I don’t really remember if I thought about self-care until I became a Mother. Understandably so, as I was on my own and responsible to no other living being, save for my cats.
Upon joining the ranks of motherhood – the You-sleep-when-they-sleep Gang, the Make-sure-you’re-still-getting-out-there Club – the unsolicited advice givers came out in full force. My understanding of self-care was to complete a list of things that mothers should do; attend play groups and library read-alongs, frequent provincial resource facilities and their mother groups, and baby groups, engage and socialize to help your baby grow. In general, the list for all good mothers to follow, adhere to and exist within.
That good list is, seemingly, in place to encourage wellness for both the mother and the baby, but does it?
What if, like me, you live with anxiety and depression?
What if, like me, your anxiety increased to unprecedented levels after having the baby?
What if, like me, you accepted the self-induced mental abuse rather than experience the discomfort and suffocation of public gatherings?
What if, like me, dread, heightened heart rates, sweaty palms and accelerated breathing rates measured high and your own negative self-talk reinforced the reasons why you are failing your child, and at motherhood?
What if, like me, you started to take matters into your own hands, satisfying your needs and the needs of your child in a way that supported your journey and the personal growth that is to come out of it?
What if? …
The Good Motherhood is not one of should this or should that. The shoulds have only ever brought me anxiety, shame and guilt. When Self-Care becomes something that you must do or you have failed, the wrong message has been sent; to your brain and your children, who are always watching and learning how to be human.
Yes, you need to make yourself a priority.
Yes, you need to make time for yourself and your Self-Care practice.
I challenge you to incorporate Self-Care into your routine in response to you internal needs.
Work Self-Care into you routine as it relates to your schedule and your budget.
Ensure that you are inviting good and healthy practices into your Self-Care regime. For example, it is OK to slow down and take a day to yourself but the effectiveness of doing this changes if you have tendencies to use this type of Self-Care as an excuse to not do something. Avoidance and procrastination could be my self-title book however, I recognize these practices as merely an act of self destructive behaviour. Call it self-sabotage, call it whatever you like. Self-Care requires a commitment to self and the practice. Be mindful, note the benefits, practice gratitude. When you are committed you will begin to notice the affect. If you happen to misuse the practice you will be no further ahead and likely riddled with the very feelings you are trying to rise above.