Recently on #pndhour (Ran by @PNDandMe on TwitterWednesday’s 8pm GMT) we spoke about self care. Taking time for yourself is so important! I think if I had made a little more time for myself in the beginning it would have really helped. I found it very difficult to allow myself ‘Me Time’ I had opportunities, I just never took them. I felt guilty, like I was being selfish.
When I had my 1st child I gave up all my hobbies, I was a belly dancer for 7 years and I loved it. I was completely in love with everything about it, but mostly how it made me feel. I felt so confident and happy when I danced. When I was 11 weeks pregnant I had a threatened miscarriage while on my honeymoon, thankfully all was ok but I stopped dancing because I didn’t want to risk anything. I had every intention of going back to my troupe, but I had my daughter then anxiety and depression set in. I gave up my most favourite hobby, I also then started to avoid going out with my friends, I stopped doing anything that meant I would be separated from my daughter. Eventually depression stole all joy I felt from doing anything at all and I had no interest in anything I used to enjoy before.
I was constantly with my baby, I didn’t want to leave her, yet I still longed for me time. Conflicting emotions which were so confusing. I then had to give up my job which I really enjoyed because child care was so expensive. My husband and I decided that we would have to make a few sacrifices, live on his wage, and I would be a stay at home mum. At first I was pleased, I felt such anxiety at the prospect of leaving my daughter when I went back to work I was relieved I wouldn’t have to. But as the months went on I wished I could have worked even just one or two days a week to get some adult company and time as ‘Sarah’ not just mum/cleaner/cook! This all added to the loss of identity I felt when I became a mum.
I started to think of ways I could have me time at home, so I began taking up crafts and quickly fell in love with Jewellery making. I began selling pieces and the process of designing, making and selling kept me focused and I really enjoyed it. But as my daughter got older and demanded more attention I let this slip to the side and again I was back to no me time.
My mum kept offering to look after my children, but I just couldn’t agree. My anxiety got the better of me and I had a nagging voice in my head telling me I was a lazy mother if I let her look after them. It wasn’t until my eldest was 2 1/2 that I eventually agreed. But I was pregnant with my third and so exhausted that I welcomed the break. I had a whole afternoon to myself, I sat on the sofa, ate loads of chocolate and watched rubbish TV. It was bliss. And guess what – the kids were fine! They really enjoyed an afternoon with Nanny, and I could see how much my mum enjoyed having them. So I agreed that the next weekend they would stay over night, my husband and I couldn’t wait, a whole night of uninterrupted sleep! The kids loved it, my parents loved it, and so did we! Just time to catch up on TV, or watch a movie, have a nice dinner and chat. Little things which did us the world of good.
Now every half term my parents have the kids, and I look forward to having an evening of relaxing. My husband and I also now have a pact, one of us gets up with the kids on a Saturday and the other on a Sunday. That way we both have one lay in a week. Sleep is self care too! It’s taken a long time but I know it’s not selfish to take care of yourself. Everybody needs time to recharge. Taking time out for yourself can be any little things you enjoy doing, reading, crafts, writing, taking a long bath, or just sitting quietly and enjoying a cup of tea. Try and take 5/10 mins for yourself each day. If not then once a week. It’s not selfish it’s necessary, you are a person after all.
Lotus Petal Family Support is a peer support network based in Essex, UK. Aiming to provide, support, friendship and advice to help those suffering postnatal depression get the help they deserve. We are volunteering and working to raise awareness and help improve perinatal mental health services in Essex.
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