Dear tuned-in parents,
Today it’s all about you. It’s time to time to tune in to YOU.
As you know, attachment theory shows that in order for parents to be emotionally available to develop a secure bond with their baby, they need to have THEIR needs met as well.
And in case you’ve forgotten what your own needs include, that’s everything from how much you move each day to how many colors are on your lunch plate and, definitely, how many Zzzs you’re getting.
So it’s time to take inventory. A 3 minute check-in.
It’s like sixth-grade honor code: You grade yourself.
I can tell you for myself, that every now and then I get thrown off course and I need a little nudge to set me back.
When I had little babies at home this was especially true. I definitely didn’t sleep enough. I didn’t do yoga or the gym. And I constantly ate the leftovers from my kids’ plates. Is that you? Then let’s do this.
I’m just going to give you a quick checklist so you can go through and see how you’re doing.
Sometimes there are easy fixes that we can make and it’s nice to have someone we trust remind us to do it.
- How many hours of sleep are YOU getting?
This is a huge topic, I know. Many of you are in the trenches with sleep training or just hoping your baby will start to sleep REALLY soon – once they stop teething, coughing, pooping untimely or forget the old pacifier.
By far your own sleep is your biggest challenge. I know this first hand and I know it from listening to your challenges each week in class.
Good news: There are some things that you can do.
First of all, you can put that Netflix show aside at night and get into bed early. I know that is way easier said than done. When I am addicted to a show (like Fleabag – love it!) I go to sleep every night at midnight.
Not only am I tired the next day but I am shorter with my kids and my body is much more achy. It takes a ton of willpower to Just. Go. To. Bed.
But we can do this. I know we can. Try to make your bed a non-screen zone and get into it no later than 10:00pm. Fine. 10:30pm. I promise you will be a happier person and a better parent.
Here’s a tip: Make it hard for yourself to watch. Put the computer in the other room. Unplug the darn TV. Turn off the phone so you aren’t enticed. Listen. I am telling myself these things, too. I know it’s not easy.
(And – look out for a blog post solely about our favorite subject coming soon…SLEEP)
- How ALIGNED (not toned) does your body feel?
You probably don’t have too much time to go to the gym right now so I’m not even going to suggest it. But I want to give you two tips that will make all the difference.
First, do 15 minutes of stretching a day. Holding a baby is a TON of physical work. It is a huge strain on your body. Stretching for 15 minutes or even 5 minutes a day will help you feel so much better. You can do the strengthening another time.
For now, take care of your body and be kind to yourself. Try to find time to do either yoga stretches or deep breaths.
Here’s another tip that I found extremely important while I had little babies: Stand up straight; put your bag on the other shoulder every now and then; bring your chin back slightly so that your neck is long and lift your chest.
By the time I was done with the constant holding phase for each baby I felt my body straightening out the way Keyser Söze did at the end of “The Usual Suspects.” My body went from all crooked and suddenly I was walking straight.
Try not to make the same mistakes I made.
- How KIND are you being to yourself?
If you’re anything like me during days of having little babies, then you are having extreme highs and lows often in the same hour. Our hormones go a little wild after we have babies, especially if breastfeeding is involved.
So, first of all, know that this will not last forever. This is not your new state as a parent. I promise you will feel more emotionally stable as time goes on.
During this time please be kind to yourself. During any time really. You are working hard to tune into your babies and kids. Now I’m asking you to turn that same level of compassion and patience towards YOURSELF.
To your baby and your loved ones around, you are probably saying a version of “I love you. I’m listening.” Today, I’d like you to do the same for yourself.
Take a moment. Take some deep breaths. And say to yourself, “I love you and I am listening.” Now, see what comes up.
See if you can put your thoughts into a feeling in your body. If you’re thinking about a particular frustration with someone or something, where does that sit in your body? Now put your hand there and hold it lovingly.
You do so much soothing for your baby. You need just as much soothing yourself to keep at it.
- When is the last time you asked for help?
Here’s the final one for today. Please ask for what you need.
Ask your partner to get up in the middle of the night instead of you. Ask your parents to help out if you need them or stay away if you need more space.
Ask your friends to check in more often and be sure to tell her the best times to do so. One woman in my class had a friend who always checked in during the witching hour. The mom loved speaking to her friend (who was not a mom) and didn’t want to miss out on those calls. At the same time, she needed her friend to know how different her life now was and that her needs had changed.
Usually when we tell people what we need they are grateful. We all want to be helpful and have a little superhero moment. Give those around you that opportunity. Let them know where they can swoop in and Save the Day.
To sum it up: Instead of watching an admittedly hilarious 60-minute TV show, dedicate 20 minutes to your own needs (stretch & hold space).
And then go to bed. Immediately to bed. No sweeping. No folding of things. Do not pass Go. I’m quoting board games now which means maybe I need a bit of sleep, too?
And if even reading this gives you a headache because you are so far from being able to take care of yourself right now (trust me, I’ve been there,) then ask for help. People want to help you.
I hope hearing this helps you find a way to feel a little bit healthier and happier.
If it did, let me know which of these mental-health prompts did you need to hear today? Maybe you didn’t realize it until you read it. Comment and let me know so I can ask more parents.
Have a friend who might need to hear one these tips for the good of themselves and their household? Forward this their way and have your own Save the Day moment.
AND – here’s a fun thing. Are you wondering what the best bedtime routine is for you and your baby? Take this QUIZ I put together to find out.
And maybe your friends need a little bedtime help? Send them this link and maybe they’ll thank you tomorrow morning 🙂