I’ve been listening to you . . .
and one thing I hear over and over is the struggle for self-care on the gentle parenting path.
With Mother’s Day on the horizon, this is the perfect time to reflect and invest in ourselves as mothers.
So if you’ve ever had even the smallest sense of depletion or losing of yourself, the next 7 days are going to rock your world.
Day 1: Identity
I don’t want you to be the victim of your own life.
Let that really sink in for a minute.
I want you to be the author of your own story.
When you are completely devoted to the growing and nurturing of babies, part of that surrender is getting a little (or a lot) lost in your own self. This isn’t bad. It can feel scary, but it’s part of the process of being reborn as a mother. The cocooning of the babymooning 4th trimester is very much like a cocoon in that you can enter it as a caterpillar and emerge as a butterfly – same soul but evolved for the better.
The maternal metamorphosis.
A caterpillar who cocoons and fights that beautiful transformation, clinging desperately to its former state can never reach its potential and is sadly doomed to an endless fight that will always lead to disappointment and a sense of failure.
“I’m not going to lose myself in motherhood.”
“I’m going to get my body back.”
“My marriage won’t change.”
Allow yourself to get lost. Then find yourself anew.
In the immortal words of the Borg and Heraclitus, “Resistance is futile,” because, “Change is the only constant.”
So with the question, “Who am I?” at the forefront of our minds and the exciting journey of self-discovery on the horizon, we continue tomorrow with finding and honoring your temperament.
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. Being a mother is something absolutely new to her . . . And, with each child, she is born anew.”
Day 2: Temperament
What is your frequency? Where, when, and how do you hum?
We talk a lot about honoring your child’s natural temperament here in the Sage Parenting tribe. Today I want to talk about honoring yours.
Let’s talk about people. We all have a right-for-us balance of connection with our concentric circles of support: family, extended family & close friends, groups, community, world.
What is your ideal balance?
How can you better integrate your connection-with-others needs with your children’s?
Me: Full time family, family friends (mamas I cherish with kids mine adore) once a week, group/community interaction once a week, meet new people traveling once a season, stay connected with online tribe once daily.
What do you feel called by joy to spend your time doing?
You don’t need to nail down the specific path for the next 50 years of your life here. Just meditate on the “what” or the content of your days that makes you smile. It’s less about specifics and more about style.
How can you better integrate your content needs with your children’s?
Me: Family adventure, creative and purposeful work, unhurried home relaxation.
When are you most inspired and spirited? When are you most restful?
We all have a natural flow and rhythm and while I help parents do a lot of discovery work identifying this in their children, now is the time to identify this in yourself.
How can you better integrate your natural rhythm with your children’s?
Me: Late mornings, active afternoons, late nights.
Where is your joy hiding?
I want you to really expand your horizons here and visualize all the places in the world that make your heart flutter with excitement or coziness.
How can you better integrate your joyful geography with your children’s?
Me: Traveling to new adventures and experiences, nature, home.
What is the natural way of your best self? What is your authentic vibe?
This one might seem too abstract at first but bear with me here. I know on my worst days I feel like saying, “Who was that?” Have you ever felt that way or had that thought? I’m inviting you to get ahead of it and get clear on the qualities and characteristics you want to embody.
How can you better integrate your authentic vibe with your children’s?
Me: Peaceful, playful, affectionate, loving, creative, open with a balance of laughing, conversing, and quiet and movement and stillness.
What temperament have you fallen into? –> What is your natural temperament? –> How are you going to support your authentic self?
Tomorrow we extend this journey of self-care to our partnerships/marriages (which is an FAQ I’m often addressing with an uncommon answer).
Day 3: Co-Parent
You might be thinking, “Wait, why are we talking about my husband? This challenge is all about SELF care.”
I’ll explain . . .
When my children discuss their potential future relationships with me I always encourage them to partner with someone who (1) they love AND (2) helps them to be their best selves. My husband is this person for me. I nurture my relationship with him and it yields exponential dividends for my self-care. In loving me and helping me to be my best self, he holds space for my self-care and often even directly facilitates it.
So in a self-care challenge, it behooves us to shine a light on this relationship.
(Even if you don’t have a romantic partner (we have some seriously rad sage single mamas), you do have someone or someones (I’m making that a word now) in your life who help support you on your journey in some capacity. Move through this day of the challenge in the context of nurturing that or those relationships).
Remember in day 1 how we talked about the mistake many people make trying to cling to who they were instead of embracing the natural evolution of life (especially into parenthood)? This is particularly true for your marriage. You are not going to connect in the same way you did. If one of you is committed to staying the same while the other is evolving at light speed the future is not bright. The path to connection is not in the past. Your connection cannot look exactly the same because you do not look exactly the same. The geography of your heart, mind, body, and soul have fundamentally shifted like tectonics plates on a molten core of maternal love. This is a good thing. This is a natural thing. This is sometimes a scary thing, especially for someone trying desperately to hold onto your hand while Pangea shifts.
So, what’s the secret? To evolve together.
Share your thoughts
As you are piecing together your fresh identity, invite your partner in. Share your excitement and fear. Share your pride and confusion. Share your hopes and dreams. Witness and validate theirs in turn. I’m telling you to talk.
Need a formula? Share something – Ask a question – listen with an open mind – respond – repeat.
(Ahem, notice Earth Papas that there is no problem-solving step in this formula. You’re not brainstorming solutions, you’re attuning your wave lengths. Need something more concrete? Don’t try to fix it. Just respond with, “I hear you. That sounds ___ (hard, interesting, etc.). Believe it or not, a solution ends the conversation. No one is right. No one is wrong. You don’t have to have answers. The goal here is just to keep that connection open and flowing.)
Me: Some of our best conversations happen on long drives but sometimes they happen while doing yard work with the boys bike riding all around us.
Responsibilities grow as you transition into parenthood such that it’s laughable how difficult you thought life was before you had kids. I’m just gonna take a minute to have a chuckle about that. The point being, responsibilities grow. Are you both rising to meet those increased responsibilities together?
I work with a lot of women who do everything until they are over spent and depleted. This is a cycle that you choose for your family by taking up all the domestic space. You can lean back, holding space for your partner to step into fatherhood and domestic partnership with loving and respectful expectation.
Being a “good” mother and wife and “successful” woman doesn’t mean doing it all. It never did. It never will.
So sometimes self-care looks like trusting someone else with some of those balls you are constantly juggling (ya, I see them up there even right now while you are reading this).
There is the systemic sharing of responsibility and then also acute. One of my favorite things my husband says to me is, “How can I help you?” in moments of overwhelm. Solid gold.
It might sound silly but just laughing together is hugely beneficial for your relationship. And science backs this shit up!
Laugh together. Laugh often.
A shared sense of humor gives you the power to genuinely enjoy (in + joy) your life together. If you can’t have fun together, what’s the point? My husband and I can laugh through both the mundane moments and while choking down the shit sandwiches life serves up.
Try to keep the perspective that your life is a story you will tell one day. Write it with humor.
You know what else science tells us laughing does? Makes us happy, more satisfied, and healthier! Hello self-care.
While I don’t subscribe to the mainstream mantra that you must spend time as a dyad apart from your children to continue to exist as a couple, I do believe that one important ingredient for connection is togetherness. All that connection juju I’ve spent years telling you about your connection with your children? The spirit of that carries over here too. Be together.
Me: As I type this we are lying in bed and I am leaning on my husband as he watches skateboard videos on social media. We like being together and the more time we spend together, the more that is true.
I have to be honest, sometimes even just being in loving connection with someone who doesn’t need me to care for them feels like self-care.
If we look at marital satisfaction across the lifespan there is a drastic plunge when you first have kids (I would extend this same phenomenon to all relationships outside the mother-baby dyad). I remember this bothering me when I first learned about it in grad school but now with my view from the other side, I no longer feel that way. I now understand how life has seasons and in different seasons you have a shifted focus. You have to make room in your heart and life for the expanded love of motherhood. This is natural. This is normal. This is healthy.
Know what else that graphed line showed? That relationships satisfaction steadily climbed from that point on. Think about what that means for a minute. It’s all up from here!
The moral of this story is to be patient with each other and your relationship.
Me: My youngest is now 5 and my husband and I are having so much fun living out our dreams together.
A note that relates to all of the above: What a powerful gift you are giving your children in role modeling all of the this!
Next up: Self-care for your brain. Let’s not let it atrophy.
Day 4: Brain
“I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write . . . and you know it’s a funny thing about housecleaning . . . it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectability) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she “should” be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.”
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves
A mother’s brain is a powerhouse of creative inspiration and innovation. It’s not something to be set on a high shelf until the children are older. It is something you can flex right now while you’re living, loving, and learning together.
This natural learning I so often share with you these days is not a way to educate my children – it’s a lifestyle. Just as we collaborate with our children around self-directed and experiential learning, we too are included in that lifelong process. I reach for growth every day.
Do you? Your brain craves it, even if you have ignored it so long that it is quiet.
What do you want to experience? What do you want to learn? What do you want to see in a new way?
Take the first steps to begin that process right now.
Me: My focus in this season of life is family travel to expand my horizons through new experiences. I’m also devouring nonfiction books.
You have a story to tell. How will you tell it?
Are you an artist, writer, gardener, photographer, theoretical mathematician? What form does your creativity take? Allow inspiration to move through you and create!
“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner-continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you-is a fine art, in and of itself.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Me: Writing (obviously) is my main jam. There is a creative fire that burns inside me and grows until I get it out on (virtual) paper. I’m also presently playing with photography as I document the legacy of my family’s life together living, loving, and learning (primarily on Instagram). A lifelong interest in interior design has culminated in my design of our house that we tore down to the studs (and farther in some places) and have rebuilt (which we affectionately call The Lighthouse).
Living with a purpose greater than yourself gives life deep meaning and extends your reach so much greater than your grasp.
Of course, you contribute to making the world a better place by parenting in the way we do. This in and of itself is powerful magic. And I’m willing to bet that you have more special gifts you can share with others.
This brain work is legacy work. It has value. I want to see your story ladies. So will your children. Let’s redefine Mommy Brain.
Me: You’re in my contribution right now! My Sage Parenting work guiding families to a path of connection, freedom, and joy is a mission that comes from deep in my core.
Tomorrow, it’s all about that body.
Day 5: Body
Your body is a physical representation of all the internal growth that has occurred throughout your mothering journey. Society will try to devalue that metamorphosis (and pressure you to revert). I call bullshit. I challenge you to celebrate that evolution and honor your body with gratitude and loving care.
“I am not afraid of my truth and I will not omit pieces of me to make you more comfortable.”
You know I’m all about shared sleep and meeting your little one’s needs. And rest (Rested and Connected is the subtitle of my Sage Sleep book, after all).
You need restorative rest woven into the tapestry of your lifestyle.
When I say “rest,” we’re all thinking sleep. And it’s true – we do need sleep. But rest is so much more than just that. Incorporating rest is a slowing down of your body, mind, and life – get unbusy.
From what, where and when do you emerge feeling rejuvenated?
Mama bears are loving yet fierce (my maternal spirit animal).
Mothers are strong. Yet it often takes a tragedy for them to see it. I’ll let you in on a little secret: you need not wait until you survive burning in a figurative fire to tap into that strength. It’s there in good times too. One way to tap that wellspring of strength, speed, and agility is to invite powerful movement into your life.
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
Flex your muscles. Run fast. Jump high. Dance – oh dance your heart out.
What movement speaks to your body?
What you put in your mouth is the fuel for the brain and the body. Feeding yourself is an act of love.
An innumerable number of ailments are symptoms of a lack of self-love through poor nutrition (and poor self-care across the board) just as behavioral symptoms in your children calls attention to their unmet needs.
Me: I’m going to be honest (because that’s how I roll) and share that this is where I have the most room for improvement. I am learning and shifting toward small nutrient rich foods on the front end of my day. Smoothies are my favorite so I’m starting there.
Where will you start?
There is no other singular piece of self-care that has the same identity affirming power as your closet.
It might seem like such a silly thing compared to your brain, body, and relationships but it’s actually paramount. Your wardrobe is the version of yourself that you project out into the world. It is the visual definition of who you are.
Now, I actually don’t give a rat’s ass if others approve of who I choose to be. But if the person I see reflected back to me in the mirror is inconsistent with the me I get to know and work to love, that discordance can be soul-crushing.
Remember when we talked about being a victim of a life you inherited? The same applies here.
Your self-expression must be a conscious cultivation that reflects who you are today with comfort and confidence.
Your wardrobe should affirm the answer to the question “Who are you?,” eliciting a smile every time you catch a glimpse of yourself in a reflection.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
George Bernard Shaw
BIG MAGIC is coming to walk you through this. I’m so excited for tomorrow!!!
Day 6: Minimalist Wardrobe
Are you a little depressed when you look in the mirror, feeling sloppy and unpretty?
Are you overwhelmed and stressed by the contents of your closet and dresser?
Do you ever stand in front of a packed closet and say, “I don’t have anything to wear”?
Have you spent years devoting your body to the growth, nurturing, and care of little ones and now you feel you’ve lost your sense of your body in clothes and sense of style?
Are you ready to let go of who you were and embrace the greatness of who you are?
Are you ready to stop being a victim of the wardrobe you fell into and start consciously cultivating a platform of authentic shininess with full intention?
- Simplify your closet (removing stimulation overload and decision paralysis)
- Build the pillars of your capsule wardrobe (map out your specific needs)
- Find your singular shining pieces (1 from each category that brings you the most joy)
- Duplicate the essentials (and edit for coordination)
Get dressed with ease (free up more time), project your inner glow outward for the world to see (look beautiful), and feel comfortable and confident every single day!
Join us for the Minimalist Wardrobe class for $75, which includes:
- Webinar: participate in the annual live streamed and interactive Mother’s Day webinar on Saturday at 12 noon PST or watch the recorded version anytime
- eBook: 30 pretty pages of perspective-shifting, inspirational, instructional awesomeness
- Tribe: admission into the exclusive Sage Family Facebook Tribe for long term community support
THIS IS YOUR MOTHER’S DAY GIFT TO YOURSELF.