I can all but guarantee that if you work your way through motherhood doing only what is best for your child, you will risk burning out. One of the hardest parts of the journey is finding balance between what is best for your baby and what is best for you, or at least not harming yourself in the process.
Some label certain mothers as having a martyr syndrome, where they give-give-give while sacrificing their needs. What we need to remember is that instinctively, something kicks in where we place the needs of our children before our own.
One would ask why someone would do something that’s detrimental to them, and it is because the natural motherhood instinct tends to override one’s own self-preservation that triggers in the short-term. We need to actively monitor and control this hierarchy of instincts that develops once we have children. If we are not working to be conscious and find ways to answer to our own needs (rest, nutrition, exercise, etc.) we may slowly but surely harm ourselves while our parenting instincts dominate.
You hear many sayings that point to the importance of self-care, such as to place the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others and “you can’t pour from an empty cup” but they only really sink in once you hit a point somewhere on your journey and you realize that the time to find balance is NOW (or better yet YESTERDAY!).
Often we don’t need to make changes until we know that we do. If it works, leave it be. When bedsharing and nursing all night isn’t bothering you, and it’s the best way that everyone sleeps well for your family – perfect. If and when you need to change your circumstances, you will know!
So how do we find balance during motherhood? I want every mother to know that their needs and wishes are just as important. And not, ‘ya ya I’ll take a bath at some point this week’ but truly knowing that putting yourself at least on par with all of the other important people in your life helps everyone.
On that note, my interest in sleep is genuine and personal. You can read here on Evolutionary Parenting’s blog, our journey in attempting to support our daughter’s sleep. The article includes "A Baker’s Dozen of Gentle Sleep Aid Attempts" because we felt we had tried everything. When we were struggling, I truly wish I had been presented with the process I am about to describe to you to have found more balance through those first few years.
As a sleep educator, unique philosophy takes a holistic BIG PICTURE approach that considers overall health and wellness of the whole family. This approach presents options for you to incorporate into your life to increase rest and well-being for everyone. I coach so others can consider the facts, the tools they have available, personal values, and the unique temperament of a child, and how to check in with their own intuition throughout the process.
Some tips to help you find your balance during motherhood are figuring out what exactly the problem is, analyze everything and what it is that needs to be changed, and ask yourself if it’s the right time for this change. Eventually, with appropriate follow through, you will be able to make change a success!
What we end up with is BALANCE. The balance of meeting your child’s needs while also meeting your own, and it is a beautiful thing.
Julia Nichol is a Postpartum Doula and Infant Sleep Educator at Intuition Parenting Support Services and a mother of two. She works to support parents in following their Intuition on their parenting journeys. She would love to hear from you about your journey!