Serving From A Full Cup
By Kristina Burks Halliday, LCSW and Birth Roots Board Member
Early pregnancy to early parenthood is a period in which we often become so externally focused. Our love, sleep, time, attention and dedication is honed on either the little person growing within or parenting our child(ren). It is a time of tremendous transition and one in which we birth not only a person, but a new identity as parent.
The depth of emotion that comes with this period can be all-consuming in its beauty and difficulty, and it is a common experience to feel that one has lost themselves in the process. When your life becomes about the needs of another, no matter how honored or grateful you are to be in that role, it is easy for your own needs to be shuffled to the end of the list. This coupled with the ever-shrinking commodities of time and sleep frequently results in parents feeling worn out, burnt out and unable to access resources that refuel and replenish.
However, caring for yourself and caring for your child are not mutually exclusive. Taking the time to observe how you are doing, reflect on what you need and taking small, achievable steps to meet those needs can help you feel like a more present parent and allows you to “serve others from the overflow” of your vessel. Self-care is not about churning out 50 Pinterest-worthy muffins for your parent meetup or presenting yourself in a ‘have-it-all-together’ way to the world. It is about honoring your needs as valid, and viewing yourself as worthy and deserving of having those needs met.
Self-care is incorporating time and attention to your emotional, physical, spiritual and mental needs into your daily life. In early parenthood, particularly, sometimes this is about the most basic of check-ins with yourself. Did I eat breakfast? Can I find time to take a shower today? Did I remember my water bottle? In other scenarios this is about honestly asking for and accepting help-I need an hour of sleep, I could use some company, I would love it if you could pick up something for dinner. Self-care is also about the way we talk to ourselves. Is that voice in your head harsh, judgmental, or filled with “shoulds?” Take a moment to notice this, and envision that you are actually speaking to your best friend. Offer yourself the same kindness and compassion that you would share with your children or others.
Maybe one or two of these self-care tips will find their way into your day:
- Check in with yourself a few times a day. How are you feeling? What do you need?
- Practice compassion in the way you speak to yourself.
- Remember to acknowledge any positive steps you do take. Did you step outside for three deep breaths? Take an extra moment to pack a snack for yourself as well as the kids? Notice it and celebrate it!
- Schedule positive events and honor them as important. Write down “take a walk this morning” “pack a treat to enjoy at my desk” or “ask a friend for an hour’s time so I can go to yoga” and then treat them with the same importance that you would place on a dentist or doctor’s appointment.
- Unwind. Just be. Value rest the same way you value productivity. One results in the other.
- Make a list of things you admire about yourself, accomplishments you are proud of and difficulties you have overcome. Take a moment each morning to review to help you remember that YOU are important and YOU are valuable.
- Find a community that supports and celebrates you….maybe at Birth Roots?!
- Try one of these short refueling meditations.
Birth Roots provides a community space where new families come together to build connections, share diverse ideas, and strengthen their parenting muscles so that we move together toward a thriving, family-centered society.