The art of self-care {after baby #2}.

"Sacrifice crosses a line into martyrdom when it's not balanced with self-care. Our kids don't need a martyr; they need a mother. A martyr gives up her life to the extent that she no longer exists – she loses who she is while taking care of everyone else. A mother cares for her family and cares for herself. She allows motherhood to expand her experiences and her understanding of herself. A mother models the art of self-care for her children when she pays attention to her need for rest, nutrition, and exercise. She shows them how to find a Friend who understands when she takes the time to pray and read God's Word. She strengthens their faith when they see her turn to God for answers to her own life. Following the example of Christ we can learn to sacrifice without losing ourselves along the way." ~ from Real Moms, Real Jesus by Jill Savage

Almost 4 months in, I'm finding what the "art of self-care" means with two children.  Awhile ago, I learned my lesson that self-care cannot fall by the wayside after having kids.  Sure, it's more difficult and maybe looks a lot different than it did before {say, a 5 minute shower with a baby in the Bumbo at your feet}.  But for me, it's non-negotiable to get in some self-care time however small, so I stay both sane and healthy.   The goal here isn't perfection, as if that were even possible.  A little goes a long way.

Here are some ways I've been practicing self-care lately...

  • Making time for reading and tea early in the morning.  It doesn't happen every morning and sometimes it's for only 15 minutes before the first little voice beckons me, but when I start my day this way, I feel much better.  Usually it's my beloved coconut milk latté and my Bible Study Fellowship notes, or just one of the books I'm currently reading.
  • Taking my vitamins.  I continued taking Evening Primrose Oil and Red Raspberry Leaf capsules for 3 months postpartum, and I feel like they kept my mood even keel for awhile.  Now I'm done with those and my regimen now includes Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women, Carlson's Vitamin D-3 drops, liquid iodine to support my thyroid (just 1 drop a day), and Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil blend.
  • Drinking lots of water.  An easy way to get in enough water?  This glass 2 gallon crock filled with naturally-flavored water to drink throughout the day.  There are few things more refreshing than cucumber lemon water - just slice a bunch of cucumbers thinly with a knife or mandoline, add some fresh squeezed lemon juice or lemon slices to ice water.  You could try all different kinds of flavors - add melon slices, berries, limes...Having it ready and in sight makes a difference.
  • Using my essential oils.  I've been building an arsenal of doTerra essential oils, and I use them practically everyday.   Here are some ways:
    • Wild Orange on the back of my neck for rejuvenation
    • Diffusing Balance, Purify, or Elevation in the air
    • Rubbing Lavender or Roman Chamomile on the back of my neck for relaxation
    • Inhaling, diffusing, or rubbing Clary Sage on my skin - love the scent of this oil, probably because it reminds me of Norah's birth.
    • Adding 3 drops of Lemon to my water (make sure to use a glass container).
    • Something I've been wanting to try: oil pulling with sesame oil and a drop of OnGuard.
  • Taking a shower.  Mmmkay, time to shift expectations.  Gone are the days of long, luxurious 30-minute showers that use all the hot water.  What's realistic now is a few minutes of hot water pouring down on me, but afterwards I'm clean and feel much better.  Most of the time, I'm rushing to dry off to pick up a crying baby or barely get my clean clothes on before someone wakes up, but it's a step in the right direction.
  • Getting dressed in "real" clothes.  Yoga pants are practically a uniform for moms of small children, amen?   I ain't ashamed to wear them.  However, I feel a bit better when I actually get dressed in something that resembles "real" clothes - lately I've been loving the Threads 4 Thought skirts you can get at Whole Foods along with a tank top.  I have 3 of them, and they're made of super comfy t-shirt material (I'm wearing the Hanover skirt as I type this).   And they're great for a postpartum mama who still can't fit into some of her "transition" clothes from the last pregnancy.
  • Eating well and often.  I've been trying to stick to healthy meats, tons of veggies, some fruit, and healthy fats, skipping the grains except for our Sunday suppers each weekend when I know I'll get to have noodles, homemade pasta or pizza or something deliciously carb-laden.  I just feel better physically and emotionally limiting/eliminating the grains, dairy, and refined sugars.  I've also been trying to have more healthy snacks around.  I recently tried Sara Snow's Energy Sustaining Breakfast Bars.  They're great to grab when you need a little snack, although I don't love the chewy texture from the chia seeds.  I'll probably use flax seeds next time.
  • Smoothies everyday.  We usually end up making a smoothie everyday in some form or fashion.  If it's a green smoothie day, it's a great way to get my 3-year-old to actually eat some greens.  Lately, I also add some Zija Prime90 protein powder.  I've tried so many different protein powders, and this is the best-tasting one I've ever had, hands down.  It's mostly protein from the amazing moringa plant.
  • Skin dry brushing.  This is my new favorite healthy habit.  Skin dry brushing is a simple, quick way to cleanse and get the lymphatic system moving.  I bought this Yerba Prima skin brush on Amazon and take about 3-5 minutes to brush my skin before I take a shower.  It feels so good, especially behind the knees for some reason (there are lymph nodes there, right?).  I feel totally rejuvenated afterwards, and my skin already feels softer and tighter.  This is a great tutorial on how to do it effectively.

And then there are those crazy days when you got in zero self-care, no matter how hard you try.  So you end up at "happy hour" at your friend's house at 5pm.  While your kids play together, you drink a glass of red wine and color unicorns and rainbows in your friend's kid's coloring book.  And that's okay too.