One of my favorite and most recommended “homework” assignments for clients who recently had a baby is self-care. This is simply taking time to do something that is restorative for yourself. It’s a time for you to listen to that inner voice that makes you, you. This helps you remember yourself in a season of life where you and your needs seem to be pushed to the bottom of the list. Note: to learn more about the particulars of postpartum depression read this post about it.
Sacrificial Love Does Not Equal Sacrificing Self
The line between sacrificial love and losing ourselves is a narrow divide. New mothers fall in love with their little bundles of joy! Their mothering instincts kick in and they snuggle, protect, and attach to their babies. It’s a roller coaster ride. When I was a new mom I found that just about every part of my body was taken over by the needs of my little one. Every minute of my day was altered, crunched, and squeezed for every last drop of energy and nurturing I could muster. Our babies get their physical and emotional needs met from us almost exclusively- depending on how much support we get from our significant others.
Can we all be honest and say, motherhood is not what we see on instagram or in magazines?
With their nowhere-in-sight baby gear and gorgeous white sofas? And there is a faulty assumption in our culture that as soon as we have children we will no longer have needs and we’re totally fine with it! And when we are faced with the choice of ours or our child’s needs, we will probably choose our child’s needs.
The biggest hurdle on the journey toward self care is quieting that voice inside that says “selfish.” When we fly on an airplane we are all told to put our oxygen masks on first before our children! We have to fill ourselves up so we have something to give. As we care for ourselves we cultivate our inner identity, energy, confidence, and passion. When we listen to our needs we refill what has been drained from us in caring for others. In doing this we model for our families what a fulfilling life looks like, and we also show them that they are separate, but securely attached individuals. Maybe as we refill ourselves it gives us some energy back give to our significant others. This also models for our children healthy relationships and creates a safe and secure environment for our families.
4 tips for self care:
Stop ignoring your needs and start ignoring the “selfish” voice. Advocate for your needs.
Make a plan and schedule it
Don’t apologize for it and ignore the guilt!
Incorporate your support system.
As a counselor working with kids one of the most important parts of my job is being present with my clients. My mind is swirling with to do lists, my expectations of myself and the client, my hunger, my body language, even my language! I continually push it aside over and over so that I can show my clients: I’m here, I see you, I’m with you.
This was never more apparent than when I had to film a play session with my first born. She is 4 years old. She commands a lot of attention. She is constantly saying, mommy? Proclaiming: Mommy! Yelling: MOMMY! SCREAMING: MOMMY! And I snap back to attention. I am constantly fixated on the future- anticipating dinner, cleaning house, planning, worrying, dreaming, self-helping myself mentally. Meanwhile, my 4 year old is eternally in the present, as is my 5 month old whose immediate physical needs are basically all she knows.
After that play session with my daughter, I have started to think about how we all actually live only in the present moment, we create, feel and experience everything in this moment. Our relationships are built in the present- the current second, minute, hour, and day we spend with our children. In the present is where we all relate to each other. Each moment we spend fixated with the past or future is a moment we are not “with” others.
So, as a quick and simple parenting strategy- try to be aware of where you are mentally. Are you in the room? Are you wishing or hoping or worrying about something else? Turn your attention to the little one (or medium or big one) in front of you and engage. You’ll find the present is full of surprises. There are moments to connect and deepen your relationship with that child that you might miss otherwise. Sometimes you are wrestling with your child’s flaws, they might be throwing a tantrum or complaining. Sometimes your attention sparks a conversation, a hug, or allows them to process an idea. It’s not always heavenly, but your kids will notice even if they don’t let on that they notice.
5 tips for Being Present
- Get on eye level with the child.
- Put phone on silent- Phones are time machines that take you everywhere BUT the present
- Be with the emotion they are feeling. Let them express how they feel without questions or a lesson. (Read How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk for more on this!)
- Practice mindfulness- Bring your awareness to your body and your breathing. Take a deep breath in 5 seconds. Hold 5 seconds, Out 10 seconds. Click here for free audio guides or open spotify
- Take care of yourself first. Just like the flight attendant says, put your oxygen mask first, we have to take care of ourselves so that we have something to draw from. That means meeting your present needs so that you can meet their present needs.
Morgan Myers is an LPC-intern at Hope Child & Family Center of Texas. Morgan Myers got her Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health from Texas A&M-Commerce. She has received training in adolescent counseling, play therapy, sandtray and group therapy. She has worked with a wide range of people including the homeless, young adults in a community college, and adolescents. She has worked with moms dealing with postpartum depression and she is passionate about helping people find hope through self discovery and healing. She provides a safe and accepting environment for all her clients.
We’re starting a parenting class for east Dallas moms at Bethany Lutheran Church! This class strengthens the foundation of your relationship with your child while still providing practical answers to common questions! There is no cost, but donations are accepted for materials.
Topics include: appropriate discipline and limit-setting, outbursts and anger, helping kids cope with emotion, managing sensory issues, feeling overwhelmed and tired as a parent.
Monday, June 4 1-2 pm
Wednesday, June 6 1-2 pm
Monday, June 11 1-2 pm
Wednesday, June 13 1-2 pm
Monday, June 18 1-2 pm
(Note: These are During June summer camp at the CDC!)
Hello readers! I’m glad you found me!
I am interested in writing about therapy- the philosophical and the practical. I am a play therapist and adolescent counselor working in North Dallas right now (contrary to my website title). But I am hoping to begin a practice in East Dallas in 2019. My goal is to be a therapist to the community of East Dallas. I am interested in reaching adolescents, and parents with kids in that stage. I also have a particular interest in helping mothers with young children. I want to help women understand themselves better, their mental health, and learn self-care and self-advocacy at a time when life is all about their little ones. There are all kinds of issues my clients face. Below I’ve listed the most common. I hope you enjoy my blog!
5 typical clients in my practice:
- Teens with depression and anxiety
- Teens interested in self-discovery and coping with life’s challenges
- Moms and Dads needing parenting strategies
- Mothers (of young children) struggling with depression, anxiety, adjustment to change, or self-care
- Kids with behavior issues
5 ways I can help
- Individual play therapy for Pre-K and Elementary kids
- Art and activity therapy for Tweens and Teens
- Parent consultation
- Counseling for adults
- Group therapy: Topics range from depression groups for adults, social skills camp for kids, and Parenting Skills Groups. Contact me for more information.
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