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Pure Self Care: Looking After Parents

8 min read | 20 September 2020

In this week’s episode of Pure Parenthood, we speak to Sally Wood, founder of The Mindful Mum. Sally explains the importance of self-care for parents, and 5 ways to nurture yourself.


Listen to episode seven above or on Apple Podcasts or Spotify​.

Self-care is such a buzz word these days. While it’s great to see a growing movement for it, the concept still remains a little fluffy and the practice can be elusive, particularly for new parents. It has a tendency to get confused with time-consuming experiences like an immersive retreat, or expensive commercial pampering, massages and the like. While these activities fall into the category of self-care, true self-care goes a whole lot deeper than that.

So, what exactly is self-care?

Simply put, self-care is health care. As Psychologist, Suzy Reading, at The Mindful Mum, shares “It’s nourishment for the head, the heart and the body”. Suzy also makes another key distinction that not only is it “nourishing our present selves and our needs in the moment, but also our future selves and the person we’re hoping to become”.

From that perspective, you can see how having friends around soon after having a baby can be exciting, but if it means you’re overextending yourself by having the house clean and catering to them, that activity may actually be more depleting rather than nourishing. So, sometimes true self-care is having the discipline to say no, even when it’s uncomfortable. It’s about cultivating that awareness around what genuinely nourishes you, what depletes you, and also realising that your needs are going to change day-to-day depending on how you’re feeling mentally, emotionally and physically.

Why is it so important for new parents to engage in self-care?

The fact is, in this modern world of parenting, it’s really hard to avoid stress. It’s an inevitable part of life and one could even argue a certain amount of it could even be good for us. But, the nature of stress is that it accumulates, where we can find ourselves being reactive and showing up in ways we don’t want to. We also know prolonged periods of stress are not good for our health which is precisely why we can’t afford to be complacent about it.

So, this is really where self-care comes in, because it’s the thing that can help us cope with the inevitable stresses of life. When we regularly engage in self-care, when we’ve taken care of our head, heart, and our body, we’re able to access the best version of ourselves. We’re more compassionate with others, but also to ourselves. We’re generally happier, more energised and at ease.

How can busy parents make the time for self-care?

Here’s the great news. True self-care doesn’t need to take up a lot of time! A little bit often is far more effective than a lot seldom. As parents, we don’t usually get huge pockets of alone time, so instead of waiting for the perfect time to fill your cup, try and weave micro-moments of self-care into your day and keep that energetic bank balance topped up.

Here are 5 ways to get started:

  1. When you’re changing your little one, use it as a CUE to do

    three slow shoulder rolls

    and encourage a more

    open-hearted posture

    .

  2. During naptime, try and resist the urge to rush into doing “ALL. the. things” and

    give yourself permission to pause

    , even if it’s just for 5 minutes. We often hear “sleep when the baby sleeps” and as much as that would be wonderful, new parents can struggle with it as there’s usually a lot to do! This is where a

    meditation

    or

    yoga nidra practice

    can be really beneficial as you can boost your energy levels in a short space of time.

  3. For those days when you’re

    really

    exhausted, you could simply

    lie with your legs up the wall

    - a practice that’s well known for its relaxation and energy-boosting benefits.

  4. Be aware of the tendency to automatically reach for the phone and scroll through social media the whole time you’re feeding your baby. Remember the mantra

    “disconnect to reconnect”

    and pass the time with some mindful breathing exercises instead.

  5. Bring a level of intention to our day.

    When you roll out of bed for the first time in the morning, instead of latching on to some of the more negative thoughts that our mind tends to wander to, think to yourself, or better yet, write down how you want to feel. When we can

    connect with a positive emotion

    such as

    ease

    ,

    joy

    or

    calm,

    we’re more likely to tune our awareness and align our actions up to that feeling.

Finally, remember all of these practices are skills that need to be cultivated, but over time, they’ll become automatic. It’s a case of training your brain to notice what you’re needing in the moment and doing your best to follow through then and there with a small and nourishing act of self-care.

There are so many ways to fill your cup as a mum, so if you’re short on ideas or motivation, you can download The Mindful Mum’s self-care planner for more inspiration.

If you’re looking for more support, please head over to https://www.themindfulmum.com - they have so many amazing online classes and resources to help make the journey of motherhood easier and more fun! Use code: PUREBABY for $10 off your monthly subscription.

Download the episode transcript here

This article was written by Sally Wood from The Mindful Mum, in conjunction with episode 7 of Purebaby’s podcast, Pure Parenthood.

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