By Dr. Shawna Darou, ND
This is the first article in a series called “You’re not alone…” Every day in my practice, I hear from women who feel very alone in their struggle either physically or emotionally. My intention is to normalize some of these things, and provide you with insight and resources. Upcoming posts will deal with issues such as miscarriage, postpartum anxiety, recurrent yeast infections, perimenopause insomnia, adult acne, low sex drive after baby, and more.
Today’s post is certainly close to my heart – I’m in it with you. I’m a self-employed working mom with two kids. I know it’s hard work.
I know that…
- you’ve run a marathon before you get to work, and what used to be a 30 minute routine now stretches to a full two hours;
- a sleepless night is common and you just keep going;
- you crave just 5 minutes of quiet at the end of the day;
- you work through your lunch break so you can pick kids up at a reasonable time from daycare, preschool or school;
- your own self care has become an indulgence – the gym, haircut, manicure, brunch, and you feel guilty for taking just 1 hour for yourself;
- you lie awake watching your feverish child all night when they’re sick, and then get up to go to work the next day;
- even preschoolers wake in the night for bad dreams, wet beds, fevers and cuddles and they almost always call for mummy;
- your 5 minutes with a cup of coffee or tea before everyone wakes up is something you savour;
- you can’t wait until the time comes that you don’t have to pack lunches in the morning;
- as much as you want to be a good partner at the end of the day, what you want most is some quiet time inside yourself to rest;
- most young children are constantly sick all winter, and that you’re also fighting hard to stay well;
- you feel guilty when you’re overwhelmed with motherhood, because you tried so hard or spent so much to have a baby and now it’s hard work and you should just be happy;
- a cuddle from your smallest, the pride in watching your child skate, dance, spell, draw or run does make it all worthwhile.
My intention with this post is for you not to feel alone in the struggle, and to also teach you how to thrive through this period of time. It’s OK to love your work, and your children. You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can model a passion for your profession and self care through periods of stress. I also know that your capacity grows as needed – it’s incredible to see! But self care is essential.
Here are some signs that you need more support:
- you’re feeling more irritable – with your partner and your kids
- loss of sex drive
- feeling tired all the time
- trouble with your memory – forgetting where you left something, and vanishing thoughts
- needing more than 1 coffee to get through the day
- colds are lingering
- feel worse from working out
- your pms has gotten so much worse
- waking in the night (especially early morning hours) and can’t get back to sleep
- constant cravings for carbs and sugar
- gaining weight around the abdomen
What can we do for all of the depleted mothers?
Self-care is absolutely essential when life is busy, and I know it feels like you don’t have time. You need to start small, and remember that you also need good nutrition, regular exercise and enough sleep, just like your children do. Here are my recommendations:
- Find 2 hours during the week that you can claim as your own time. This is time for something you love, not running errands. For example, a Sunday night yoga class, a regular massage treatment, a night free to meet a friend, or simply an opportunity to go out for a cup of tea by yourself.
- Try to make evenings less chaotic after work. Think about meal prep on the weekends, adjust your work schedule if you can, and share duties if possible.
- Know that you can’t do it all perfectly.
- What can you outsource? Do you have resources for help with cleaning, meal delivery, grocery delivery, or others?
- Plan after school activities carefully. Kids need a night off too.
- Don’t sacrifice your sleep. Everything unravels when you’re not rested. This means prioritizing at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
- You need to move your body, but if you’re not doing anything right now it’s OK to start small. Start with 20-30 minutes of exercise 3x per week to just get the routine started. Chances are you will want to build from here.
- Your hormones may need support: ask for help if your periods have changed, your PMS is worse, or you are very fatigued. There is so much we can do!
- Plan your own meals as carefully as you plan your children’s.
- Can you adjust your work schedule to reduce the pressure? – work from home one day per week; adjust your start time or end time; work a 4 day week instead of 5,…
Just pick one or two from the list above, and start today. You’ll be amazed by what a difference even a small amount of self-care can make.
Resources at Darou Wellness:
I’m so pleased to be able to offer various complementary therapies at Darou Wellness to support your health and wellbeing. Here are some thoughts to nourish you, if you identify with this post:
- Naturopathic care: Shawna Darou, ND: hormone balance, adrenal support; Marika Berni, ND: child and teen health.
- Massage – two excellent RMT’s for when you need a break – Patti MacGregor and Nicole McMurray. Evening and Saturday appointments are available.
- Acupuncture with Renee Pilgrim – one of the best ways to calm your nervous system, support hormone balance and to get a break.
- CBT therapy for anxiety, insomnia, overhwhelm and better coping skills – Kari Gulin
- Osteopathic care with Sandy Antunes – self-care for alignment, body aches and pains, postpartum recovery, and also for children.
- Arvigo therapy with Barbara Poczyniak – are your periods different after having a baby, maybe more painful or lasting too long? Arvigo therapy supports uterine and pelvic alignment.