With a newborn in the house, it’s hard to remember which end is up. Let alone remember that you, as the mother, are supposed to be taking care of yourself so that you can be at your best for your little one. In the fog of new motherhood – and new working motherhood – I certainly couldn’t remember the concept of self-care. Heck, my kiddos are older now and I still forget.
I’m delighted to be joined today by Betsy May, working mama and founder of Your Nurturing Nook, who has developed a beautiful new idea (a whole month’s worth of self-care cards designed specifically for new moms) that serve to REMIND new mamas to do that important self-care. I met Betsy May through Shawn Fink’s fabulous Abundant Mama program, and she and I share a passion in making the transition to motherhood – and working motherhood – somewhat less daunting.
Here’s my interview with Betsy:
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your family – where you live, your kids, etc.
A: I live in Southeastern Pennsylvania, with my husband (a fifth grade teacher), and I work full-time helping victims of crime. My daughter, Meadow Alexandra, is 6 ½, and our cat “Sissy” is 10 years old.
Q: What’s your returning-to-work-after-maternity-leave story?
A: Returning to work was really hard for me. Meadow was a very difficult, colicky baby. We had timed it that my maternity leave would end when my husband’s summer break would start. Well, as fate would have it, it was right when summer break started and Meadow was about 5 months old that she was finally on a schedule and was sleeping better (we realized she had a milk allergy). I ended up taking another month off just to be with the whole family.
Q: What is Your Nurturing Nook, and what inspired you to create it?
A: Motherhood is my true passion in life. It’s wonderful, but also hard, tiring, and at times lonely. Your Nurturing Nook is a haven for mamas to relax and find self-care ideas and support. It’s a sanctuary where moms can stop in at the end of the day for some encouragement and inspiration. I want to help moms find more space in their days, so they can live a life filled with beauty, joy, and happy memories.
Q: What gave you the idea for self-care cards, and what are they exactly?
A: Prior to having my daughter, I had become a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, apprenticed with herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, studied aromatherapy with Jeanne Rose, and became a registered yoga teacher. I should have had the ultimate self-care toolkit at my fingertips.
But when I had Meadow, I fell head-first into despair, overwhelm, and some serious postpartum depression. I was a sleep-deprived zombie, with a fussy, colicky baby. To make matters worse, I felt that I had failed at breastfeeding, which was something I desperately wanted to do.
I deeply mourned my old life and dreamed of the day when I would finally experience the bills of getting a full-night’s sleep.
I was frustrated that I had so many tools for heathy living and dealing with stress, yet I was unable to perform even the simplest task, such as brushing my teeth. Life felt like it was spinning out of control.
There were two things that got me through the days back then: using my aromatherapy body scrub at night in the shower, and the sight of my cat at the foot of my bed in the evening. Seriously. We all know the benefits of aromatherapy. And, well, with my cat, I think it was the one thing from my “old life” that still remained a constant. It was a calming sort of comfort to see her curled up in a tiny little ball, just waiting for me to come to bed.
Six years later, I have never felt more peace and contentment with being a mom. But it’s been a long road.
Once I was treated for postpartum depression and Meadow started getting older, things started to click. It was as if the lens finally refocused. I began weaving my past teachings into motherhood. I was overwhelmed with ideas that I could have implemented during the postpartum period – things that would have made so much difference.
The ideas just kept flowing, and sometimes I couldn’t stop writing, they were coming so fast. I became consumed with the thought of sharing these ideas with other moms, stretching out a hand to help guide them along and help them know they are not alone.
The idea I ran with was to create a deck of beautiful self-care cards.
There are 30 cards – one for each day of the month. They contain tangible ideas to help make the postpartum period more calm and peaceful. They are simple, yet comforting ideas to guide moms through the busy days. (Most of the cards actually could apply to any season of motherhood, not just the baby years.)
The ideas on these cards are designed to be practices that you can do that don’t take much time (only a few minutes) and that don’t require you to go purchase anything. These are not cards that say things like “go get a massage” or “treat yourself to a haircut.” They are practical things you can do at home, on a daily basis, to take care of you.
The cards offer simple and loving ideas on how to:
- Create pockets of time to take care of yourself;
- Feel uplifted;
- Make your home a haven;
- Feel hopeful;
- Find a sense of balance;
- Nurture yourself;
- Feel replenished; and
- Gain a sense of calm amidst the chaos.
Q: If you had to pick one favorite card of the deck, which one would it be and why?
A: That’s a hard question! They are all near and dear to my heart. But, if I really had to pick, I think I’d say it’s one of the simplest ones: the permission slip to let someone else take care of your baby and take a nap. For some reason, I could never ask for a break, even with my husband.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do to take care of *you*, mama?
A: I love trying to make my house – and especially my bedroom – a peaceful little retreat where I can relax. I made a faux fireplace with candles in it, and I use the mantel for an altar. I keep incense, crystals, a special little statute, and a few other things that are really meaningful to me on it. I have a Himalayan salt lamp (they emit a gorgeous soft orange glow) on my night stand, with my night time lavender spray. And I bought this gorgeous duvet cover made by one of my favorite artists that simply says “Breathe,” in beautiful letters.
I also go on a retreat every year with my best friend. We go to an off-the-grid cabin with a sauna for three blissful days. In fact, by the time you are reading this, I will actually probably be on that retreat!
And, I still use that aromatherapy scrub.
Q: How can readers get the cards if they are interested?
A: The purchase site is here. The cards are $9.99, and you will have immediate access to them in a PDF format. You will also receive them in an e-book format, with the 30 messages organized as daily readings.
How do you remember to take time for yourself, mama? And once you’ve remembered, what are your favorite ways to do self-care? Please post here in comments.
Need support heading back to work after maternity leave? Join the next session of Mindful Return!