is walking the dogs together, or sharing a passion for photography. Whatever it is, who ever it is, push yourself to stay connected!
Being kind to yourself
Some days are amazing; you do your hair and makeup, get everything on your list done, and feel like you are rocking this mommy thing. Other days, you look homeless and accomplish nothing. Guess what?! Your value as a mother doesn’t change just because you have items left on your to do list. Your value as a mother doesn’t change because you haven’t showered or are covered in spit up. Your value as a mother doesn’t change if your house is a disaster, if your kids have more screen time then normal because everyone is sick, or if you didn’t feed them vegetables with dinner today. Being a mom is hard enough as it is without your inner critic pointing out what you are doing wrong all the time. Stop. Breath. Say something kind to yourself. Rinse and repeat many times a day!
Having a hobby
Ya sure Erica, with all my free time I will commit to taking on a hobby. I know it sounds crazy, right?! But seriously mama: you need to find something you look forward to and that makes you happy. I’m not just talking about the glass of wine you pour at the end of the day. Maybe it’s photography, or a mommy and me yoga class. Perhaps it’s a stroller fit class with other moms, or a women’s church group. Whatever your interests, try to find SOMETHING that you enjoy and and go do it!
Monitoring for postpartum depression and anxiety
I’ve had three boys and attended countless appointments for each baby to make sure that they were growing, hitting milestones, and were overall healthy. NOT ONCE did any of those professionals ask ME how I was doing. I’m fortunate enough to have training and know the signs of postpartum depression, so when it rolled in like the thickest black cloud I had ever experienced after having my third boy, I knew what it was. Look for my other guide on the signs of postpartum depression and/or anxiety. If you are even questioning whether you are suffering with either of these, please talk to your doctor, a therapist, a friend, your partner, a support group online, someone– ANYONE! Do not suffer alone in silence! The sooner you talk about it and get the help you need, the sooner you will get back to feeling like yourself again.
I know, I know, the list didn’t include a trip to the spa or getting a massage. But, let’s face it: that type of self care isn’t always realistic. At least not for me as a mom of three young kids on maternity leave. If you are able to get away for a mani and pedi, then go for it! At this point, I’m lucky to get a shower. In the meantime, while we daydream about gradually regaining some of those freedoms, try these realistic self care tips and drop me a comment to let me know how it goes!
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