Self Care For Moms In Crisis

Monday, March 20, 2017

Last week was a rough one for me. I was diagnosed with postpartum OCD. To say that it rocked my world is an understatement.
For the days since, I have ridden the ferris wheel of "discovery day" - at the highest I feel relief and support and love, at my lowest, doubt and fear - going around and around again. In order to cope with the myriad of emotions, I pulled back, focused on the people in my inner circle, and rested. I realized doing this was a beautiful, sacred form of self care.

Ahhh. Self care. Its the hot idea in mama circles right now. "What are you doing to take care of YOU?", friends ask, eyes wide with concern. Pedicures and haircuts and yummy indulgences abound. I'm not about to tell you those things are wrong - they aren't. They are essential. They are a form of self care. But when your world gets turned upside down and you are grappling with circumstances out of your control and understanding, a coat of nail polish just doesn't do the trick.

Are you a mom in crisis?

If you have recently experienced any of the following, you may be a mom in crisis.
  • Unexpected job loss, either yours or your spouse's
  • Diagnosis of a chronic or acute illness like cancer, diabetes, infertility, mental illness, etc.(for you, your children, or someone close to you)
  • Death of a loved one
  • Miscarriage or infant loss 
  • Failed adoption match
  • Divorce (yours or someone close to you)
  • Traumatic event such as an accident 
  • Betrayal trauma
This is not a complete or all-inclusive list. Anything event that feels devastating, overwhelmingly sad or scary, or involves heavy change or closure in a chapter of your life has potential to be considered a crisis.

Self Care or Selfish?

One could argue that in the midst of these huge changes and circumstances, there is little or no room for taking time to yourself. Some moms may even feel guilty doing so, worrying that they are needed by others and can't afford or don't deserve a break.

The truth is, those people arguing that there is no time are right, but only to an extent. In my own experience, every crisis has lulls - things get kinda crazy at first with shock and action, but eventually things calm down, even if slightly. There is time waiting between doctor's appointments, waiting for surgery, waiting for the day of the funeral. After all is said and done, after you have done all you can do, there are quiet moments. Moments of wonder, of wait, maybe of the weight of worry. Honestly, you can fill these moments with whatever you want and I'll never judge you. But I always feel more hopeful and happier when I fill some of these moments with self care.

The only time self care is selfish is when it is "ex-tra" - extravagant (you're blowing your budget), excessive (its the only thing on your to-do list, every day), or exclusive (you're the only one who gets self-care opportunities). So as long as your self care isn't extra, you deserve and need it!

Five ways to take care of you

1. Talk to someone. There are two kinds of people you should be talking to: The first are your real-life cheerleaders. Talk to your spouse, your best friend, or your mom! Whomever it is in your life that offers positivity, love, support, and you feel awesome after talking to them, pick up the phone and talk to them. The second person (when applicable) is a counselor or therapist - a pro, with all the certifications, education, and resources to back them up. These people are absolutely essential in cases of trauma or mental health, but they are an incredible resource for anyone who needs help setting boundaries, working through tough times, or healing emotional wounds.

2. Eat something. I'm not talking about a giant slice of chocolate cake (I'm also not not talking about that either...). I'm talking about breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The post-workout protein bar or the mid-morning smoothie. Girl, I know sometimes eating is the last thing you want to think about, but please don't skip. Keep some granola bars and bottled water in your diaper bag so when you're out and the hunger hits, you have a quick, healthy solution. If you don't feel like eating but know you should, just try to eat whatever is easiest and sounds appetizing. That might mean you eat out every day for a week or month. You do what you gotta do, mama. I don't judge.

3. Take a shower and put on clean clothes. I'm not gonna lie to you - there have been times when I haven't showered for a week. I can feel the funk build. The best feeling in the world is a fresh shampoo and clean skin. Fresh clothes - whether its your comfiest sweats or your most bangin' t-shirt and jeans - are what makes the difference between sweaty, second-day hair #momlife and a glowing mom goddess. Maybe put on a little lip gloss or mascara if you're really feelin' up to it!

4. Escape. You've done everything you can do to help your crisis up to this point. Now you are ready to get away. Its time to watch a new movie or an old one you love. Read a comforting or engrossing book. Go on a date night or a girls night. Go shopping, visit a friend, or go on a weekend getaway. Pick the most accessible option for your circumstances and take a break!

5. Ask for and accept help. This is probably the hardest one on the list. Opening up to people, even just enough to let them know you need their help, requires a lot of strength and humility. It also requires being honest with yourself. If you can't take your kids with you to appointments, tell your friends. Having a hard time getting in the kitchen to cook? Call your church leaders and their service committee will organize some meals for you. If someone asks you "What can I do to help you?", have a few responses ready and BE BRAVE and be honest with them. Whatever your need is, just say. Believe that people will meet that need to their best capacity.

You got this, mama!

Okay! I want you to try some self care today or tomorrow. Pick one, two, or all five of the above and give yourself some love. And you know what? I don't know everything about self-care. Which is why I need YOU to tell me in the comments what your best crisis self-care solution is. You never know who you may help with your input!

© Channing B. Parker. Design by FCD.