May: A Month to Honor Yourself

How are you doing, mama? We are in unprecedented times, in a world pandemic and in a time of uncertainty. Our focus has shifted to survival mode, and to what we can control, which is the present moment. What are we doing TODAY? How can I focus on TODAY? With daycares and schools closed, our children are home more than probably ever in their lives, and we are trying to cope. Whether you are juggling working your job from home or restricting your normal routines to activities around the house, we are all in the same boat. Personally, I am grateful for our village, and I don’t know what I would do without all of you! Fit4mom is providing structure to my daily routine, with our workouts, virtual playdates, coffee chats, and MNI, and I am so lucky to have all of you to lean on for support.

We’ve been social distancing for around 7 weeks. In Ohio, we’ve had the stay at home order since March 23 – and even as we prepare for the state to open up again, we will continue to practice social distancing, good hand washing, decreased in-person activities, and in general, a very different life we thought we’d be having this year. My hope is that you are staying healthy and safe, as well as staying positive! While I see it as essential to take care of yourself at all times, it is more important now than ever before to make sure you are fulfilling your needs. Sure, the baby is fed and bathed, the toddler is doing crafts, staying active, and having virtual play dates, and your 1st grader is completing their school work online… but what about YOU? What are YOUR needs?

I find it extremely convenient and helpful that we are celebrating Mother’s Day this month, and then Father’s Day next month. We need a reason to celebrate each other, and the hard work we’re doing to take care of our kids! May is also Maternal Mental Health Month, something very close to my heart. This is celebrated all around the world, and it’s a way to bring awareness to the mental health struggles of mothers everywhere. It is also a way to highlight the many stages of motherhood, from pregnancy to early postpartum, to the many transitions we go through as mothers in raising our children.

So, how are you taking care of yourself? Are you meeting your basic needs? With so much on your mind, it is easy to sideline our own needs and take care of others first. But I believe if we prioritize our needs before those of our children and family, we will be more prepared and better equipped to serve others. How do we balance what we need with what our family needs from us? It is something I practice every day, and I try not to let my perfectionism get in the way too often! There are a few things I prioritize, things that are non-negotiable:

Every day, I schedule in time to move my body. It could be a day where I do stroller strides with Charlie, or throw him in the stroller to take a long run or walk, or it could be a day where I don’t have much time and I sneak in a quick workout after Charlie is down for bed. Even if it is an active recovery day, I find that I have a better day if I have already scheduled in time to move. A little goes a long way – even just a walk around the block with Charlie running circles around me does wonders. Listen to your body – maybe you need to lower your expectations a bit and rest your muscles…. but if you have the energy, make sure to take advantage and fit your workout in. I also have prioritized eating and drinking well, so that my body is fueled for a good day. Try to drink enough water (a good rule of thumb is to drink around half of your body weight in ounces), eat all three meals, and be sure to monitor what you are putting in your body.

I am an extrovert through and through. But even introverts are struggling with social distancing! Make sure you are spending time connecting with your family, friends, and loved ones. It is just as important to reach out for your own health than it is to reach out to check in with others. I have been setting up FaceTime chats with my in-laws, making time for our fit4mom zoom meetings, and I have even gone back to snail mail! I am an incredibly social person, and although it’s hard not seeing people in person, I am trying to focus on gratitude. I am reaching out to my family and friends more than I would normally, and for that, I am thankful!

In my mind, most importantly, it is so important to take care of your mental health. This is a time of uncertainty and fear, and we don’t have a lot outside of unknowns right now. If I spend time honoring my feelings, and letting myself feel what is in my heart, it tends to get easier and release more quickly. It is so common to have fearful and anxious thoughts right now, so it’s important to stay positive. If you think you might need more support, there is help! A resource I recommend and have used (and still use!) is Postpartum Support International. They are offering more support virtually now, and there is help. Please visit https://www.postpartum.net/ to learn more!

This Mother’s Day, please try to take some time for yourself. Take some of the day and honor yourself. Take a solo walk, a long bath, or spend some time reading alone. Even in these times of social distancing, it is important to make time for yourself. When you take care of your needs, you will be stronger and better equipped to go back to your family. You will feel refreshed and ready to face the day so much better.