Self-care is easy...unless you have a demanding job, a family, a home to maintain, pets...basically a life.
Before children, my entire life centered on my wants and needs. As a yoga instructor and health coach, I would preach about the importance of caring for you through movement, diet, and spirituality.
It was effortless for me to exercise, prepare nutritious meals, meditate, spend time with my spiritual community, and read books that inspired personal growth when I had no children. Self-care was the foundation of my lifestyle.
I had no idea what to expect when having children. Once I had my daughter, all of my beautiful practices fell away.
I had my retained placenta manually removed and an episiotomy, which made my recovery much longer than I intended. Orange Theory Fitness and yoga pre-baby transformed into neighborhood walks with my daughter.
My go-to breakfast of avocado toast and lunch of an epic salad seemed like too much effort, so I survived on iced coffee and Door Dash for months.
Meditation never happened for at least the first year.
Time spent with my spiritual tribe was difficult because I always had my daughter with me, making it hard to focus on the conversation and get the support I desired.
Reading also never happened outside of family vacation when I got to read one book.
For over a year, I did not prioritize myself in any manner. I sacrificed everything for my daughter, not understanding that I was not giving Phoenix my best self by not caring for myself. Slowly, I became exhausted, resentful, and apathetic until I no longer recognized myself, not realizing the root of the problem.
Self-care has been a trendy hashtag and topic in society for the last few years. But I feel like it has been minimized down to bubble baths, massages, buying something nice, or eating decadent. These things are fine and if they make you feel fabulous and relaxed, go for it!
But what does the word self-care mean?
The definition of care is providing what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.
We are trained in our jobs and as parents to care for our company and children. But many times, that comes at the expense of caring for ourselves.
Many studies have demonstrated improved efficiency and quality of work in employees who have shorter workdays, better working conditions, more vacation days, etc.
We also know how a child thrives when loved and cared for versus a neglected child.
As adults, it is no one's responsibility besides our own to care for ourselves. When we are cared for, we thrive.
Self-care looks different for each individual. We all have specific needs and desires based on our lifestyle, culture, family, career, and health.
My definition has evolved. My daughter is now 16 months, and my son is due any day.
To nourish me in this new chapter of my life with two kids, I have prepped and froze enough lunches to last me the first three months after Rogue is born. I have meal-planned easy dinners that are nourishing but take 20 minutes of prep or less. Both are simple things that can make a massive difference to my energy and attitude.
I currently have a wonderful babysitter that comes twice a week for 3 hours, which will continue after Rogue is born. I just implemented this at the end of June, and I have already noticed a difference in my mental health by having a little space and time alone each week.
I plan to exercise, meditate, spend time with my tribe, and read post-birth (all still important to me). However, I know now that it is tough to plan for something you have no idea will be like, so maybe they will come to fruition and maybe not. Having grace and patience with myself instead of harsh criticism and judgment is part of my self-care now.
The point is, now I am thinking about what I want and need-with no guilt.
I no longer live in the stupid story I created based on unrealistic expectations before becoming a mother. I used to judge stay-at-home moms as lazy and believed that if I had the time they did, I would get so much accomplished and then some. So I felt guilty when I wanted a break and time to myself because wasn't being at home all day enough?
Now I understand that I must consider and prioritize my self-care to be the best parent, partner, daughter, sister, and friend.
When was the last time, if ever you evaluated what you needed for your health, welfare, maintenance, and protection?
How often do you do something for yourself because you want or need it, with no guilt, shame, or judgment?