You’d be forgiven if thinking ‘self-care’ does not apply to you as a mum raising a young baby. You haven’t got time to think about yourself. And you’re not supposed to. Am I right, so far? Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You can’t raise a baby happily if you don’t also raise yourself.
It’s not our fault; we’ve inherited the martyr role that comes with being a mother. ‘Give birth, have a baby, forget all about yourself and spend your days giving yourself to everyone else around you.’
But it’s becoming acceptable now, and absolutely necessary, to put ourselves first, and feel good about it. Running ourselves into the ground suffocates us, makes us feel overwhelmed and stops us from being happy. It serves no one, least of all the small people we are trying to nurture. When you look at it like that, putting yourself first is actually putting them first too. And you’re showing your child that you value yourself; that’s their first lesson in self-esteem, right there.
So, how do we raise ourselves?
Simply put, we tell ourselves (and believe) that we have a right to be happy and we set about fulfilling that. We accept that our role as a mother is not a sacrificial one, it’s a collaborative one. For everyone is responsible for their own plight and happiness (I tell my children this often). If we don’t adopt this attitude early on, by the time our children reach their teens, we’ll have forgotten who we are and what our purpose is.
So, know that you are meant to be happy too and that you are a better caregiver when you are.
Factor in the time to eat something healthyish.
Do any form of exercise (a stronger body makes raising children more enjoyable and those post-workout endorphins are amazing).
Have some fun (have sex).
Be aware that every thought, word and action you manifest creates a feeling and a reaction, which influences what happens next in your life. Feelings of lack, anxiety and fear produce negative outcomes, which are joyless, frustrating and obstructive. Feelings of abundance, gratitude, love and trust produce amazing outcomes, which are joyful, easy and incredibly productive. We alone have the power to choose which feelings we engage with. How are you feeling right now? If you’re rooted in lack and fear, how could you change your thinking to become grateful and peaceful? Maybe your baby’s thrown you a curveball – not sleeping, feeding or is unsettled – and you’re out of your depth with the fear building. If you accept the circumstances willingly, see it as part of your journey and choose to trust that it will be ok, do you feel calmer? You’ll attract more and more of whatever you’re creating so be conscious of the thoughts you’re thinking and the energy you’re emitting; be open and willing not closed and resistant.
The responsibility of raising another human is huge. It doesn’t diminish when another phase passes, so we have to find a way to do it peacefully. Acknowledging that we never own our children, their choices or their futures, that we’re here to support them as their temporary guardians and that we aren’t ultimately responsible for anyone’s happiness but our own, suddenly dissolves the burden we can feel as mothers, whilst leaving time to carry on raising ourselves.
Amy Ransom is a mum of three and author of the Notebooks For Mum series, including bestseller, The New Mum’s Notebook, a reassuring companion to the first year of motherhood and the newly released organiser for the first year at primary school, The School Mum’s Notebook. All available from notebooksformums.co.uk.