Nourishing A Season of Motherhood
Nature has bestowed women with its best gift of motherhood which is the biggest contribution of women to humankind or society. (Rout, 2016) This gift of motherhood also comes along with a mother and child bond. This special bond is developed during the early stages of life while mothers breastfeed and hold their new babies. The bond continues as the child looks to the mother for security and social relationship development. A healthy mother and child relationship is necessary for the child to build a healthy personality and form healthy relations with others. (Sahin, 2014)
Today more women face the challenges and stress from working in the home and having a career and various added stress from the pandemic. At the same time, more evidence shows how a mother’s experience of stress during pregnancy and the perinatal period can impact a child’s overall health and development. One study currently underway, the Coronavirus-19 and Perinatal Experience (COPE) Study, examines the economic, social, and medical impacts that women are experiencing and the effect of those experiences on the mothers’ mental health.
The Initial data from a multiracial cohort of more than 800 expectant or new mothers in the New York City area suggests that the crisis has significantly affected women’s lives. Interestingly, seventy-five percent reported that what they missed most was in-person contact.
Self Care- The Way of Thriving
If you’re reading this article, you’re most likely a mother or hopeful to be a mother in the future. Thus, you understand the stress that was present before the pandemic and how it has greatly increased feelings and situations of stress for some. Mother’s often put themselves very last on the list during times of stress, taking care of the needs of all of those around them. The first step in managing the stress and finding your place of thriving once again may very well be your own self-care.
Practices and Rituals
- Starting your day – mornings can be a trade-off, extra sleep, or more self-care. Creating a routine with your morning can help you start your day off at your best. What helps you feel most ready to start your day, perhaps its solitude with a cup of coffee, journaling, exercise, or having extra time to get ready and organized. Whatever it is for you, layout a plan that gives you a little extra time for YOU.
- Taking time for yourself – carving out an hour or two per week to do something you love will help you feel like your needs matter as well. It can become easy to feel resentful when we’re pouring from an empty cup. Take time to read the novel, go to the yoga class or have a meal out at your favorite restaurant.
- Mediation – regular meditation can actually help rewire our brain for relaxation and calm. Of course, you can utilize breathing techniques and meditation during high stress, but more regular use will get you better results. Try doing belling breathing while you’re falling asleep or first thing upon waking. Two minutes of meditation before the next Zoom meeting or at the end of the workday can be other transition times where meditation can be supportive.
- Exercise– we’ll keep this simple. Exercise is one if not the best thing we can do to support our mood. Create a schedule and stick to it no matter what! It doesn’t have to be a full 30 minutes; it could be 10 minutes every day to help you start. You will benefit.
- Massage, acupuncture, and other therapies– these manual therapies help you feel so relaxed and can release bottled-up tension carried in headaches and neck and shoulder pain. Schedule one per month or quarter, or more! Notice the difference in how you feel and how you sleep after a session.
- Sleep– we won’t thrive without quality sleep that’s long enough for us to feel restored. In fact, during times of high stress, we often need even more sleep to recover physically. The best strategy when you’ve got a family is to go to bed early. Parents often burn the midnight oil after taking time for the children’s bedtime. Ensure at minimum 7 hours but preferable more. PS. Alcohol decreases sleep quality.
- Get help– sometimes the best thing to do is ask a family member, friend, or hire help. Invite the neighbor kid to walk the dog or hire a mother’s helper so you get XYZ done. Do this early, too often we wait so long to get help and only wish we’d done it sooner.
- Plan for meals- last-minute meal prep can cause a lot of necessary stress and delay, often impacting schedules and reducing food quality. You don’t have to plan out a whole week, but you can plan the day in the morning or sometime during your day, so you’re ready when it’s time to eat. Make it simple and use the resources you need to reduce stress and pressure.
- Consume protein and deeply nourishing foods- don’t skip meals or have “fake food” for your meals. Sure, you’re taking time to organize your kid’s lunch box and make sure everyone has what they need; remember to add yourself to that list and eat food that makes you feel good and strong. Women are more easily depleted than men due to menses, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. In a short time, we can start to feel very run down if the foods not providing enough.
- Take time to slow down and eat- Your lunchtime matters. Remember to pause for eating. You don’t have to work through lunch or eat standing in the kitchen. You deserve to have a nice spot at the table too.
- Use all your senses while you’re eating- you’ll reduce your stress hormones, be less likely to overeat, and connect with food and body if you slow down to savor with all your sense your meal.
Supporting a Thriving Family
One of the most important gifts parents can give to their children is a strong sense of structure and routine. Below you’ll find a few suggestions to help make life run more smoothly in the home and support the children to feel safe and balanced. A 2021 study found that in families employing more routines, rates of child depressive symptoms are lower, and increases in conduct problems during the pandemic less likely. (Glynn 2021).
- Family dinner together– did you ever hear the quote “ families that eat together stay together”? Having a least one meal together creates a strong sense of stability and unity. It is a great time to check in with everyone and get a sense of what the various members are doing. Plus, it can be fun, relaxing, and a place of great memories for years to come.
- Chores and household care schedule– who does what and when, make a flow chart, and appreciate everyone’s efforts. Make sure if your kids are old enough, you include them.
- Organized family time– Friday night is game night, and Saturday afternoons always include a bike ride to the park. Make fun a part of the routine too. The children and adults will look forward to this special time.
- Consistent schedule for children upon waking– is every morning different. Kids thrive when they know what to expect and when to expect it. Mornings are no different. Is it off to the races or slow to rise at your home? Either way, the children will thrive if they know what’s going to happen.
- Rout, N. (2016). Role of women in ancient India. Available from: http://magazines.odisha. gov.in/Orissareview/2016/Jan/engpdf/ 43-48.pdf.
- Sahin, T. F. (2014). Mother-child relation and factors affecting this relation. Int. J. Science Culture and Sport 2: 1-10.
- Glynn, L. (2021). A predictable home environment may protect child mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Neurobiology of Stress. V14