How To Make Self-Care Easy for Moms

How To Make Self-Care Easy for Moms

I think it’s important to shift the conversation so that what’s supposed to support your mental wellbeing doesn’t become a stressor. I want self care to be easy so that moms actually do it.

self care for moms

If you’re a mom or mom-to-be, I’m willing to bet that “self care” can be… a bit of a touchy subject.

Here’s my take: self-care is important, yes, but our approach has to be more down-to-earth so that self care becomes realistic (not just another source of stress).

As a mental health therapist, I think it’s important to shift the conversation so that what’s supposed to support your mental wellbeing doesn’t become a stressor. I want self care to be easy so that moms actually do it.

Let’s break this down…

What stops moms from practicing self care?

Your schedule is fully booked!

In my experience, I see that timing is the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of moms weaving proper self care into their lives.

Moms can’t find the time when it feels like a huge extra task on the to-do list. Self care can feel like another thing to stuff into an already full-to-the-brim day.

For moms struggling to find their groove in early motherhood, taking care of yourself feels like another thing you have to do. When you neglect it, it feels like another thing you’re NOT doing—and that can bring you down.

So many of us see the day slip by without taking a moment for ourselves.

Guilt.

Mom guilt has a tendency to rain on your parade and it certainly makes no exceptions for self care.

I’m going to say it loud and clear: taking care of your needs is not selfish. Taking time for yourself is not luxurious. Self care is not frivolous.

When you take care of yourself, you’re better able to become the mom you want to be. When you look after your needs, your partner benefits, your kids benefit. Everyone wins!

If this is something you’re struggling with because self care feels over-the-top, understand that you’ve been programmed to think that way. It’s not your fault that this is hard for you but I’m here to flip the script.

You matter so much. Your well-being affects others. You deserve your own attention, love and energy.

So, how should we define realistic self care? 

Making self care easy for moms is about simplifying what the concept means to begin with. I want to help you believe that self-care is realistic otherwise it’s never going to happen.

So what is self care, really?

This is your ability to meet your needs in all the different aspects of your life. We’re talking emotional, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual needs.

If we want to feel joy and ease, we must address our own needs so that we have the capacity to welcome those positive experiences. When we think of self care this way, we can understand that this isn’t something you only do when your kids are asleep or with the sitter.

So how can we start our realistic approach to taking proper care of ourselves? I’ve broken it down to three main parts.

Your Body

When thinking about self care for your body, think about all of your physical needs. You need proper nutrition, hydration, rest, comfort. You need some kind of exercise or movement (ideally every day, if you can).

When considering how to care for your body, ask yourself if there’s things you do for your kids that you neglect to do for yourself? I notice that moms often go to great lengths to prepare healthy meals for their kids, for example, but their own meals are a bit of an afterthought. And honestly, I’ve been there too, snacking on the kids leftovers. But why do we do this? What if you could also consider your own nutritional needs, for example? What impact would that have on you?

You might even ask yourself in this moment: what are some easy ways that I could take better care of my physical self? Jot a few ideas down, and remember, keep it super simple!

Your Mind

Taking care of your mind means making sure that your emotional and intellectual needs are met.

On the intellectual side, notice that you’re allowed to keep investing in your interests. You as a human being have the need to learn and grow! Being a mom shouldn’t put a stop to that. So what interests have you put aside? Anything you’ve been curious about? Any new hobbies you’d like to explore?

On the emotional side, it can be really helpful to check in with yourself daily by simply asking: “How am I doing? Where am I at?”

Notice what comes up when you ask that question. Listening to yourself is self care. Remember that.

And if you discover some emotions that are harder to sit with on your own, it might be a good time to reach out to a friend or a professional to support you.

Your Environment

Have you ever felt stressed out and then gone on a cleaning rampage and felt so much better afterwards?

Or maybe you redecorated your living room mantle, hung a couple pictures or bought a new house plant and suddenly your mood improved? Well, that’s no coincidence! Your surroundings influence your mood.

Think about the area in your home where you spend most of your time. Is there anything about that space that you need to change that would be a helpful gesture for yourself?

Think about what’s important to you, specifically (because we’re all different here!). Some people need a spotlessly clean room. Others need plants and natural elements in their personal space. Whether your thing is essential oils or candles isn’t what’s important. And it’s NOT about redecorating your whole house either.

What you’re aiming to do here is notice how your space affects you and then doing something small to bring comfort.

So, what ideas do you have? Is there something ease, free, and fun that you could do to revive your immediate surroundings?

 


 

I hope I’ve made self care less complicated and more realistic for you! Really, the goal is to simplify this concept so that meeting your own personal needs becomes less stressful and less of a burden on your already-busy life.

So what’s one thing that you’re going to do for self-care today? I’d love to know in comments below!

 

How To Be A Happier Mom

How To Be A Happier Mom

Being a mom is H-A-R-D. Like the kind of hard that no one warned you about, the how-the-hell-do-humans-still-exist kind of hard. And if you’re like many moms I know and work with, you probably wish you felt a little happier at times, and less like you’re drowning under the weight of being “mom.”

 

Let me start by saying that you don’t have to always be happy. And actually, there’s a lot of value in allowing yourself to experience your full range of emotions without pushing the harder ones away. 

 

I’m here to help you and other moms manage all the emotions that come your way. And of course, I want to help you feel good! To feel happy. To magnify the positive so that you can manage these days with more ease and joy. 

 

 

My hope is that with these steps I outline below, you can find some ease in this journey, and little by little, learn to balance all that’s on your plate in a way that makes you excited to wake up each day. 

Here’s 9 things to do each day to enjoy being mom a little bit more:

1. Wake Up Before Your Kids

I believe I heard this first from Rachel Hollis, but part of me knew this from day one. When your kids wake you up, you start the day on defence (it feels stressful just saying this!)

 It’s like you’re being attacked!  You’re instantly demanded upon, pulled at, needed before you’ve had a second to sip some hot coffee. 

But when you wake up first, you’re in the lead … on offence, even! You get a chance to create a quiet moment that’s just for you. Even 10 minutes of silence, of enjoying your hot coffee or tea, and begin able to meet the day with a bit more ease can do wonders for your mood. 

2. Find Alone Time Each Day

One of the hardest parts of becoming a mom is that your identity can fade away and it feels like your purpose revolves around your kids. Your needs take the back seat or you might just forget about them completely. 

But frankly, this is not sustainable. Yes, you have a lot to manage and it can seem impossible to find a second for yourself, but it’s so important to try to work this in each day. If there’s no way that you can have alone time, then think about how you can do something that’s just for you even when your kids are around. The point is, you don’t have to be doing things for your kids all the time. You deserve your own attention too. 

3. Do Something Creative

Don’t say you’re not creative! We all have a creative side, it’s just a matter of finding out how to express this. Maybe it’s cooking, drawing, decorating your house, fashion, gardening, singing… the possibilities are endless. 

When you express your creativity, you shift into a different part of your brain and take a break from the to-do lists and all the expectations of motherhood. I like to imagine us all having this creative part inside that’s waiting to express herself… this part of you deserves some attention too. 

4. Get Some Fresh Air

There’s a few reasons why this is good for your mood. Firstly, unless you live in a glass house, you could probably benefit from the outside light. Vitamin D is a known mood booster, so take advantage of this! 

Also, don’t you find parenting easier when you can get outside? The kids love it, you might get a little break, possibly some exercise, and breathing some cleansing air might shift your mood. 

5. Get Ready, Even When You Have Nowhere To Go

As a mom who works from home, I completely get how hard this is sometimes! If I don’t have a counselling client or anywhere to show up to in a professional sense, it’s way too easy to schlump around all day. Yup, schlump… you know exactly what I mean! 

But how do you feel when you don’t get ready for the day? Sure, jammies are way cozier but they aren’t great for your well-being (they can make you feel lazy, tired, and unproductive).

When you get yourself ready each day, as if you had somewhere to go, it puts you in an energized place, ready to seize the day. Try it for a week and see how you feel. 

6. Get Your Kids Involved In Tidying

My husband and I used to sing this annoying little diddy, “make and mess and clean it up, make a mess and clean it up” (but I’d be secretly dying inside because it was so true and not funny at all!). 

Read this a few times over: I am a mom, not a maid. 

It’s incredible what those little kiddos are capable of, and believe me, they tidy up all day long at their preschools and daycare! They can do this at home too. 

Get your kids involved in the tidying and have some daily age-appropriate chores that are their responsibility (like making their beds or tidying toys). They’ll like the responsibility and structure, and you’ll appreciate the help … even if they can’t do it as well as you. 

7. Nail Down Your Routine…

… so the kids don’t ask for a snack every 34 minutes.

Kids thrive on structure, so give it to them (and you’ll benefit too). While spontaneity can be lovely, make sure to also have some solid structure to fall back on. For my household, structure around eating (as in when snacks happen and where kids can eat) made a big difference. 

I’m not talking about refusing snacks when your kids are hungry, but rather, not acting like a hotel with 24 hour rooms service. I remember drawing the line when my kids started asking for snacks 20 minutes after dinner (that they didn’t even eat). 

When you have a schedule, your kids trust that their needs will be met so they don’t have to worry about asking 4200 times for a snack. They know it’s coming.

8. Get Your Kids To Bed Early (Then Do Nothing For Anyone Else)

One of my favourite things is to tuck my kids in, wander back into a clean living room and spend the evening either by myself (bliss) or hanging out with my hubby (also bliss). Those days when I haven’t kept up with dishes or I slacked through dinner prep and didn’t unload the dishwasher and then have a mountain of a mess to deal with after the kids are tucked in are so hard!

So consider how you can get as much done when your kids are awake so that you can have peaceful you-time afterwards.

If you still are blessed with a napping child, then absolutely do NOT do housework when they’re sleeping. You can fold laundry when they’re awake, sleep time is sacred. Don’t miss it! 

9. Practice Gratitude. Seriously. Do It.

You’ve heard this a billion times, I’m sure. But usually when you see something over and over again, it’s worth pausing and giving it some thought. 

When we think about what brings joy, or what we’re grateful for, we strengthen these thought pathways in the brain. And alternatively, when we focus on all the things that are hard or going wrong in life, then our brain just becomes more and more likely to feed those thoughts back to us. 

When you practice gratitude (like writing a list each day of things you’re grateful for) you literally rewire your brain to pay more attention to the positive things that are already there.

It’s quite a transformative practice, and I encourage all moms to do this. Start by writing down 5 things that you’re grateful for each day. I like to keep a little gratitude log where this is the only thing I write down. It’s fun to review your gratitude… sometimes you realize that the things that bring most joy aren’t always what you thought they’d be. 

Here’s a video tutorial I created to support you during this hard time! It’s FREE! 

What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments!

 

xoxo Kate

 

 

Re-Wire Your Self-Critical Mom-Brain with Self-Appreciation

Re-Wire Your Self-Critical Mom-Brain with Self-Appreciation

You’ve heard all about gratitude, right?

Maybe you’ve even tried writing down things that you’re grateful for each day? Well, what about self-appreciation? Have you ever made a list of things that you appreciate about yourself? 

But wait Kate, isn’t that kinda vain? You want me to write about all the things I’m good at? It feels funny…

Good! It should feel funny. That’s how you know you’re carving new pathways in your brain.

 

Now, I’d be hard-pressed to find a mom who doesn’t worry about her mistakes, and I’m willing to bet you’re no different.

Like that time you raised your voice and felt guilty about it … 

Or that time you fired up another episode of My Little Pony so that you could zone out on your phone…

Or how about that time you were late for school because you just wanted a few extra moments to yourself before waking up the kids… (that one never goes as planned, does it?)

And to be clear, these are all my examples… I’m just going out on a limb to bet that I’m not alone here… ?

These are the kinds of moments we look back on and feel that swell of mom-guilt, regret, of “what’s my problem?” or “why do I keep doing that?

And quite honestly, these feelings aren’t all bad…

To care about our flaws, oversights, massive screw-ups… it can be quite useful to dwell on the negative sometimes. But just sometimes.

If we feel uncomfortable about something (like the way we spoke to our kids early that day) then we become motivated to do something differently… because who wants to feel guilt? Ugh.

However, what often happens is moms get lost in a sea of self-judgement, blame, and “I wasn’t good enough” while completely overlooking all the things they did incredibly well that day!

Let’s Do Some Self-Appreciation, Shall We?

So, my friend, that’s what we’re gonna do right. friggin’. now. Alright? 

Because no matter how many things you can add to your “fail” list for the day, I bet you there’s twice as many things you did right. Right

So what are they?

Take out a pen and paper (okay fine, open your Notes app) and create a new note called: “THE THINGS I DID WELL TODAY”… and maybe even add a smily face emoji ?

Now get writing.

Start by bringing yourself right back to the moment you woke up and then play the movie back, in slow motion, with curiosity about all the ways you showed up today!

  • Did you get out of bed when you needed to? (or close enough)
  • Did you greet your children with love and kindness? 
  • Did you make breakfast and have some connection time with your family? 
  • Did you get your kids ready for their day? 
  • Did you show kindness, warmth, and compassion? 
  • Did you make eye contact, tuning in to your children? 
  • Did you send them off to school with everything they needed… like clothes and lunch? (Yes these things count too!

Mama… I want you to see that according to these questions… it’s hardly 8:30am yet!!  

Imagine if you went through your ENTIRE day making mental note of the things you did well?  I bet it’d be a HUGE list!

Why This Matters

There’s a reason I encourage you to do these thought exercises… it’s not just for fun or because it feels good… even though it does ?

When we intentionally think NEW thoughts, we literally create new pathways in the brain that become more and more reinforced overtime. If you ONLY think about the negative (your mistakes and flaws), and continue to give your energy to those places, then that’s where your automatic thoughts will hang out.

But if you ALSO direct your attention toward positive aspects of the day, of yourself, of your life in general, then you’ll find yourself naturally having a more balanced mind.

It might feel strange and clunky at first, but that’s okay, you’re learning.

And really, it’s quite amazing to witness this transformation and it doesn’t take long!

Practicing positive thinking, gratitude, self-appreciation… these are ways to expand your thinking patterns so that you don’t keep missing out on the beauty that life offers you because you’re stuck in a cloud of self-judgement.

Practicing self-appreciation will allow you to notice your strengths, your gifts, your value that goes so much beyond how you measure up as a mom.

So, ask yourself at the end of today, and everyday, “what did I do well today?” and “what am I proud of?

All my best,

xox

Kate

 

7 Things To Do Each Day To Boost Your Mood

7 Things To Do Each Day To Boost Your Mood

Do you ever feel like you wake up on the wrong side of the bed more often than not? And that “being happy” is just not something you experience on the regular?

Although it might seem like this sometimes, being happy isn’t something that some people have and others don’t (so don’t worry that you somehow got ripped-off in the mood department) … it takes a little bit of work!  But just know that there’s a LOT that you can do to boost your mood each day!

ways to boost your mood

 

Here’s a list of things that you can do every single day to put a little kick in your step and boost your mood so that you can get back to enjoying your life!

1. Make Your Bed

Turns out your mom was right.

Making your bed each day, while seemingly a boring chore, will set you on a path for the day. It’s almost symbolic of your willingness to create order, calm, and beauty in your day, and a reflection of the intention you have to start the day off right.

And really, doesn’t it feel amazing to cruise around a tidy bedroom rather than just shutting the door and hoping the mess will somehow take care of itself?

2. Open Up The Blinds

Let the light shine in to your home as much as possible!

Light energy is powerful and a very clear mood booster (and energy cleanser). Sunshine can literally “clean” (or bleach) your furniture, clothing, hair, whatever it contacts.

So, think of natural light as also capable of cleansing your energy and moving you into a more positive, uplifting headspace.

Sitting in a dark or dull space brings your mood down, keeps you in  a tired and lethargic state and doesn’t raise your happy-vibes.

But when you routinely open up the blinds each morning, you signal to your brain that you’re ready to wake up, get motivated and crush your day with purpose.

Plus it feels amazing, so there’s that.

3. Get Yourself Ready For The Day (even if you have nowhere to go)

This is a biggie!

It’s crucial that you do all the things you need to do to feel ready to greet the world as soon as you can each morning.

By getting ready, you cue your brain to think, “ya, let’s do this!”  If you schlump around in your PJs you’re basically saying “oh gosh no, please make it stop, I don’t want the day to happen.”

But the day always happens, with our without your big-girl clothes. So what mindset do you want to carry with your throughout the day?

I’m ready for this!” Or  “Make it stop!” ?

This is even more important if you work from home or stay at home with your kids, because the lounge-wear and messy-hair is just. so. easy. But also incredibly mood-dampening.

Now, I’m not saying you need a full Friday-night face on by 8am, but get dressed, brush your teeth, and get yourself ready-enough so that you don’t slip into the unmotivated, low energy, blah-zone that we all know too well.

4. Practice a “Happy Mantra”

You know what’s cool about our minds? We can literally plant ideas that we don’t necessarily believe to be true, but by repeating them and focusing on them, they become more believable and eventually weave into our stories.

This is really good news!

So how do you want to feel about yourself, your day, your life? Do you wish you could say that you feel full of joy every day? Do you long to have a baseline of happiness? Do you wish you had more energy and spunk?

Well, say it outloud, every single day, and eventually you’ll start to believe it, and truly live it!

Sit in silence for a few minutes and focus on your new mantra. Put your hand on your heart, eyes closed, hold the vision of yourself beaming with joy and light and smiles…

I am full of joy…. My life is so good…. I can handle anything …. I love my life” 

What phrase do you need to hear? Write it down. Stick it on your mirror. Put in on your phone background. Ask your friend to remind you about it.

5. Do Something Creative

And don’t you say, “I’m not creative.”

You are.

Everyone is, we just express ourselves differently.

Creativity is getting dressed in a way that lights you up.

Creativity is writing.

Creativity is cooking.

Creativity is decorating your living space.

Creativity is singing.

How do you fuel your creative drive? How do you express this part of you? See if you can weave some kind of creativity into your days and watch how you mood creeps up into the joy-zone.

 

6. Get In Some Nature-Time

For some of us, getting time outside to soak in the natural world isn’t that easy… especially when you live in the city, or have a schedule where most of your daylight time is spent indoors.

But see if you can squeeze in a few moments where you connect with nature, or at least some natural things like plants, a bouquet, fresh air.

The concept of “grounding”, while certainly not a new practice, is rooted in some cool science. When you come in contact with the earth (like standing on grass or the beach, or even touching something that’s alive like trees) there’s an energy transfer that takes place.  After all, everything has a charge.

We pick up a lot of unhealthy energy (from tech devices, concrete jungles, transport, stress) that doesn’t help our mood. Grounding yourself is literally like grounding an electrical wire into the earth to absorb the shock.

Mother Earth is such a gem, and always there to help you boost your mood.

7. Front-Load Your Day

When you start your day with a spark of energy and productivity, you’re likely to ride that wave throughout the day and feel the mood-boosting ripple effect.

But alternatively, when you start slowly, it’s hard to get going, isn’t it?

If you can knock a few things off your list as soon as you can (even if it’s just throwing a load of laundry on, or emptying the dishwasher) you’ll feel good about yourself and have a better chance of feeling good throughout the day.

Plus, if your energy dips later on in the afternoon, you won’t have that extra guilt of unproductivity weighing on you because you already crushed it in the morning. And, you’ll be more likely to give yourself permission for self-care, relaxation, and fun later on (all good things for your mood!) if you have a productive morning.

 

7. Move Your Body

 

No, you don’t have to kick your own behind every day, but find a way to move your body for at least 30 minutes.

Go for a walk.

Have a dance party in your kitchen.

Do some stretching on your lunch break.  Whatever! Just pick something.

There’s mounding evidence from massive research studies that clearly link exercise to your mood, so much so that it’s completely undeniable that the two are linked. 

So, if you want to feel happy, light-hearted, and in a good mood, then you must move your body.

Find something that’s fun, that takes your mind off the challenge of exercise, or that accomplishes 2 things at once (like exercising with a friend). Book it in your calendar. Make the commitment and watch your mood soar to an amazing new place.



So where will you start?

What tips grabbed your attention the most? And how can you weave that into you day starting right away? Let me know in the comments below!

All my best, Kate.

 

6 Reasons Why New Motherhood Is The Perfect Time For Counselling

6 Reasons Why New Motherhood Is The Perfect Time For Counselling

Becoming a parent is one of the most emotionally intense experiences that you’ll go through. Sure, it can be overflowing with sweet moments of joy and total awe, but it can also be incredibly stressful and throw your life into chaos.

This, by the way, is more normal than you think, we just don’t talk about it very much, do we? 

Most women plunge into motherhood with the belief that they’ll be naturals, they’ll love it, and that it’ll sprinkle their relationship with some kind of sweet magic.

Sometimes it does… but there’s usually more to the story.

The reality is, becoming a mom is really, really, really hard. So if you’re struggling in this new journey, just know that you’re not alone, and you’re certainly not doing anything wrong. It might be time, however, to consider getting some support so that you can find balance, and even joy in this really challenging time of life.  

And even though this might feel like the busiest stage of your life, it could also be the perfect opportunity to get some help.

Because you matter too, mama. 

 

 

Here’s 6 reasons why new motherhood might actually be the perfect time to finally get some counselling.

6 Reasons Why New Motherhood Is The Perfect Time To Get Counselling


1. Your Entire Worldview Is Turned Upside Down 

It might be hard for you to remember what it was like before you were a mom, but here’s a quick snapshot: life revolved around you. 

Not so much anymore, am I right?

Even during pregnancy, there was still so much focus on you, your health, your needs and then suddenly you flipped the switch and everything became focused on the baby.

Now of course this is based in survival (your child’s survival, that is), but it can be really shocking to experience this!  And during the time when you’re recovering from childbirth (or whatever way your baby came to you and into this world), your well-being is deprioritized.

No matter how eager you were to bring a baby into this world, you might find yourself struggling with having to care for another human being, and being 100% responsible for them. This is one of the biggest paradigm shifts you could go through … you are essentially looking at the world through a different lens now … the new lens that you’ll always look through from now on.

Let that sink in. 

When you go through a shift like this, there’s also a loss that occurs: the loss of your old life, the ease, simplicity, self-centeredness (in a completely normal and totally acceptable way) that you’ll no longer have.


 

2. Your Identity Is Shifting

What moms often don’t expect is the shift in how they see themselves (and how society sees them). In other words, how you feel about being YOU, how you define yourself, how you move through your life, completely changes.

There might be parts of your old self that you miss.  Maybe it’s the free-sprirt, stay-up-all-night and soak in the moment part of you, or the spontaneous and wild adventurous part…  or even the creative, passionate, and inspired part of you…

And maybe you wonder where that woman went?  Is she still there? Is that still you?

You might have longed to become a mother, wanted it so badly, but you’re still allowed to mourn the loss of who you were and how your identity has evolved. You might even love how it’s changed, but you might still feel a sense of loss of how things used to be.

Working through some of these challenges in counselling can help you sort out which parts of you you’d like to pull forward into your current life, and how you could go about doing that. It could also help you reconcile and make peace with how your identity is changing. It can be a beautiful thing to witness, but no doubt challenging.


3. You Face Unrealistic Expectations 

I’m willing to bet you used the “What To Expect” app during your pregnancy… I did too, it’s all good:)

Now, there’s nothing wrong with this app (or the book), but it raises the issue of all the expectations women gather throughout their entire lives about what pregnancy and motherhood will be like. 

We completely romanticize it, first of all, expecting it to be some kind of honeymoon love-fest with your new snuggly baby and partner who develops a renewed infatuation with you (funny, right?).

We think getting pregnany is as easy as having sex one time…

Then we expect pregnancy to be all about cute maternity clothes, baby showers, nesting, and glowing in our maternal-goddess halo.

And then we think we’ll breathe our way through child-birth, and naturally take to motherhood because after all, we’re built for this, right?

Hmm.

Well, it doesn’t always go that way, does it?

You can probably look back at your pre-mom self and smile at how little you knew, and how different you thought this would all be, and believe me, we’re all in the same boat.

But I want you to know that society hasn’t exactly set you up very well.  You probably anticipated an experience that’s so different from what reality actually looks like.

Maybe you don’t feel like a natural. Maybe this isn’t easy. Maybe you don’t even like it.  

And guess what? All of that is okay! Really, it is. And it’s more normal than you think.

Most moms feel like they don’t know what they’re doing. Most feel shocked about how hard it all is. Most moms worry that they aren’t cut out for this whole mom-thing.

You’re not alone. 


4. Your Relationship Has Changed

Yikes, this one might have come as a surprise. But honestly, it would be a challenge to think of a couple who didn’t struggle after having a child.

Just think about it, the beautiful dynamic that you fell in love with, that you created together, that was working is suddenly jumbled up and tossed in the air, and it usually takes some time to settle into a new groove.

During a chat about whether or not we’d have a third child, my husband said to me, “Well, I guess I’d get bumped down on the hierarchy one more time” and my jaw dropped – I hadn’t realized he felt this way. With each child, he felt less and less important to me.

Now, I know that the dynamic in my relationship doesn’t happen for everyone, but there’s inevitable a shift in your relationship that’s often surprising.

Maybe your partner feels like you don’t have enough time for them.

Maybe sex is the last thing on your mind.

Maybe you can’t stand them for some reason.

Maybe you feel “touched-out” at the end of the day and can’t imagine cuddling up together.

Maybe you feel angry at your partner, and can’t pinpoint why.

And maybe the financial stress of having a child is weighing on your relationship.

The relationship dynamic gets jostled when a new baby arrives, and counselling can be a really great way to sort through some of these challenges.  Specifically, counselling may be able to help you and your partner learn how to communicate about these challenges, and identify which problems are temporary, and which need to be addressed head on.  Navigating relationships can be so sensitive, and working with a therapist can help alleviate some stress.


5. You Might Have Experienced Childbirth Trauma 

Despite childbirth being a “normal” experience, many women will go through a traumatic birthing process that’s very challenging to process on their own.

Trauma is typically defined as an experience where a person witnesses or is confronted with serious physical threat or injury to themselves or others, where they experience significant fear, helplessness or horror.

Millions of women develop PTSD from struggling to give birth, although many won’t define it in this way (partly because it’s rarely spoken about).

If you went through an incredibly difficult childbirth, you might actually develop symptoms of PTSD which could include recurring or overwhelming memories, flashbacks or nightmares about the birth. You might also feel considerable stress and anxiety about the experience, and feel panicked when you’re exposed to things that remind you about giving birth.

Childbirth trauma can manifest in many different ways, like subsequent anxiety either about your own safety and wellbeing or about the health and safety of your baby. This kind of prolonged hyper-vigilance can exacerbate the stress and exhaustion that new moms already feel.

Moms can go through many other challenges like disrupted mother-baby bond, relationship challenges with their partner, sexual dysfunction, prolonged fear, emotional dysregulation, changes in physical well-being, mood and behaviour, lack of interest in social interactions, as examples.

Since not all women experience childbirth trauma, what causes it?

Well, it’s not black and white, but childbirth trauma seems to be more likely to result when women experience unexpected interventions, have significant fear about their safety or their baby’s safety, go through prolonged pain leading to helplessness, acquire significant physical injuries, and go through complicated recovery. It’s also noted that women who felt like they lacked control during the process, and didn’t have adequately sensitive or compassionate care during childbirth are more likely to develop PTSD (info from a study by the University of Sussex)

Part of the issue is that immediately after childbirth, the focus quickly shifts to the baby and moms are not often given enough care and support. I’ve also heard many moms question if they are “normal” and wonder if this is just how it goes for everyone.

It’s not essential that you figure out whether or not to categorize your birth experience as “traumatic”, but rather, if any of this discussion resonated with you it could be helpful to talk to a counsellor and receive support. There’s a lot that you can do to alleviate some of the emotional symptoms of childbirth trauma, and you deserve this support.


6. You’re Pressured to be Entirely Self-Sacrificing

It seems like our society encourages moms to be unhealthily self-sacrificing. Women are almost celebrated for giving every last ounce of themselves away in the name of being a “good mom”.

But we all know how this story goes, right?

… Mom gives every drop of energy, love, attention, resources to kids/ husband/ house/ dog/ every-one-but-herself, and then hits a major wall. This way of being is not only totally unfulfilling (because you’re just living for everyone else) it’s also unhealthy and completely unreasonable.

I’m happy to see the landscape shifting as we talk more and more about self-care, the importance of mental wellbeing, of balance and continued personal growth. Mom’s are becoming more willing to say “hey, uh… what about me?”

 

Taking care of yourself is synonymous with being a good mom. As in, you cannot untangle one from the other.

So if you find it hard to take care of yourself because it feels selfish or unnatural, then do it in the name of being a good mom. Your kids deserve a mother who has energy, who lives her life, who is healthy and models wellness. Who smiles, has fun, enjoys this beautiful life.

Start there.

And then over time, see if you can reclaim the reason you take care of yourself… see if you can make it about YOU.

In the counselling work that I do with new moms, we dive deep into self-care and get to the core of what gets in the way of truly taking care of your needs (usually it has to do with some old limiting beliefs about worthiness).

Your ability to give yourself care ultimately sets the tone for your family, a tone that sings loudly and clearly, “Mom is worthy of support, love, and energy, because mom matters.”  Isn’t that the message you want your family to receive?

Also, the personal challenges that existed before you became a mom are still hanging around… but you already know that, right? No, unfortunately, they don’t usually disappear when we ignore them. And sometimes with the stress and exhaustion of motherhood, our old “stuff” comes to the surface and demands that you pay attention.

So take the cue. It’s okay to do some personal work that has nothing to do with you kiddos. Because believe me, your “stuff” isn’t going anywhere. It’ll patiently wait until you pay attention.

The cool thing is that counselling is a form of self-care in itself. Maybe seeing a therapist could be that first step in prioritizing yourself again, in finding ways to give yourself adequate love and care.


Thankfully, society is shifting into a place where mental health challenges are less stigmatized, and mental wellness is celebrated. Seeking professional help from a trained counsellor is totally normal and equally important as visits with a medical doctor.

Give yourself permission to put self-care at the top of your list, and if you’re struggling in your role as mom, consider reaching out for support. This might be one of the most important decisions you can make to support yourself in this journey.





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Considering Counselling?

I offer counselling for women in British Columbia, and it’s entirely done online! With video-based counselling sessions, it’s much easier to weave this into your life, because I know how hard it can be to get to an appointment!

You can learn more about online counselling here.

All my best,

Kate Borsato

 

A Therapist’s Guide to Self-Care for Busy Mamas

A Therapist’s Guide to Self-Care for Busy Mamas

You already know that self-care is important, and in fact, a necessary part of a healthy and balanced life. And especially in your role as “mom”, you’re clearly aware that your self-care needs are the first to drop off the priority list when lift gets hectic … which is probably all the time.

Now, when I talk about self-care I’m not referring to mani-pedis and facials.

Self-care is not extravagant. It’s not frilly or luxurious. It’s not even expensive. Well, it doesn’t have to be at least. And even though it’s often thought of as an “extra” or “if I have time I’ll get to it”, self-care is actually the most important thing you can do as a mom to keep balance… and your sanity.

 

Reset the Meaning of Self-Care

So first of all, can we all reset our understanding of what self-care really is? Just ask yourself the simple question: what do I need in order to feel cared for and comforted, and how can I do this for myself? 

For moms, this often comes down to the most basic needs, like eating nutritious food, moving your body, sleeping well, stimulating your mind, processing emotions, and finding some quality interpersonal connections that aren’t your kids!.

Self-care is about tending to all parts of you, including your mind, body, spirit, and relationships.

It’s about checking in with yourself on each of those levels, understanding which areas need more energy, and how to actually meet those needs. It’s unique to YOU.

The Reality You Know All Too Well

But here’s the challenge: especially during those early years with your kids, your needs take the back seat.

And honestly, I think this is natural and not necessarily a bad thing.

Your life feels out of balance because it is out of balance. Never in your life will another little human need you to the extent that young kiddos do!

But just remember… it’s temporary.

Now as a mom (and therapist) who get’s how hard this is, I certainly won’t tell you flippantly that you need to focus more energy on you. To be honest, I’m not sure that if a therapist told me to “do more self-care” I would have given it much thought… it never seemed realistic.

In my mind, there was absolutely no way there was time in the day to do anything for myself.

Self-Care As An Item On The To-Do List

You see, I used to view self care as another item on the to-do list that I just didn’t have time for, likely because I always failed at it.

Somehow I had this idea that I could make self-care a central part of my life virtually overnight, but all this did was brought me more stress knowing how brutally I was taking care of myself.

Why can’t I just take these vitamins?

How hard is 30 minutes of exercise a day?

Why do I keep staying up so late?

Why do I drink so much coffee? What’s wrong with me?  

We often set the bar too high, expecting monumental change to happen almost overnight and then loathe ourselves when we fail “yet again.”

And if we equate self-care to another chore on the to-do list (like I had been doing) then it’s unlikely to get done. We might even actively avoid it just like that laundry pile in the corner.

Are chores motivating? Exciting? Calming and fulfilling?

Do they let you recharge your energy, calm your system, and feel better? Maybe… but probably not.

Aim Low . Like Really Low

So here’s my first suggestions to help you make self-care part of your everyday life: stop setting such lofty goals that make you feel badly about yourself! 

Now this might be strange to read and certainly counter to what you’ve probably learned, but what if you lowered your standards? Could you consider creating small and do-able goals rather than shooting so high and ultimately setting yourself up for disappointment?

Not only will you avoid feeling so terribly about yourself, you’re also more likely to create a habit when you smart small (it’s science, apparently).

Reduce coffee instead of cutting it out …

Workout twice a week rather than think somehow 6 days a week is realistic …

Write for just a few minutes in your journal each day.

Eat something, anything, green every day.

Ask yourself, “What is simple and doable?”

 

Double Dip With Your Time

The other key to easily weave self-care into your life as a busy mom is to double dip with your time rather than add more to your plate.

If we are so damn good at multitasking (cuz we are, right?), then multi-task the heck out of self-care. Can you do something for yourself while you are going about your normal day?

For example, maybe you put on your favourite music when cooking dinner and give your ears a break from the kid-tunes you’ve so kindly rocked all day for your little ones.

Let’s say you’ve been wanting to start a gratitude journal. What if you got into the habit of writing a few things down every morning at the breakfast table while you sit with the kids? You could even make gratitude more of a family practice or ritual during dinner time.

What if you learned a simple visualization that you could do every day in the shower? Here’s an idea: My favourite is to imagine the water rinsing off everything that I don’t want or need to be carrying around with me that day. It might be frustration, self-judgement, worry, regret … just imagine the water taking it all away. Then, focusing on what you want to carry with you throughout the day (like ease, calm, positivity) washing over every inch of you. Ahhh, so good 😉

And my personal favourite for moms of younger kiddos: hang on to naps or quiet time as long as you can. Teaching your kids the value of resting the body and mind for an hour in the afternoon is a beautiful lesson, and then see if you can take that time to dive into a book or do something just for you.

Oh, and also. If you want to escape on Instagram, that’s okay. That’s self-care (to a degree) in my books as long as it feels like rest/entertainment/enjoyable.

Make Self-Care So Easy

What I want to illustrate is that self-care doesn’t have to be a huge monumental gesture of self-love, and it doesn’t have to cause stress or take up time that you certainly don’t have.

I encourage you to be creative and find ways that you can sneak self-care into to you daily family routine so that it doesn’t cost you even more time and energy.

Re-learning how to prioritize yourself takes practice. By becoming a parent, you shifted your focus and finite energy to your children and this inevitably leaves less for you.

Your job now is to renegotiate how you fit into the equation. Start right now by thinking of just one small way to send yourself some of the love you so rightfully deserve.

xoxo

Kate