Creating ‘me time’ and why it’s so important
Becoming a mother for the first time can be an unbelievably stressful venture. One that, only once you have been there, can you fully comprehend the extent of this life altering, body destroying, emotional roller-coaster.
For me, becoming a mother for the first time was beyond tough. Our beautiful bundle of joy started life with hours of reflux and colic screaming matches, which meant that sleep was no longer a part of our nightly (or daily) schedule. I constantly questioned everything I was doing, scrutinized how I was settling her and read every single book about getting your baby to sleep that’s out there. Nothing worked. I quickly felt like a failure.
As a result of this I, as I am sure all mothers have, faced many emotions on my journey of motherhood: Fear, happiness, love, anger and even hatred. At times I hated my choice to become a mother. Looking back on my first few weeks with my newborn, and this is hard to admit, but life was all of a sudden very different and I was not coping. And for me, particularly, hatred for my own body (ridiculous right? I had just created another human being, yet I hated what I saw) was something that I could not shake.
I knew in becoming a mother that everything would change. I, of course, expected this. However, I never realised the extent to which my body would transform. Physically and emotionally everything was different and I was in no way prepared for that. I had lost my body to my daughter – it was no longer mine. She needed it and I gave it to her.
I became so lost in the changes my body had made that I quickly became embarrassed and depressed. It didn’t help that I was now 25kg heavier than my pre-baby body, or that I faced breastfeeding battles. I felt as though I had let myself down. I wasn’t healthy and I wasn’t feeding my baby properly. I hated everything I saw in the mirror and everything that my body would not do.
One day my husband encouraged me to get out and go for a walk. Not to worry about the baby but to do something for me. It was the first outing I had, without a child attached to me, in 12 weeks. It was this encouragement that lead me to take the important steps I needed to begin to look after ‘me’.
From then on, I made sure that no matter what, I made time for me. This was tough. However, even just half an hour of exercise a few days a week was better than nothing. And soon exercise became like a drug to me – it improved my self esteem, my emotional state and it helped me to be a better mother. It helped me to feel happy again and I was amazed at how happy my baby had become too. I joined a fitness studio, signed up to a 12 week challenge and created a food diary. I had to be disciplined. My main role as a mother forced me to be. I felt as though I had lost control of my life, and this new obsession helped me to gain something back.
Two years on, I now have another baby and I would not change a thing. I am now in the midst of dealing with this same emotional roller-coaster but this time, I am making time for me from the start. The best advice I can give to any mother is to make time for you. I know it’s hard! But, put down the washing, give the baby to your husband/mother/sister/neighbour, don’t vacuum that floor and just get moving. All of those monotonous chores will get done. Your physical and mental health is more important.
We give up our bodies when we become mothers but we shouldn’t have to give up who we are. After all, you need to be happy in order for your baby to be happy.
I know I’m not alone, join in the conversation and share your experience of ‘me time’.
And follow my fitness journey after the second bub on Instagram @fitmummadunn
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