Nurturing and self care, do they mean the same thing to you? Most of us women define the word Nurture as caring for someone else. As a pregnant woman, it is easy to daydream about nurturing and cuddling your soon to be newborn baby. You may have some worries about labor or how you will be as a parent, but one thing most pregnant women never stress out about is whether they will love, cherish, and want to give and sacrifice for their baby. Heck, pregnancy is the ultimate sacrifice, of our body. I may never replenish the calcium taken from my bones for my daughter while in utero. If you decide to breast feed you will know that the sacrifice of the body of the mother continues in the making and giving of breast milk. I can go on and on.
For those of us that are no longer pregnant, we know that nurturing through feeding, bathing, hugging, reading to, playing with, driving to and fro for, transitioning to bedtime, struggling thru naps….well all of that just comes with the territory. That type of sacrificing of our time and money, it goes hand-in-hand with being a parent. It is like breathing, for most of us. I mean, we don’t ponder if we are going to nurture and love our baby, our child, our adolescent. We just do. Some days we may have more time than others, other days our attitude may be better, but we do it, pretty much naturally, instinctively.
Now take a deep breath. I’m about to turn the tables on this discussion. How do you define self care? Do you dare include nurture in that definition? If you are now a mom caring for a baby or child, do you do it? Yes, I mean to yourself. Do you take time out for yourself, every day? Yes, I said every day. Hello? Are you still there?
For the first-time pregnant beauties reading this, you may scoff and think, “I will never not take time for myself!” The thought of not getting your bi-weekly mani/pedi, or your quarterly spa day or facial, how about that 3 x’s/week yoga class? Or your daily evening hike with your pet dog? Dare I question your ability to have your movie date night and dinner with your hubby or S.O. every Saturday night? These are facts of your adult “free-from-having-a-baby-or-young-child” reality. It is a reality that is about to change, literally overnight.
I in no way wish to stress anyone out by that paragraph. Not at all. I said your life changes, not that all fun goes away. At least self time fun doesn’t have to go away, but post baby you will actually have to plan it. You will also need to prioritize and negotiate with your partner. Because, unless you have unlimited wealth, you won’t be able to just hire a baby sitter or have a live-in nanny take care of the baby or your children everytime you want to go indulge in some self care. It will take some creativity to re-define what self care can mean (it can be way smaller and not as extravagent than the word implies). And your mate will need to support you doing this, and then you will need to do vice versa. That means each of you taking turns sometimes with Junior while the other has some free time. Our motto is to do it EVERYDAY. PAM Co-Founder, Anna Getty, very carefully chose our 4th Initiative during Pregnancy Awareness Month to be “Nurture”, as in self care. We focus the entire last week of May on this topic. It is to remind us that we can and need to make time for nurturing ourselves. Now this can take many forms. It can be something small or something more extravagant. But the point here is you need to do it, this is crucial for your ability to parent, to love your partner, and to be happy in life.
- Have a cup of tea in the middle of your day, sit down and look out the window while sipping slowly
- Take 10 minutes to call a girlfriend and just chat it up, laugh, be silly
- Take the dog for a walk, alone, without your cell phone, look at some trees, smell the roses
- Find time to exercise – work that out with your partner, pre-planning is necessary
- Create a meal night with friends, a progressive dinner, like a pot luck, this can include the babies or kids, but laughter and joy is a MUST ingredient
- Meditate, start with 3 part breath for 5 minutes once a day (in breath for 3 counts, hold for 3 counts, out breath for 3 counts)
- Netflix a movie with your partner to watch after the baby or children are asleep (or put in the earphones and watch it on your own)
- Agree with your mate which morning you are allowed to sleep in for an extra 30 minutes – and relish in it!
- Hire a sitter for 1 night a week for either a date night or a yoga night, but a time for you and or your S.O., sans baby (or if grandparents or auntie & uncle live close by, by all means, negotiate a weekly or bi-weekly deal so that you have some alone time with your lover!)
- Get that Mani/Pedi! Maybe not twice a month, but schedule it for once a month
Ideas are welcome – please share in a comment!
Alisa Donner, MSW, LCSW, Mom, and Co-Founder of Pregnancy Awareness Month