Cleaning your house without kids is not a break. Showering is not a break. Grocery shopping alone is not a break. It's chores and basic hygiene but mothers are supposed to be grateful to do these things that literally everyone else just does. And at some point, we just break.This message resonates with so many moms right now because we’re balancing considerably more responsibilities with less time, space, and support due to the pandemic (and, of course, to patriarchy). If this sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. And you shouldn’t feel bad—mothers themselves are not responsible for this dynamic. The ways in which our society neglects mothers and caregivers are endless, and we need to do better. In the meantime, it’s useful to be reminded of real self-care action items that can help moms maintain their sense of self and harness their innate power. Of course, we are confined by our respective lived realities; plenty of us lack community (especially now) and resources to accomplish our goals. So instead of thinking about this as a prescriptive list of tasks, consider it a jumping-off point or a gentle nudge to set attainable goals for yourself, whatever your circumstance.
Financial Self-CareMake sure you are involved in household conversations about budgets, spending, and make building and improving your own credit a priority. It’s so easy and common for caregivers, and especially mothers, to overlook their own individual financial well-being. There is a huge spectrum of what this might look like. For some, managing paycheck to paycheck is an accomplishment in itself, while others may be trying to figure out how to invest their excess income. Wherever you find yourself along this spectrum, it’s useful to try and remain aware of your own financial portfolio. One place to start is monitoring your credit score and seeing suggestions for improvement for free with software like Credit Karma or Experian. If you’re partnered, have a discussion about how you will build your own financial portfolio, especially if you’re doing primarily at-home unpaid domestic labor. It’s not unreasonable to expect that some of the family funds will be allocated to you and your individual financial stability.
Physical Self-CareCaring for tiny humans takes a toll on your body. Whether you delivered via c-section or vaginally, birthed or not, some form of physical training or therapy can be useful in helping gain and maintain strength. Pelvic floor physical therapy, for example, helps folks with common postpartum issues like incontinence or pelvic pain, but also aids in strengthening your core, correcting posture, and healing the connections between physical and emotional trauma. A referral is sometimes needed from your OB/GYN or Primary Care Provider, but often isn’t. Bonus: You can begin pelvic floor PT at any time, no matter how long ago you delivered.
Masturbating is an efficient, low-pressure, and safe way to rediscover your sexuality—especially after birth.
Intellectual and Spiritual Self-CareMom-brain is very, very real. Between the shifts in hormones, lack of sleep, and the all-consuming responsibility of keeping another human alive and happy, there’s definitely some time needed to regain balance. If you’re in the trenches of new parenthood, and feel like you’ve lost some aspect of your intellectuality, take heart: This is temporary. One day you will feel like expressing your creativity again. Whether it’s writing, reading, painting, or photography, your passion is still there, promise. Finding small ways to reconnect with it is a low-pressure place to start. Do you craft with your children? Let them take the lead on their projects and you create one for yourself. Do you miss reading? Download an ebook on your phone to check in with when you’ve got some screen time. I can’t recommend Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines enough.
Relationship Self-CareParenting—not to mention parenting during a pandemic—puts relationships under a decent amount of stress. While your relationships with your partners, friends, and extended family members may have taken the back seat, it’s important to make sure you’re able to maintain a connection to your own care community. If you find that you keep coming back to the same problems with the same people, it might be helpful to take some steps to strengthen those connections. Classes and workshops aimed at helping this kind of communication are readily available online at low- or no-cost. Dame, for example, offers an online workshop on couples communication with licensed mental health counselor Jor-El Caraballo. Resources like these are incredibly helpful in resolving ongoing tensions between couples and loved ones, so that you can work together and focus on activities that bring you joy.
Sexual Self-CareThis category is one that lots of moms, and especially new moms, tend to feel really ambivalent about. Whether it’s issues with libido, breastfeeding, or just plain and simple exhaustion, sex often falls to the bottom of our priority list. The anxiety around performing with a partner during such a raw and vulnerable time can prevent moms from experiencing sexual pleasure entirely. Which is why masturbation is incredibly beneficial here. Masturbating is often one of the most efficient, low-pressure, and safest ways to rediscover your sexuality, especially after a huge and possibly traumatic change. If you’re just getting reacquainted with yourself, I’d recommend external clitoral stimulating toys like Dame’s Pom, Kip, and Aer, all of which are known to get you off in record time. Efficiency is key when your alone time is precious.
Imagine how powerful it could be if moms began to really practice self-care for the purposes of longevity and transformation.