When you become a parent, it sometimes feels like you’ll never be fully rested again, that you’ll keep struggling along, barely kept upright by an endless supply of coffee, until your kids are all out of the house. But it’s important to your mental and physical health to get some rest. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to obtain, of course. The easy answer is “you make time” but sometimes we need a little nudge or extra support in order to make that happen.
Ideas for rest
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. Yes, yes, we know, you hear this all the time and it can be especially unhelpful to hear at times, especially if said baby will only sleep on your chest and you don’t feel safe nodding off yourself. But sometimes what you need to hear is that it’s OK to sleep when the baby sleeps instead of cleaning or cooking or working out or whatever else you think is more important than you getting some rest.
- Request and accept help. Let someone else (a partner, a friend, a family member) watch your children for a little while and take a nap. It can be hard both to ask for help and accept it, but it’s important. It’s also OK if your baby misses you while you nap; you’ll be a better parent and better able to meet her needs after you get a little rest. Don’t be afraid to leave a “please also help me with” list out on the counter either!
- Consider other perspectives on sleep. Your children haven’t read the parenting books you have and they are determined to follow their own plan. If you were against bed-sharing but find that it works better for your baby, that’s okay. If you swore you would never do any sleep training but then decide to try it and find it helps you get more sleep, that’s okay too! No one sleep method works for all kids.
- Get a break from hands-on parenting. Sometimes the rest you need is just a break from being the Feature Presentation all the time. Put the baby in a carrier, older kids in a wagon, and go outside. Put on a movie. Go to a playground. Do whatever works for your kids that takes a bit of the hands-on parenting pressure off you!
- Schedule it! Literally, get out your phone and schedule a reminder for some rest. Get a hotel room and take a long hot uninterrupted shower, and sleep. Go to a coffee shop and read quietly, take a walk by yourself, or whatever works the best for you to recharge! Even if you can only schedule in 5-10 minutes a day, start there and work up to 30-60 minutes.
Self-care is an important aspect of parenting. It is important to realize that you cannot be at your best if you don’t take care of yourself, but we all know that isn’t easy. Powering through it until you can no longer stand it isn’t a great long term solution. There are many forms of self-care. Of course, one of our favorites is postpartum doulas! We want you to remember that putting your needs first, as a parent, is not selfish. A postpartum doula can help you
Reach out. Change things up. Get a postpartum doula.