With a history of postnatal depression, PTSD and anxiety, I was very aware that Childbirth (and pandemic parenting) could result in some tricky times. Here’s how I’ve looked after my mental (and physical) wellbeing in just a few precious moments at a time since having my second baby.
After giving birth in September 2020, having had a very healing pregnancy and birthing experience second time around, I was initially living off an oxytocin high. Once my husband went back to work after paternity leave, I was thrust into reality with a school run to master and just one pair of hands. For those first couple of weeks I really honoured my body, and the bond with my new baby, trying to establish feeding whilst having lots of cuddles on the sofa, and binge watching ‘Jane the Virgin’ on Netflix. I was lucky enough to receive a hamper of fresh fruit and healthy snacks, alongside some yummy lactation cookies and some lovely bubble bath so I could take care of my own needs in between feeds and nappy changes.
Fast forward a couple of months, and we had gone from having a newborn who had a few (albeit short) naps a day, and a couple of hours a week support from a postnatal doula, to being thrown back into tier 5, and into a subsequent lockdown with a baby who now hated sleep and an energetic 4 year old! The weather was cold and grey, and I so badly craved the reassurance and company of friends and family that we were no longer allowed. The loads of washing felt never ending, and the sleep deprivation had started to take its toll. We battled with reflux and catnaps, and the previous windows of 45minutes that I was getting to myself each day whilst my eldest was at school became non existent. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed, whilst balancing moments of Incredible love and contentment vs moments of loneliness and resentment.
So I started to reframe my thoughts and actions, rather than waiting for the perfect opportunity to get some ‘Me time’ or moan that I didn’t get a moment to myself again that day, I began to think of some more practical ways that I could protect my wellbeing as a time-poor mum.
So here are a few small practices that made a big impact for me:
- Something that really helped me was getting us out of the house, with an overtired bubba and an emotional mumma, I decided that we could incorporate an ‘on the go’ nap, with some time for me. I began to grab the buggy or sling more often, pop in some earphones and educate, inspire and reassure myself with uplifting podcasts. My favourites are: The Motherkind Podcast by Zoe Blaskey, Anna Mathur ‘The Therapy Edit’ and Vex King, ‘good vibes good life’. The overriding emotion that I experienced when listening to them was relief, but also motivation and comfort. Towards the end of the walk, when my baby would wake up, I would turn off the headphones and just spent a few moments mindfully observing the world around us together, reminding myself that we would be OK. Once he turned 6 months old, I invested in a running buggy and use this when I need a hit of endorphins without the childcare!
2. Ten Minute Practice.
This for me has been an absolute game changer, when I realised that I just couldn’t count on my baby having a lengthy nap, I decided to set myself a challenge and take ten minutes for myself as soon as I put my son down to sleep. Previously I would start sterilising bottles, loading the dishwasher and answering emails, but I desperately craved some down time so knew I needed to make a change.
I started by boiling the kettle, and making a herbal tea so that I was hydrated and nourished for the morning ahead. I would then set a 10 minute timer on my phone, then light a candle and get out a journal / notebook with an affirmation card. I would enhance this by turning off the TV and playing some relaxing spa music to calm my mind. My favourite practice was then to write a gratitude list and note down any thoughts/ feelings to add some clarity or reassurance. Then for however much time was remaining , I would sit and meditate. It allowed me to check in with my mind and body to fully switch off and press ‘pause on my day.’
Once I had done this for a few days in succession, I noticed a huge difference in my mood and energy levels, and nearly 3 months on, I have still done this on at least 5 out of 7 days each week!
3. The Mindful face wash! I often daydream about a lengthy spa weekend, with plenty of sleep and back to back treatments…. BUT then I land back in reality as life of a mum of two boys, juggling a business with limited childcare! So I try and give myself a mini ‘spa’ experience when I wash my face. Rather than it just being a neccessity and haphazardly scrubbing at my face , I try to get the oxytocin flowing with some loving touch and self kindness. Breathing in the aroma of my facial cleanser, whilst closing my eyes and using circular motions with my finger tips helps me to feel calmer. As I take some deep breaths, this small act of kindness reminds me that my needs are important, and that I am treating myself with compassion. Even just 30 seconds of this practice can help me feel nourished and grounded, and is an easy way to be ‘In the moment,’ focusing on my senses during the day.
4. Positive affirmations. This is probably one of my most practiced mindfulness methods. It is possible to recite a positive affirmation in just a few seconds. I won’t go into the science behind them, but in simple terms, reciting positive affirmations or empowering statements can help us to create a new belief system in our minds. For example , if we regularly tell ourselves we ‘can’t’ do something, we will begin to believe this statement as true, and not want to attempt that task through fear of failure. However, if we told ourselves each day that we COULD in fact do it, we would be reinforcing this as our perceived belief and it would become our new truth, thus changing our mindset and giving us a more positive outlook. My favourites are ‘I am enough’ , ‘The tough times shall pass’ . ‘I am doing my best’ and ‘I am strong.’ You can be as creative as you like with them. I stick my affirmation cards on the fridge so that I can see them regularly throughout the day and often write them out in my journal too! Having used affirmations daily during my hypnobirthing practice, I really have experienced their power!
I would love to hear if you have found this useful, or If you have tried any of these Methods yourself.
For an easy introduction into creating ‘Micro Moments of Mindfulness’ why not purchase one of my ready made ‘Mindfulness in a Box’ gifts. complete with an easy to follow instruction guide, affirmation card and meditation script, PLUS learn how to:
- Journal , using my suggested prompts with your own premium free writing journal
- Give yourself a mindful face/ body massage using 100% natural , vegan and plastic free products
- Mindfully eat /drink a tasty treat
- Use your senses mindfully with an ethical candle or wax melt to replenish and restore
- Take regular time out for you
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