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The paradox of motherhood: how to embrace self-care when you’re the caregiver


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In a world where us mamas tirelessly support and care for others, our own self-care often takes a back seat. On one hand we’re the world’s most attentive caregivers, doting on our little love’s every whim, day in and sometimes, day out. But there’s a paradox in this incredible change we find ourselves in: being excellent caregivers for everyone else but struggling to prioritise their own well-being. Self care becomes a challenge and, rather than being seen as the essential it is, it becomes something we feel guilty doing. But here’s the thing: just like going to work or working out, you can’t do it properly if you’re operating a fraction of your normal self.

Self care is important

Why Self-Care is Essential, Not Selfish

Self-care is crucial, especially for those who spend a significant portion of their lives looking after others. Women who look after themselves experience higher levels of happiness, lower stress, are more resilient when faced with challenges and enjoy better health. The not only benefit themselves but also set a positive example for those around them, fostering a culture of wellness within their communities.

“How can I give 100% to my baby when I’m functioning at 50%?”

Sarah, Melbourne
Self care important

Strategies for a Self-Nurturing Lifestyle

Integrating self-care into your routine can be challenging, particularly for us first time mamas. The trick is to commit to yourself first that you’re going to look after yourself. Then make a plan for how this looks in your lifestyle. Finally, work with your partner to get their support on your journey.

Here are some practical self-care strategies you can implement right away:

  1. Set boundaries: Say no more often. You don’t always have to be the one to pick up other people’s pieces. You don’t have to write back straight away. And you definitely don’t always have to be the one to organise everything. Start saying no and make it a habit.
  2. Go to bed early: Having a regular bedtime can make all the difference. If your babies wake up during the night, this time should be even earlier. Curl up with a book, put the phone away and enjoy a little me time.
  3. Treat self-care activities as non-negotiable appointments: Are you back at work? Block out an hour in your calendar. At home? Find some help for 1 hour and go and do something for you. Treat it like a dentist appointment you can’t miss.
  4. Practise mindfulness. It’s not for everyone but everyone can benefit. Start with 2 mins a day and try and get to 10. We love Insight Timer for free meditation tracks.
  5. Build a supportive community: Stay connected to mamas like you. Studies show we are more likely to keep up good habits if we hang out with people who exhibit those habits.
  6. Tell guilt where to go: You are an amazing mother. Taking some time out for you will directly and positively impact your family unit.
  7. Aim for as many wholefoods as possible: it’s easier said than done when you barely get time to eat but here’s a hack I learnt and love: keep a big bowl of chopped salad in the fridge you can scoop out for yourself on the go. Buy a bag of almonds to munch on. Swap a soda for a green juice.
  8. Stay hydrated: Especially if you’re breastfeeding. Not only will your mind benefit, but your skin and performance.
  9. Pick the things that give you joy: Is going to meet someone for coffee that always drains you a good idea? Or are you better off using that time to take your baby to the park alone for a picnic? Choose joy.
  10. Save up for a splurge. Studies show it’s not just the reward but the anticipation that gives us dopamine. Take a look at some outfits, get inspired and save up. When you’re ready, treat yourself and wait for the delivery!

Join the Journey of Self-Love

If you haven’t started, self-love and nurturing becomes now. It will emphasise the importance of making intentional efforts towards self-care and offer resources for those interested in deepening their practice. Whether it’s attending wellness retreats or incorporating daily acts of self-kindness, the path to self-nurturing is accessible to anyone willing to take the first step.

Hopefully this has given you the reason you need to pay more attention to yourself. By doing so, you’ll be better able to provide love and support to others without depleting your own energy. And this, dear mama, is the true spirit of sustainable caregiving.

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Style Editor. Minimalist mama writing about capsule wardrobes. Inspired by French women yet also unafraid to leave the house with food on me.