Every mother needs a break. Be it a working mother or a stay at home mother. If we ignore to take care of ourselves due to other demands in life, our operating efficiency suffers, and our ability to accomplish important things, such as taking care of our kid(s) can suffer as well.
Indeed, even otherwise, self-care has become an important part of our daily routine for de-stressing ourselves. We need to remind ourselves that it is necessary to take a few minutes everyday to relax and to breathe. The pace of our life is fast and everything we do have goals and plans in order to accomplish as much as we can in as little time. As a single individual, with a full-time job, I was able to save time for several fun and extracurricular activities. However, things took a U-turn as soon as I had a baby. I got help from my parents for a few months, however, after those initial months I have had to raise my child on my own here at Germany. My husband is a researcher and hence he is not restricted to a 9-5 job. Sometimes he has to work during weekends, and travels frequently. This leaves me alone to care for my child 24×7! I cherish the joys of motherhood, however I also feel exhausted. Last month, my child and I were sick cyclically, and that left me overwhelmed and stressed.
Fortunately, due to my professional practice, I am aware of the importance of self-care. That is, I am aware that I need to take time out for myself to refill emotionally and psychologically. When I am in a good state of mind, I am able to provide for my child and my family without getting angry or depressed. It doesn’t mean that I am able to put everything I know into practice — Sometimes I am angry and sometimes I cry! Sometimes I take one day at a time, and sometimes I seek support of my husband to meet my immediate needs. At this stage, when my daughter’s needs are my priorities, I tend to opt for following when I can to care for myself:
Availing paid care!
Since we have moved to Germany last year, we do not have care support of family or friends. On the other hand, my child is highly social and has a lot of energy. So, we figured out that sending her to a daycare for a few hours, would give her and myself a little time away from each other. She has adapted very well to this arrangement. The
downside is that she often falls sick It takes a toll when that happens. However, our friends and well-wishers have assured us that it will get her immune system stronger.
Good food to cheer me up!
That is, finding opportunity to cook the food that I like. Thankfully, my eating habits involves a lot of healthy food and I always keep ‘chat-food’ ingredients at home. In my experience, when I am hungry or tired, I struggle to give my best.
Finding an activity or work!
It is difficult for me to manage a full-time job and a full-time house without feeling stressed and sleep deprived. Hence, I opted to look for part-time work or freelancing. Having an activity allowed me to use my time constructively as well as provided me an opportunity to meet other adults outside the home. Working part-time allows me to
keep my skills fresh and my resume strong. At the same-time I enjoy the flexibility and some down time with my child.
Music and dancing!
My little toddler picks up on the musical tunes and moves her body whenever she hears any form of music. Well that means we both can enjoy some bollywood music in the evening when our energies are running low. As we already know, physical movement helps boost our moods and this works way better than any coffee or chocolates.
Video calls back home!
In absence of friends and family in Germany, we love to video chat with my family in India. This way we get to stay connected with my folks. As a mental health counselor, I am aware of the power of cathartic venting, that is basically talk it out. Relationships are important building blocks of our emotional health and so I take time to connect with people as much as I can. As a counselor when I am listening to someone, I focus on listening and avoid judgement or
advice. Thus, when I am down, I seek out people who would do the same for me.
I have noticed that it helps my kid to calm down and use her energy constructively outside the home. Depending on the weather I put her in the stroller and take her to indoor or outdoor places or playgrounds. That way I can take her to some safe place and let her explore on her own. She interacts with other children and I get to meet other mothers. This way we both get some fresh air and new company.
Sometimes my house is just a mess and that is ok!
Having a curious toddler results in a messy house. She loves to take out all her toys at once, she loves to take various clothes and bags around the house and drop them on the floor, she loves to eat on her own and that means food is everywhere from her clothes to her food tray and the floor. Some days me and my husband can’t keep up with the mess and that is ok.
Thus, I would like to emphasis that bringing a child into a family brings its own stresses and responsibilities. When we become a mother, we add motherhood to our already existing personality. Caring for self and indulging in some activity that we like doesn’t mean we are ignoring our child. Experiencing various negative emotions doesn’t
make us weak; as long as we practice emotional management and that can start with self-care.
Every circumstance is neutral, it is our reactions that determine the path! The author of this article Dhara Sheth believes in positive human potential to bring the change.