Why Self-Care is Important for First Time MamaBears
One of the steps of CPR is making sure the scene around you is safe. Why does safety matter when there is a literal life or death situation taking place in front of you? Because, if you were to get electrocuted from the victim who is submerged is water with a live wire touching that same water, you will be no use to helping anyone.
The same goes for your family. While you may not be dealing with life or death situation (though dealing with being late, another blow out diaper, and the fact that you still need to get the dogs into their kennel so you can finally leave the house can feel like an emergency), you are dealing with providing life to others around you.
What is Self-Care?
These two simple words seem like they would be self explanatory. And to a point it is; self-care is taking care of yourself. But it is also more than that. Self-care has many definitions, but when it comes down to it, it’s anything we do with intention to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Another way to look at it is being as kind to yourself as you are to other people. I grew up with the idea of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It was something that was drilled into our heads as kids, but there’s a downside to that. You become so focused on treating everyone else with the utmost respect and care, and in turn sacrifice our needs.
But this is something we need to change out thinking around. In order to be the best for others, we need to overwrite this Golden Rule, and learn to practice that care and respect for ourselves.
What Self-Care ISN’T?
Making yourself a priority is not selfish or a negative thing. Somewhere along the line, this is something we have come to believe. Why we think this is a completely different topic, but fact is, it is a caring act. Taking care of yourself makes you more available and loving for other around you.
Self-care is not something that you have to force yourself to do or something that drains you. “Self-care is something that refuels us, rather than takes from us” as stated by Agnes Wainman. Lastly, self-care is not the same for everyone. Self-care is a personal act that needs to be customized to you. How you experience it isn’t right or wrong and won’t be the same as it will be for someone else.
7 Reasons Why Self-Care is Important
1 Self-Care Decreases Resentment
Resentment is a harsh word, with a seemingly even harsher definition. It is “bitter indignation of having been treated unfairly.” This isn’t simply disliking your partner, but much deeper. Having resentment towards your partner is a strong feeling that is related to the repetition of painful patterns related to unaddressed difficulties.
When you have a new life in the house, trying to rearrange your roles and expectations, this is a breeding ground for resentment. A lot of that resentment comes from unaddressed or ignored needs. When you take the time to make your needs a priority, you provide less “fertilizer” for the resentment plant.
One area that I feel resentment is that my husband gets to take showers, gets to get ready without having to carry our baby. It’s a small area of importance but its still important. The resentment is deeper than just a shower; but it is the basis of me not getting to have time to myself and he often gets to have time to himself. It’s as though I am expected to not get to have the privacy of a shower, and he gets to because it’s a set expectation.
While self-care won’t solve all resentment, it can help decrease it. In this case, I can practice self-care by planning out when I will take a shower so that I do get alone time, rather than hoping that he’ll volunteer to help out. I can, and should, verbalize “Ryan, when you come home from work, or in the morning before you leave, I need to have time alone in the shower while you keep an eye on Carter.”
They always say communication is key. It can be hard to communicate our needs, but that needs to be an area of self-care we practice as well.
2 Self-Care is Mentally Recharging
From the many things we are responsible for, it is easy to become mentally exhausted. I think of it as a cell phone with a battery draining quickly because of the thirty or so background apps running.
While we are doing one task, we likely have 20 steps that go into just completing that task alone. And then add in the sixty other tasks we have to keep in mind and think about. All of this can be draining, and we are in need of recharging. Practicing self-care can give you that time out to recover.
3 Self-Care Helps You Care For Your Family Better
It is often said and a known fact; you cannot pour from an empty cup. We know what it means; you cannot give more than you have. Taking the time to restore your needs provides you with the energy and desire to give to those around you. While running on fumes is possible, you are much more efficient when you are able to run on a full tank.
I find I am much more patient an giving when I have had a chance to meet my needs. Those needs range from basic necessities such as having a chance to go pee or eat something other than an old bag of trail mix that has been forgotten about in the back of the cabinet, all the way up to having the chance to spend time shooting and editing photographs. When I am able to nurture my soul, I am much more relaxed in taking care of the needs to Ryan and Carter. I also find I am more patient when I have to do a chore for the millionth time.
4 Self-Care Helps You with Maintaining Your Identity
Something interesting about growing up in the military was the traveling; getting to see all types of people. I recall being aware of the different way mothers mothered their children. As a child, I often compared how other mothers acted compared to my mother.
One type that I saw a lot of was the mom who talked about how much they hated their husbands, were severely wrapped up in their kids lives, and didn’t know who they were outside of family and kids. Then there was my mom; she always had a new adventure going on, she took time for herself as well as taking care of us, she was happy, and a strong role model in self-confidence and going after your goals.
I’m certain she wasn’t perfect and had some conversations about something that my dad was doing to drive her nuts, but my point is she never lost herself in raising 5 kids. Doing things that lift your spirit and feed your soul keeps you from losing your identity in the midst of this mania called Motherhood.
5 Helps with Postpartum Blues
Postpartum blues are sadness, crying, moodiness, crankiness, trouble sleeping, trouble eating, trouble making decisions, feeling overwhelmed, and/or feelings of not being able to do a good job taking care of your baby that last 2-3 days after birth and up to 2 weeks postpartum. (If these symptoms last longer than 2 weeks, do not hesitate to contact your doctor)
Though these feelings are normal and tend to go away on their own without treatment, there are things that you and your partner can do to help decrease the intensity of these feelings.
Practicing self-care can help with working through postpartum blues. There are several methods of self-care you can practice during this time. I will be writing a post speaking directly to this. Practicing care for yourself can help with working through these feelings. Also, practicing self-care early on can help you establish a routine that is easier to stick to. As a result, the feelings of being overwhelmed can decrease and being much more manageable.
Some quick tips include asking your partner for help, asking family, friends, or neighbors to watch your little BabyCub while you take some time to yourself, or spending time with your friends who are experiencing the same dramatic change of taking care of a new life.
6 You’ll Be More Patient with Your BabyCub
It’s difficult to be at peace when you are tense. I had a two week period where I was unable to do my usual practices. During that time , I noticed a big difference in my behavior and feelings. I was certainly more tense. Also, I began hyper-focusing on things that were not important or things that were out of my control. And I did notice that my usual calm demeanor with Carter started to get a bit more anxious and antsy.
He’s been having problems with spitting up for many weeks. Despite having this being something we’ve been dealing with for a while, this time when he spit up for the fourth time in one hour; requiring a third outfit change, I felt myself rising with irritation. That irritation started me down the common rabbit hole of complaints that ended with somehow being mad at Ryan about the laundry.
I’m not even going to dare to say that self-care cures all irritation or frustration to your BabyCub or husband. You’ll never hear me say that self-care will make you the happiest MamaBear in the world. But from my experience I can say diligently practicing self-care decreases the time it takes to ventures down that anger rabbit hole. It decreases the intensity of irritation, frustration, and the feelings of being taken for granted. That alone is worth taking the time out for myself.
7 Makes Room for a Healthier You
When you set the time that you are labeling as YOU time, you are making room and space for a healthier you. (That sentence has 5 ‘you’s in it; that’s how important YOU are). A healthier you isn’t just about how your look or your weight or ‘getting your body back.
SIDE RANT: You’ll see me say it time and time again, my BODY never went anywhere!
A healthier you is a well rounded focus. It includes what I consider 9 areas of health: physical, mental, emotional, financial, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, occupational, and social.
Yes, spending the time to breath, shower, give yourself a face mask, curl up and read a book, and even exercise can help impact all your areas of health. If your activity of choice doesn’t directly effect it i.e. spending time at the gym directly effects your physical health, your activity can have a secondary effect.
When I spend the time to write, working on my emotional health, it brings my spirit at ease and opens me up to more positive things, which in turn effects my spiritual health.
Or when I make boundaries in my occupation, I in turn enrich my emotional health by enhancing feelings of self worth.
So, without guilt, enjoy that cup of coffee while reading that new book by Gary John Bishop: you are having a more profound effect than you realize.
Wrap It Up
To conclude, you can see how self-care has a bigger role in your new role as MamaBear. It not only brings you some sanity in this crazy new full-time job, but helps in the relationships you have with your partner and your BabyCub. Was there anything surprising about this? is there anything you would add to why self-care is important to you? Tell me your thoughts.
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About the Author/Jenell Pickering
As a 4-year Psychiatric RN, Jenell cares for people struggling with eating disorders; helping them bring health and balance back into their lives. As a first time MamaBear, she is figuring out a healthy balance in caring for herself, her husband Ryan, and their BabyCub Carter. As a blogger, her goal is to deliver advice, tips, and personal stories to other first time MamaBears on how to maintain health and balance for their families and, most importantly, themselves.