You’ve seen all the lists. I’m sure you’ve got a Pinterest board full of “all of the things you need for baby at X months!” And those lists are helpful. They open us up to a world of ideas & products that parents from all over have tried and tested. But one thing I believe that’s missing from the ranks is this number one essential item that can take your motherhood journey to new heights.
Giving birth does a number on our physical bodies. One thing that’s for sure is that nothing is the same. We hear all about learning to love our new bodies after we have children. But what about learning to love our new selves? When we give birth, we’ve not only brought a new life to the world but we’ve also birthed a new version of ourselves. The moment we bring our new baby home, our world becomes a constant mix of feeding, changing, cleaning, and repeat. For some of us, we are nervous but eager to get back to work & we welcome a new addition to our routine. For other moms who stay or work from home, the routine changes as our babies develop.
We make plans, we make lists, we make Pinterest boards — all of which are good things — to fix a problem that doesn’t have an external remedy.
We take ourselves through a series of transitions, on top of “dealing” with one of the biggest transitions of our lives. And yet, the story is the same for most of us: taking a moment to check-in with yourself becomes the last thing on the list. And that realization (because we all have that realization at some point) becomes a catalyst for adding to the chaos in our minds. And now, instead of focusing on how much we have done for our children and our families, we are wallowing in how we’ve let ourselves go. And reading this, you might think it sounds like that should spur us into action. But for many of us, that realization becomes a block for us. Something that we can’t move past.
And so now along with our new responsibilities as mothers, we start carrying around an extra weight of self-pity and frustration. We look all around us for answers or guides as to how we can fix this and lose it for good. We make plans, we make lists, we make Pinterest boards — all of which are good things — to fix a problem that doesn’t have an external remedy. From my experience & listening to so many others, I believe the answer comes from a skill that’s learned from within. What is the one thing that we can learn & practice that will help us to get back on (our self-ascribed) track? What is the thing that will help us step into our purpose? What is the one thing that we restore our respect & love for ourselves?
Learning to grant yourself compassion is not an easy task. Our experiences are REAL. Having compassion for ourselves doesn’t take away from the reality of our lives. What it does do is help us to breathe. Just breathe. It helps us to be more kind & gentle with ourselves when our best-laid plans go awry. It helps us to start the process of reversing the negative self-talk habits we’ve learned over the years. It helps us to not beat ourselves up after we steal 5 minutes to cry in the bathroom. It helps us to understand that life will always be… life. New challenges await us as our lives continue to transition. But one thing we can find comfort in is our compassion for ourselves.
Below are a few ways you can start giving yourself more compassion today:
- Keep a gratitude journal. You can do this by getting a gratitude journal or using the Notes app on your phone to keep a running list. At night, write down at least one thing you’re grateful for (no matter how insignificant you tell yourself it is). In the morning, reread your list as you start your day.
- Download a list of positive affirmations. You can search Pinterest for a plethora of affirmation lists, even by specific topics. Read my article here for more details on how to incorporate positive affirmations into your day. Also, you can download the Mantra app to get notified at a certain time to read a daily affirmation.
- Keep reminding yourself. My therapist gave me this task when I started my own journey of learning to give myself compassion: Set a reminder or alarm on your phone every day (preferably when you wake up), that reads: It’s OK, I’m OK. So, if you wake up at 6 AM, you should be able to (on an iPhone), add a “name” to your alarm. That’s where you’d type it. If not, you can set a recurring daily Reminder with that message. Seeing it and saying it in your head or out loud a few times, for a number of days, is the first step in breaking the negative habits of our self-talk.
life is a journey. No habits are formed overnight; just look at what you knew when you first brought baby home to now. The first step in all of this is to be gentle with yourself.
Disclaimer: If you are feeling like you might hurt yourself or someone else, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you are feeling that you may need more help during this transition, please reach out to your medical provider as soon as possible. I am not a licensed therapist, and I encourage everyone to find the best resources available to them.