Parents of Newborns: Make Self-Care a Priority
Christine Sweeney, LICSW Program Manager, Parent Connection, BIDMC
FEBRUARY 04, 2021
If it seems like a lifetime ago when you could make plans and be spontaneous, you are not alone. With a new baby in your life, you’ve likely come to expect the unexpected, especially now, almost one year into the world of COVID-19. Things that we used to consider as options for self-care – such as getting to the gym or meeting up with friends – are no longer safe options, which can be hard for new parents who need to care for themselves while caring for their new baby at home.
Don’t despair! There is hope and opportunities to get creative so that you can mindfully craft a more balanced life. We can learn (or re-learn!) how to find peace within the chaos, nurturing and supporting ourselves and our partners as multi-faceted people. One of the most effective ways to put this into action is to start small, setting ourselves up for success – which helps us to feel more effective and motivated to keep trying.
Taking time to nurture yourself does not have to require leaving your baby, although it could. But this might not be an option for you right now, and that’s okay. Consider those 15-20 minutes throughout your day when baby is taking a nap. Many parents tend to grab those precious minutes to grab something to eat, throw in a load of laundry, or empty the dishwasher.
In this “must-do list,” I would like to suggest incorporating one thing that you WANT to do, something that will nourish and refuel you. What can be done in 5-20 minutes? Perhaps a journal entry; reading a short article in a magazine (that is not related to baby/parenting); closing your eyes and breathing, focusing on the sensation of the breath passing over the insides of your nostrils; some gentle stretching; or even making a list of things you’d like to try in your new 5 minutes of “freedom.”
Remember that you’re trying out something new, so things might not always go the way you’d hoped. Try to remember to breathe, press the “reset button,” and move forward, knowing that you will have another chance to practice taking 5 minutes later on today. It might be that those 5 minutes is just the ticket, or you might find that you’re game for a longer stretch. Either way, taking time for you, however long or short, is an important way to recharge and keep perspective.