Treat yourself vs. self-care
How do you like to treat yourself? Spa day? A long walk in the woods or by the water? Retail therapy? Happy hour with friends? Sweats, sofa, and Netflix with Ben&Jerry’s? My ideal weekend getaway includes a little of all these things! But when I was in the trenches with my newborn, these special treats were not what I was most after. I knew I needed to take care of myself but my go-to self-care treats did not give me as much pay off as being able to maintain a few small daily habits.
These little things might be a bit trickier for you to uncover. What do you think you need to get going every day? What makes you feel ready to take on the world? Is there any one thing you do every day that makes even the crummiest days just crummy and not an outright write off?
Well, if you’ve had a truly crap day recently, this will be an easy exercise. Otherwise, just imagine with me. You've had a really rough day at work/with your family/with the baby. It was so bad. You’re feeling miserable, and going over all the things that just wouldn’t go right. Now finish this sentence: I didn’t even get to _______ today! It was awful!
Have a shower?
Finish my coffee?
Brush my teeth?
Go outside at all?
See… listen to… read… play…
Which of your small comfort routines, if missed, would make your bad day to go from rough to utter misery?
This, new mother, is the thing you need to prioritize in the weeks and months after having a baby. You need to tell your partner and anyone who comes into your life to help with the baby that this particular set of priorities is really important to you. Motherhood is such demanding work, all day long, day after day, and I can forego a shower here or there, and on miserable days I might not make it out the door, but I matter too! You, new mother, matter, and your preferences, your tiny luxuries, your basic needs matter.
You’re not selfish for needing to sit down with your hot drink for 15 minutes of quiet in the morning. It’s not indulgent to need to be able to change out of your PJs in the morning to feel like a real person. It’s not too much to ask to get to finish a whole meal at the table instead of getting a few bites of food here and there at the counter throughout the day. It’s not. Yes, of course the baby is priority #1, but if you have a partner who is raising this baby with you then you have to try to work out a routine or set of expectations that includes this particular set of priorities for feeling human for you.
If you’re expecting in 2018, take a few minutes to think out and write out your few basic needs to get you through the day and then work them into your Postpartum Plan. Motherhood is hard, but it shouldn’t feel like misery. When the days are hard and your tank is running on empty, it’s the little things that will keep you moving forward and looking for a better day tomorrow.