The baby you have always dreamed of is here! They are precious, tiny, and completely dependent on you! You cherish the opportunity to nourish them, teach them, and wait for the day when they begin to interact with you by smiling at you, making and keeping eye contact, your first shared laugh together…all of these moments are priceless.
Then something occurs to us - "when" is a matter of time. They are here with you forever. You will never go back to your life before baby. Your time is not going to be “yours” again for a pretty long time.
How we come to terms with this reality is completely up to us. Whether we stay home with them or work outside of the home, we will find a strange dichotomy of wanting to be with our children and sometimes wanting to be away from them, too. Add to that a partner who also needs time and attention to keep your relationship as healthy as possible. What to do?
Having worked both in and out of the home, I found that I was at my best as a wife and mother when I took care of myself. Here are some questions that I asked myself to make sure I was on track so that I could take care of others (and it's about time for another self-assesment!). Along with checking in with myself every so often, I use Lotus Wei Flower Essences and indulge in Wei of Chocolate flower-essence infused chocolates to tide me over until my next opportunity to re-charge my own battery.
What makes me feel happy?
The world of advertising and mainstream media wants us to believe we need things to make us happy. You may have discovered that happiness brought by “things” is fleeting. I believe that lasting happiness is self-driven: it is internal and it can be persistent if we can convince ourselves to find joy and gratitude on a regular basis. In my experience, joy and gratitude are easier to bask in when we are feeding our souls – think back to the things that brought us joy as children before “reality” set in – can you do those things and involve your child? Is it a good book? A conversation with a friend? Deep breathes of fresh air? A form of exercise you enjoy? A hobby we enjoyed before we had children? What do we do that brings a smile to our face?
When you can identify those things and then work them into your days often enough to make a difference, then we can start to make joy internal. If you are counting on things or people to make you happy, it is going to be a pretty bumpy ride. When you make your own happiness, it is more likely to be smooth sailing.
What do we do to “plug-in” and get more “juice” for the rest of the day-week-month-year?
The easiest way to gather energy as a new mama is to heed the advice to “sleep when the baby is sleeping”. For some of us, that is harder than others. I found that by putting a timeline (I will do this for this week) or area (keep this one room tidy), it was easier for me to let go and get the rest I needed in the postpartum period. As the kiddos get older, I am claiming some time outside of my busy-ness attending meetings. It can be as simple as making sure they are cared for so that I can take an uninterrupted shower complete with a full skin-care routine. On the days when it can be arranged, a kiddo-free lunch with a friend or colleague. I think it is important for every parent to identify some “battery charging” ideas and then find ways to make them happen more than once a year.
Where is my ‘haven of rest”?
We need to remember the lessons we teach on physical-mental-emotional relaxation in our Bradley Method® classes. Our energy is fatigable. We need to find a place to let go of our stressors so that we can have calm around our children and our partners. Can we find time to do relaxation exercises during the day? Can we teach our children to do them with us so that we can all let go and draw new energy together? Are massages or chiropractic care an option to let go of the tightness and subluxations in our body an option? Is there a space that we enjoy, and can we get there often enough to make a difference? If these idea are not realistic, can we create a “safe” place in our home, where we can go and recharge at least once a week?
What do my partner and I need to do to connect?
One of the books that served me well when I was managing people has also been a great insight into the love relationship with my husband. It is the The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/). I encourage you to pick up a copy – you can find it in the library, a used bookstore, or buy it new – if you can find a way, read it. If you don’t find it a profound revelation like I did, hopefully it will start you down a path of ideas to connect with your loved one.
In the meantime, I will offer this tidbit from a wise old friend who said that the secret of his long love relationship with his wife was a weekly date night. Every Friday night, rain or shine, whether he had been in town for the week or just returning from a business trip, he took his wife out for a night of dinner and dancing. He believed his weekly check-in is what kept them happily married for all their years together.
Another idea is to think back to the things you did together when you felt the most connected: hiking? Traveling? A shared hobby? Are any of those possible with your baby? If not, is there something you can talk about and find to do together as a family? How about setting a goal to find a trusted care provider so you can do a “stay-cation” in your home town if going away for the weekend is too daunting at this point? With a stay-cation, you can have some time just the two of you while still being within reach if your care arrangements do not work out as expected.
In closing, I am going to offer this quote from an article I read this month. While this was speaking about a parent-child relationship, I believe the same is true for all relationships we want to cultivate in our lives:
Take care of yourself so you can be the best you can be. When your mothering requires you to give up time, make sacrifices, work hard and keep the inconvenient hours of parenting, you can do so with a smile in your heart and a joy that you can pass along to your family.
What do you do to “take care of you”?
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The Five Love Languages
Our interview with founder, Katie Hess:
Wei of Chocolate
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It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.