Feeling tired, burnout or sad as you watch over your baby? Does it seem difficult to imagine that there’ll be a better tomorrow? If you’re feeling these ways, you’re not alone. After all, looking after a baby is not easy. Your baby doesn’t know how to care for himself yet. The burden of care often falls on us as parents, whether we are stay-home parents or not. But just as your baby needs care, you need self-care as well. We offer 4 perspectives in this article on self-care for parents of babies.
1. Realise that you are important to your family
When we talk about self-care, we sometimes talk about it with guilt. We somehow think that by caring for ourselves in the form of breaks and rests, we’re shortchanging the work that we’re supposed to do. We see the number of dishes to be washed, the piles of laundry to be done, the lists of things we have to get from the supermarket and the dinner that we have to prepare for our babies and spouse. Some of us cringe when we think about these.
However, even if it is not for ourselves, we have to understand that self-care matters to our family members as well. If we do not care for ourselves and ensure that we are in tip-top condition, we end up tired, burnout and in worst case scenario, falling into depression. And when such things happen, it is often our family members who suffer. Our babies stop getting the love they need from us. Our spouses start worrying about us and this distracts them also from the work of parenting our babies.
Because we’re important to our families, this makes self-care all the more crucial in our parenting journey.
2. Know that things can wait
Of course, we may ask the question about the responsibilities we need to manage if we engage in self-care. Who is going to do the dishes? What about the laundry? This is especially so if you’re a stay-at-home parent and people would perceive that you have a lot of time on your hands to handle these responsibilities.
But if self-care for ourselves is ultimately important to our families, then perhaps we can afford to evaluate these responsibilities. In fact, we can pause and think about whether the laundry can afford to be left there as we take a nap together with our babies. Our answer to that is that these responsibilities can indeed wait, when seen from the perspective that our rest is important from the longer-term perspective. Don’t let the expectations of others hinder you from self-care.
There is no need to feel guilty for letting these things wait.
3. Understand that you are not alone
If you’re a stay-at-home parent, chances are you’re the only one at home with your baby most of the time. This creates the dangerous perception that you are alone in this journey and that nobody can really understand your struggles. As such, it’s possible that you may even find yourselves bottling up all the emotions and trying to handle all these alone.
But you’re not alone. And you don’t need to be alone. Instead, as part of self-care, you will want someone to be there to support and encourage you along. The closest person you can rely on for such support is by right your spouse. But even if this is difficult, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to find a community out there. If you’re staying in a small town away from your extended family, you can consider joining a social media community, like a Facebook group for stay-at-home mums (if you are one). You may also find support in your local religious or church community.
One beauty of rooting yourself in a community is that you can sometimes find support practically. If you are really taking a break and wants to go out for some “me-time,” who knows your community will have someone who will be able to babysit your baby for that 1-2 hours while you go and sip a cuppa at a café.
So, go out and find a community for yourself. You’ll be surprised to know that you’re indeed not alone in your struggles. This is important, for your self-care.
4. See that you really take a break
Knowing that we need self-care and finding support in community is just the starting point. When the rubber meets the road, we may find that we can’t take our mind off the responsibilities that our have left behind. This may hinder us from truly taking a break and rejuvenating our whole being in this parenting journey.
That’s why it is important that we really take a break. When we take a nap with our babies, let’s just focus on taking that well-deserved nap before we move on with the tasks we are supposed to do. When we are out shopping with our friends, let’s enjoy the company and trust that whoever is babysitting the baby is doing a good job.