Managing the Mama Load: Perinatal Mental Health Specialist Kim Jones on “good enough” self-care and setting yourself up for success in 2020
You can finally exhale. The holidays are over, and, between cooking the turkey, setting up the tree AND managing the people in your life, it’s time to start thinking about YOU. So, to help you plan a sustainable way to care for yourself in the coming year, we tapped HATCH healthcare advisor and perinatal mental health specialist Kim Jones to share the path to post-holiday wellness.
Before we talk about 2020, let’s slow down and assess how you’re feeling after the chaos. This can be especially critical for new moms whose incredible new babe has made their official debut but potentially changed the way they experienced traditions or family gatherings. So, with the holidays behind us, I want you to assess two feelings:
1. Your Need for Alone Time
Has your family or babe been in your personal space all day? One hour by yourself during or after the holidays can go a long way. I often recommend just going to the store by yourself, even if there’s nothing to buy.
2. Your Need for Connection
Despite the onslaught of visitors, you may be feeling a little lonely. Things have changed and, while the baby (or belly) got some attention, you didn’t get the real-deal connection you crave with the adults at the table. If you’re feeling a sense of lacking, it’s okay to schedule more time. Book a phone call, a facetime date, or download Marco Polo to catch up when you DO have the time.
I tell my patients to take time to reflect on what served you over the past year to help inform your visions for the next. What helped energize you? What filled your cup and what has drained it unnecessarily? Use these learnings into your plans for 2020:
Plan Your Self-Care
Let’s be honest, pending where you are on the journey, you may not have the time for more self-care. But, if you plan it now, instead of waiting for when you really need it, it’s more likely to happen. Many of my patients lean on a light schedule, or even a vision board as they approach having a baby.
Make it Micro
Before becoming a mom, self-care might have looked like an hour in the gym. Now, it might be 10 minutes of exercise at home. Instead of 20 minutes of meditation, make it two minutes or schedule in some deep breathing while you’re with babe. This is what I like to call Micro Self-Care and it is CRITICAL to honor these moments and make space for them. Be flexible with what works and be aware that it doesn’t need to look a certain way.
Put Away the Perfectionist
One common pitfall of a lot of moms is the expectation that everything is going to look and be perfect. I find this to be incredibly self-defeating for my patients, especially when making new year’s resolutions. Lean into the concept of being a good enough mom and taking care of yourself in a new way, with realistic standards for your new normal.
Keep the Goals to a Minimum
Don’t make 10 resolutions for next year. It can be helpful to keep your list short and with flexibility to move and shake. One of my favorite references is The Well Mom Checklist. It was developed by my practice owner at Houston’s Center for Postpartum Family Health and it has quite frankly has gone viral across OB’s in the city.