Self-care. I didn’t even know such a word existed until I became a mom.
2017 was a life-changing year for me: Chris and I bought a house, but more importantly, we became parents. These two life-events are so exciting and we are so grateful we’ve been able to experience both. But 2017 was also a really hard year. Anyone who is a parent will tell you that the first year of parenthood is probably one of the hardest, but throw in the house-buying process, coordinating a move with a 5-month-old, and a whole bunch of extra monthly expenses? Yeah, 2017 was a little stressful to say the least.
The hardest lesson I’ve learned this year is how to take care of myself and make myself a priority in addition to taking care of others, my son especially. For the first 6-8 months of Aidan’s life, everything was all about him. All of my free time was spent researching infant development, making homemade baby food, washing his clothes, sanitizing his bottles/toys, emailing his pediatrician, pumping breast milk, cleaning his humidifier, filling out daycare forms, etc. When I wasn’t doing something for Aidan, I was doing something for our household, like budgeting our house expenses, running errands, meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking dinner, doing laundry, etc. My mentality was, “When everyone and everything else is taken care of, THEN I’ll take care of my own needs.”
Well, guess what? That magical time to take care of my own needs? It never came, because the needs of my son and my household are never-ending. Most of the stuff I listed above has to be done on a weekly basis. Oh, and did I mention I work full-time, too? Having a full-time job, managing a household, and taking care of baby is a lot to juggle, especially when I was not asking for help nor making time to recharge my batteries once in a while.
I hate to admit this, but as a result, I was kind of depressed. I was already tired from dealing with a baby who wasn’t sleeping through the night, but I was tired from constantly trying to do everything myself. I LOOKED tired too; most days I barely had enough energy to simply put on some mascara. I was crying a lot and I missed having time for myself and my hobbies (hence the 2017 blogging hiatus). I think my breaking point was one night in July: I was sitting on my bed, crying, and thinking, “This isn’t me. Before I became a mom, I was a happy, healthy person with interests and goals. I need to find that person again and figure out how to make that life coexist with my new life as a mom.”
Six months have passed since I had that realization and I’ve made some slow but steady progress. I bought myself some new clothes that fit my postpartum, nursing body and made me feel good. I attended a few workout classes geared towards moms and experienced endorphins for the first time since pregnancy. I deemed Friday nights my Self-care Night when I don’t cook, clean, wash bottles, etc; instead, I’m only allowed to do relaxing activities, like watch Netflix or read a book.
I’ve made some good progress on implementing more self-care in my life these last few months, but in 2018 I want to make even better progress, and I have a lot of ideas on how I want to do so:
- First and foremost, focus on my health. I’ve let stress and emotional eating get the best of me this year, which has made it hard to lose the rest of the baby weight. I want to clean up my diet and start exercising a minimum of 3x a week whether that’s an intense HIIT workout or walking on the treadmill. I used to be a runner, so I’d like to run another half-marathon this year. To start small, I’m signed up to run a 10K in March. I hope to start my half-marathon training in the summer once I’m completely done breastfeeding. I’m also looking into buying a jogging stroller so I can take Aidan with me on some of my shorter runs.
- I want to focus on my career. I really put my career on the backburner once I got pregnant, but now that Aidan is almost a year old, I’m ready to start focusing on my professional development again. I’m signed up for a one-day professional development conference in March and I can’t wait!
- Every three months or so, I want to make an appointment for some pampering like a haircut, facial, massage, or pedicure. I got a facial over the weekend and it was heavenly.
- In addition to working out/running, I want to make time for other hobbies I enjoyed before I became a mom, like yoga and blogging. I went wine-tasting with some friends a few weekends ago for the first time since I got pregnant and I had a blast!
These are some lofty goals, especially since I don’t have nearly as much free-time (or money) as I used to. But like anything in life, if you want to make something a priority, you have to MAKE the time for it. Finally, when I make time for the above goals, I don’t want to let myself feel selfish or guilty for doing so. I need to remember that when I take time for myself, I come back rejuvenated, and as a result, I am more the wife and mother I want to be. As this article so perfectly states: self-care if not selfish; it’s one of the best things you can do for your kids.
2017 was the year I let myself become completely consumed by motherhood. As a first-time mom, I think that can be normal. For those of us that are perfectionists and have a fear of being judged (i.e. most women), we just want to prove we are good moms and not inadequate. But one of the most important lessons I’ve learned about motherhood is you cannot pour from an empty cup. You need to fill your cup before you can fill others’, and in 2018, I plan to fill my cup to the brim.
How was your 2017? What is your theme/goal/resolution for 2018?