Being a relatively new mom, with a daughter who is 15 months old, self care is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I went back to work around three months ago, and have found the transition to be challenging, after being on maternity leave for just over 13 months. For some moms it is an easy transition, but for others it can be difficult. People tend to call it a transition, but my experience felt more like a switch – one day you spend every waking moment with your baby and the next, you’re working eight hours a day, plus the commute.
Upon returning to work, you may find that your identity has changed. You are now so many more things than you were before you left. Understanding who you are as a person, a working mother, takes time and is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s important to figure out who you are; you have the ability to decide for yourself and establish your new, transformed identity. Becoming a parent is so powerful for so many reasons, but most especially because it gives you a chance for renewal.
I’ve been finding it especially hard to balance the things that are important in my life: cooking healthy food for my family, spending time with my daughter, getting enough sleep, just to name a few. My list is long, though. When I reflect on how my time is spent, I notice that I’ve been putting myself last, putting effort into my relationships with family and friends, but not myself. It finally hit me that I needed to make a change. After all, how can we expect to care for others without first taking care of ourselves?
I knew I needed to carve out some time to reflect on all the big changes I was going through in terms of going back to work. I was inspired by a Mama blogger who was raving about date nights, with yourself! I thought it was a fantastic idea. So far I’ve spent a lovely evening taking a hot bath while enjoying a hot cup of tea with honey, and another night I broke out an old hobby and started knitting again. Whatever it is that makes you feel happy and relaxed, try booking some time with yourself to make those things happen. Now that I am more mindful of how I am spending my time at home, I have found that self-care at home is actually easy, fun and so beneficial. I also try very hard to carry those moments of calm and relaxation that arise from doing things just for me into the rest of my week.
There are some types of self-care that you just can’t do at home, though. This I am still struggling with. Doing it in the morning isn’t an option for me, I’m pooped by the time I get baby to bed in the evening, and all I want to do on the weekend is spend time with her. One technique I’ve found helpful is creating accountability either with yourself or someone else. I’ve tried scheduling yoga classes in my calendar, pre-paying for classes or planning to go with a friend, but it doesn’t always work out as planned. Most importantly, I try not to get down on myself when I just can’t get it done that day, because hey, we’re all human. I like to think of this as self-care too, going easy on myself is just as important as making it to that yoga class.
I think it’s important to listen to your body and what it needs. Being aware of your self care is the first step toward finding the right balance for yourself. It’s not easy, especially when you’re trying to balance family and work, but finding time for reflection and self-care is extremely important for your well being.