Seven months ago, I became a mother for the first time. It is the ultimate blessing and the most awe-inspiring experience I have had. There are so many emotions involved, and navigating the waves and waters of motherhood provides lessons galore that will surely keep coming as time goes by. I have come to find that being a mom looks different to all of us. It’s unpredictable and can be accompanied by challenge or discomfort, but most importantly, it can coexist right alongside deep joy, love, presence, and connection. You may experience all the feelings at the same time, and that is OK!
I have learned that a couple things are a must in order to maintain your sense of self and your sanity. Here are three things to be mindful of that you can start with:
1. Practice good time management skills, so that you can prioritize and carve out some time for yourself.
2. Self-care means having non-negotiables.
3. Learning to find balance is essential.
Leaning to prioritize after having a baby is key. There is so little time we get for ourselves, even if we have help.
For some people, prioritizing tasks does not come easy. They see everything as equally important and find it hard to assign a level of urgency to each item on their to-do list. This is the time management equivalent of those people who struggle to block out certain sounds in a crowded restaurant and just hear all noise as equally demanding on their ears.
I often suggest making a list of must-dos for the day, along with a list of nice-to-dos. Breaking your day down into what absolutely must be accomplished versus what you would like to accomplish is a good way to simplify and prioritize. Your must-do list might look like, “Take a shower. Exercise. Show up to work. Read to the baby. Take dog out. Eat.” And your nice-to-do list might say, “Get your nails done. Read. Take a bath. Get a massage. Call so-and-so. Watch a movie.”
Everyone is wired differently, but many studies have shown that our energy in the morning is our “peak energy.” As the day progresses, we grow less focused and less creative. It’s always best to place your most important and creative tasks in the early hours when you are most alert and engaged and when you feel more motivated. But if you can get things done in the evening and feel more energized, by all means get your to-dos done then!
Self-care is my favorite subject for discussion. It’s what my whole book, The Rewired Life, is about. Being a new mom and being mindful of self-care is so challenging because our little babes require so much of our time and energy. But our saving grace is having non-negotiables.
Non-negotiables are the things, hobbies, and acts of service that we can do for ourselves that remind us of who we are. They are what feels good to us and what brings us happiness and peace of mind. It’s just like the non-negotiable of brushing our teeth every day—we don’t really consider skipping it. My non-negotiables are movement daily, eating healthy, sleeping (when I can, considering I have an infant), and cooking as much as I can. These are the things that bring me a sense of well-being.
We all need to be aware of how self-care is much more than exercise and eating right. It’s sleeping adequately, making sure our mental health is intact, tending to our emotional well-being, and feeling like we are growing and connected spiritually to ourselves.
Various cultures, religions, and spiritual practices all seek to provide an answer to the question, “What is balance?” Balance means learning to give and receive in equal measure. Many healing practitioners believe that imbalance is the root of suffering and disease, and that all things are connected. We cannot be spiritually sick without seeing effects in our bodies and minds. Conversely, if we are physically ill, we will feel it mentally and emotionally as well.
We have to find what balance means to each of us individually. We need to make time for sleep, work, play, love, hobbies, travel, nature, and connecting with our deepest selves on a daily basis. What “balance” means to us will change from one day to the next, yet we can always strive to stay attuned to our inner voice that will tell us when we are shifting out of sync. As mothers, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we will not be as present for others and for our children.
I found out four months ago that I am pregnant, AGAIN! The scales of balance have shifted in my life, reinforcing my non-negotiables. Self-care is going in full swing, and every day I am trying to maintain balance when I can. Having two babies a year apart will require even more of me.
We could not be more grateful that we are welcoming this little girl into this world and will figure it out as it unfolds, feeling confident that with these things in place, it will be just fine.