Self-care can be a real challenge in the early postpartum and throughout early motherhood. With a little one needing care 24/7, a home to keep somewhere in the realm of clean, adult relationships to nourish, maybe other kids to care for, and often additional work inside or outside the home, it can be hard enough to get food in our bellies and count on more than one hand how much sleep we had the night before. But self-care is paramount, especially in the postpartum and first year of motherhood when we are often depleted and giving far more than we are receiving. Mamas need a full well of their own to keep giving as motherhood requires. They also need a full well because they deserve to BE well.
We probably all have enough checklists of things we need to do. Here is a simple little check IN list for mamas—a way to become more aware of how well you are nourishing and caring for yourself. Notice where you fall on the spectrum (how many “yes” and “no”s) and allow this to guide you towards greater self-care.
Check IN list for Mama Self-Care
____ _____ I allow myself to rest when I am tired
____ _____ I nap regularly or as often as I can
____ _____ I drink enough fluids daily
____ _____ I am eating well—I am able to eat when I am hungry, I eat often throughout the day, and the foods I eat are healthy and nourishing, particularly for me as a postpartum (breastfeeding) mother
____ _____ I eat something fresh and natural at least once daily
____ _____ I spend time in nature at least once, if not several times, a week
____ _____ I get sunlight (nearly) everyday
____ _____ I take care of my physical needs and wellbeing
____ _____ I get help or take measures to address physical issues that may arise.
____ _____ I take good care of my teeth
____ _____ I am able to keep up on personal hygiene as I’d like (bathing, nails, hair, etc)
____ _____ I exercise regularly and in ways that replenish (not deplete) my body and make me feel good
____ _____ I make time to relax and slow down
____ _____ I find time for things I really enjoy
____ _____ I regularly engage my creativity in some way
____ _____ I ask for help when I need it
____ _____ I speak up when my needs are not being met and seek solutions
____ _____ I forgive myself and others
____ _____ I take time to laugh
____ _____ I make time for my partner, my friendships, and other important relationships
____ _____ I practice kindness toward myself and my mothering, knowing I am doing the best I can in every moment
____ _____ I release expectations that don’t serve me
Answering these three questions after checking in may also help to clarify what action you might take to enhance your self-care:
- What are three to five ways I could improve my self-nourishment?
- Whom can I ask for help or support to improve in these ways? What would help or support look like?
- I deserve to take these actions because: (you fill in the blank).
Be as kind to yourself as you are to your child.
Give yourself permission.
Advocate for yourself.
Ask for support.