Tasmanian Mum Musings | balancing motherhood
How do you maintain a sense of self after you've had a baby?
When David and I decided to have a baby the one thing I knew was that I didn’t want this new addition to completely disrupt our life.
Does that sound at odds with the realities of raising a child? I don’t mean disturbed sleep, an unsettled or screaming baby, and a change to the daily routine. I mean disruption within me, and my marriage. I mean the frustration, resentment, and bitterness that can brew when roles suddenly change.
Currently I’m on maternity leave and I’m cherishing my time with Teddy. I have a flexible workplace and I have this first year at home with him for which I'm so grateful. But as a new mum it can be easy to get lost in the sameness of each day. To lose your confidence, sense of value and your sense of self.
I'm a firm believer in the concept of securing your own oxygen mask before helping others. So as well as devoting this year to my beautiful son I’m setting aside a bit of time for myself. To self care. For me that means writing; reading; photography; gardening; hiking; and practicing yoga.
The best bit is there’s no schedule for these things. I’m not trying to do either/or. Self care and motherhood coexist because Teddy and I get to do things together. We read; photograph; garden; hike; and yoga together. And I feel that sharing things I love with him, especially things that are an expression of myself and my creativity, is helping us to bond. I want to show him that loving, respecting and caring for others starts with loving, respecting and caring for yourself.
I'm not so naive to think self care will happen if I don't prioritise it. I’ve been making 2 lists each morning to help me keep on track with things I want to pursue:
One list tracks things I’m grateful for. It takes 2 minutes for me to write down a few positive things which ensure I’m starting the day on a happy note.
The other is a list of accomplishments. Even my coffee run gets included so that I have the satisfaction of ticking each thing off as I complete it. If it doesn’t get done that day I don’t stress - it just carries over.
Obviously I keep my expectations way low. Things happen in small chunks with a baby in tow and I don't want my self care to become something that stresses me out. Keeping it real keeps me sane.
Teddy is a massive part of my world but he isn’t #myworld. I feel uncomfortable referring to myself as Teddy’s mummy.
I’m a grown woman and I have interests and desires that I can still pursue alongside motherhood. I feel so proud of what I’ve achieved this year and that pride has carried me through those days when things might feel disrupted - those days when the laundry’s piled high, the dishwasher needs emptying for the thousandth time, Teddy wants milk every 5 minutes, and I’m feeling anxious about leaving the house. My sense of value might dim in those moments, but it does not diminish entirely.
This week I changed a small glass window with the help of my neighbour who taught me how to apply the glaziers putty. Learning how to do this made me feel so smug and satisfied. Every time I look at the window I feel proud of myself.
I love these everyday, achievable self care activities. Obviously there are more luxurious strategies, like going for a massage, that can be organised but these don't happen very often. I feel it's important to be "topping up" your self care with small, everyday accomplishments.
I'm always interested in self care strategies. What do you do to keep yourself happy and motivated?
PS I took these photos on a family hike on Tasmania's kunanyi/Mt Wellington. I love taking Teddy out into Tasmania's amazing natural environment for little adventures.