When you have a young child who isn’t sleeping well, it’s no surprise home life can become frantic and stressful. It’s a great part of what I do in working with families, to explore all parts of what might be going on for your little one. To look at their health, diet, sleep environment and routine and to find ways to gently move forward with age-appropriate sleep strategies.
But what about you; mums, dads and other caregivers that are exhausted and struggling to make these changes. It can feel really hard. Our own self-care is such an important part of life, for us all, yet with a baby or toddler too, it can often feel as though your own needs are neglected. I want to help you find some time for you. That’s why I’ve written this post bursting with inspiring self-care tools; apps that work, free resources and easy steps to help yourself manage the stresses and anxieties that being a new parent can bring (along with your gorgeous new bundle of joy!)
You could begin by considering organising a daily routine which helps create some time for you. Have a read of my post where I explain about the E.A.S.Y routine. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out for the support you need. Be it to your partner, a friend or family member. There’s also often local leisure and children’s centres in the UK that has activities on for parents with free or low-cost creches. Asking for some backup so you can make time for yourself shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be essential! I want to share these inspiring self-care tools with you so that you can bring into your life, things that can help nourish your body, mind and soul to help support you to be the best parent you can be.
Inspiring self-care tools
Breathing can do so much more than keeping you alive! Breathwork; simple, focused breathing exercises can help promote calm, reduce stress and anxiety, get to sleep and boost your energy levels.
Calm. Begin with empty lungs. Breathe into your belly through your nose for a count of five seconds. Hold your breath for a count of five. Exhale through your nose for a count of five. Hold your breath for a count of five. Repeat this set of four breathes for about three minutes or until you feel calm.
Increase energy. Take four powerful and sharp breathes quickly together, through your nose, without breathing out, until your lungs are full then breathe out through pursed lips strongly. Repeat for several minutes to feel more energised.
Get to sleep. The trick to this technique is to make your exhale breath longer than your inhale. Take a slow deep inhale for three seconds. Pay attention to your breath. Allow your body to relax and feel soft. Exhale for a count of four or more. Repeat this until you drift off.
Although there are many types of meditation such as transcendental, metta, progressive, mindfulness, zen, breath and kundalini yoga, ultimately, when getting started, there are two ways to begin. Either by using simply your own body, breath and mind to meditate in the ways I’ve mentioned or use guided meditations (they are abundant on youtube and google!) There’s no right or wrong but what feels right for you. I often mix up the ways I meditate depending on how I’m feeling, how much time I have and where I might be.
To help get you started, there’s a lot of free guides and support out there. Personally, I like Inner Space as it has free meditation courses you can have emailed to you as well as free sessions and workshops in London. Also, apps to try are:
Expectful (made especially for mums and mums to be)
Yoga and Pilates
Both brilliant for your mind, body and soul. Can help with your posture, core strength and breathing. Even with as little as 5 minutes a day of yoga poses and pilates movement, you can feel good. With a little one, you may find online classes that you can do at home to suit you are more convenient. Here are some great options:
With a philosophy that aims to help you ‘feel calmer. Believe in yourself. Sleep better’, Clementine is a super resource to give you a boost, calm you or motivate you – whatever you need!
Or perhaps you’d like the brilliant Nourish app which is designed by mums for mums, to help you on your self-care journey through motherhood.
You could try Happy Not Perfect too which offers a range of self-care tools such as meditations, a diary, challenges, workouts and games.
It can be really easy to overlook how getting outside, even if it’s for a small walk, can help boost your mood and energy levels, regulate your body clock and sleep better. And is great for your little one too!
Often staying safe and warm indoors feels easier, yet a walk in the fresh air, park, forest or woods can do wonders for you! Fill your lungs with fresh air and try to be as mindful as you can. What can you see, hear, smell, touch? Often we don’t notice wildflowers tucked away by a tree, a beautiful bird song or a bee buzzing by if we don’t pay attention to our world around us. It may all sound obvious but a mindfulness walk can help clear your mind and see things differently. Give it a try and see how you feel.
Talking it over
Talking to friends & family without fear of judgement can be such a helpful release. For professional support, find a therapist at BACP or chat to the helpline at PANDAS Foundation UK who specialises in perinatal mental health.
Online support groups
Finding other parents going through similar experiences can be a good way to build meaningful relationships and offer quick peer support. Facebook is often a good place to start, with groups such as Pregnancy & Parenting Support Group UK and Parents Support And Advice Group UK.
Although you may have a circle of family and friends, having a young child can feel a lonely and isolating time; as though no-one really gets what it’s like. Sometimes even leaving the house can feel challenging, not to mention coping with sleepless nights, illnesses and caring for a little human as well as your self. While it can feel difficult, there are ways to help you meet other local parents and to help you figure out what might be going on in your local area. Who knows where all the playgroups and parks might be otherwise?! Check out apps like:
Keeping a journal of your thoughts, goals, gratitude or whatever you choose can be a helpful way to offload thoughts, feel calmer and minimise anxious, negative or self-destructive thoughts.
Reminding and reinforcing to yourself that you are wonderful (albeit tired!) parents. Here are thirteen super examples:
1) Just as the needs of my children matter, so do my own.
2) I trust my intuition to make intentional parenting choices and decisions.
3) I am brave and courageous for trying even when I think I can’t do it.
4) I accept where I am in life and will make the most of today.
5) In the eyes, mind and heart of my child, I am a good parent.
6) Today I will find peace in being a good enough parent because perfection is impossible.
7) I give myself permission to do something to nurture me.
8) Loving my children is more important than loving every moment of parenthood.
9) I am a good parent, even as I work to become a better one.
10) There is peace and love in my home, even in the midst of chaos.
11) I will do my best as a parent, and that will always be enough.
12) Worrying about what others think only distracts me from being the parent I need to be.
13) Today I will love fiercely, laugh freely and live courageously.
I really hope you find some gems of inspiring self-care tools that you can add to your toolbox of support. Remember to be as full of kindness and compassion for yourself as you can be. You have done the most amazing thing a human body can do; created a beautiful baby and now it’s important you can love, nourish and nurture, not only your child but yourself too.