Valentine’s Day may be designed to celebrate couples and romantic relationships, but didn’t one Carrie Bradshaw once remind us that the most important relationship we can have, is the one we have with ourselves? Of course, she gave this advice as a woman who didn’t have children and while the sentiment is both wise and true, self-love can be really hard to find time for when you’re a parent.
We believe that February 14 should be a day for celebrating all kinds of love – especially self-love! This, of course, starts with self-care. We know that lack of adequate care and “you time” can lead to feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and irritable. It can also lead to complications such as postpartum depression and anxiety or just generally feeling burnt out. Not only that, but our children grow up to mimic the things we do so the best way we can start to teach them about self-love is to practice it ourselves.
We’ve got some simple ways to pamper yourself as a new parent, so this Valentine’s Day you can spend some time recognising and re-charging the amazing human that is you!
It is well-known that exercise has a wide range of positive effects, including the production of endorphins, mental clarity, improved cardiovascular health, lowered cholesterol, and stress reduction. Try to get some exercise every day, even if you can just find a few minutes, whether it’s a fast yoga session or a brisk walk. You’ll feel the benefits in your body and mind.
Eat nutritious food
It’s common to reach for food that is quick, simple, or simply…there during the first few weeks of that newborn haze – even if it’s not particularly nourishing. To ensure that you have the energy needed to handle the incredible amount of multitasking required when you have a child, a balanced diet is crucial. Additionally, a healthy diet is essential because more and more research is establishing a link between physical and mental health issues. What better reason than that to reach for the kale instead of the corn chips?
Sleep as often as you can
You may have just laughed out loud at this one, and fair enough. The idea of getting sleep when you have an infant can be a totally foreign concept but it’s also a very important one.
If you are able to sleep when the baby sleeps, great! If not, can you call upon family, friends or your partner to hold down the fort while you get some much-needed and much-deserved shut-eye? If you can find blocks of time here and there to try to rest, it can make a massive difference to your confidence as a parent and your overall mood.
Make time for yourself
It’s no secret that kids are time-consuming and that having them can seriously impact our ability to find the time to do the other things we enjoy.
This is, once again, where calling on friends, family or your partner can be of benefit if you can. Work with your support network to figure out how you can grab some time here and there to read a book, meditate, get a manicure or whatever you enjoyed doing pre-baby. You’ll be amazed at how something you once took for granted now feels like the most luxurious thing in the world and, therefore, how much more you appreciate it.
Scrap the screens
Social media can be a new parent’s best friend or worst enemy. On one hand, you can instantly find and connect with other people who may be going through the same things you are. On the other hand, you can find people with very strong opinions about what you should and should not be doing which can lead to anxiety and self-doubt – especially when you’re sleep deprived.
While it is normal to use your phone to study common parenting issues and locate resources, you should be conscious of how social media and other people’s perspectives are affecting you. It might be time for a digital detox if you start to feel like it’s dragging you down or hindering you more than helping.
Find a ritual
Time becomes more precious than ever when you become a parent and, naturally, pretty much all of it is dedicated to your child. Finding just one little thing that you can do for yourself every day can become a form of self-care, in turn, can make you feel a bit more “you”.
It could be jotting down one thing you feel grateful for each day, throwing on some mascara, doing a two-minute stretch in the morning, or something else entirely. Whatever is it, performing this mini-ritual each day can truly make a world of difference.
Without community, parenting can feel completely overwhelming. This is why (and sorry to harp on about it!) it’s so important to have people you can count on for help when you need it.
Do not be afraid or ashamed to ask for help from family and friends if it is available to you. Sometimes raising a child is a multi-person job so if you have people in your life who are willing to help, call on them.
Alternatively, if you are feeling really overwhelmed and are having more bad days than good, it is important to speak to your doctor in order to determine if you would benefit from seeking therapy or starting medication.
Just remember, it’s so important to self-care for yourself as a new parent. Raising tiny humans is intense (and rewarding) but by making sure we are taking the time to love on ourselves, we can be better equipped to love on our kids too. Happy Love Day!