This morning I had some time set aside to get on my mat and record my practice in order to showcase the kinds of things I might share in my Mindful Movement + Massage workshop on Saturday. My little buddy had other plans, though…
In the first days and weeks after having baby number two, my husband would get up with our toddler each day when she woke around 6:30am so I could snooze for a bit longer with baby. Once consciousness hit though, I found myself reaching for my phone to mindlessly scroll Facebook or the NY Times before getting out of bed. Frequently I was grumpy. I am not a morning person and I don’t drink caffeine.
As my mood continued to spiral out of control, a part of me was like, ‘Hey Jen, get it together. You have to get a handle on this.’ I decided to write some affirmations for myself or set an intention each morning before indulging in a mindless scroll. After a few minutes of social media, I would check back with the affirmations or intention I wrote before getting out of bed.
When creating these affirmations, I would first call up a negative emotion or challenging experience I had been working with. Then I would act as my own best friend/skilled therapist and say what I needed to hear. For example, feelings of isolation and loneliness prompted me to write I feel connected to a sacred network or mothers.
This self care practice helped me to start the day in a positive, intentional way. When I set my attitude on the right course before even getting out of bed, it echoes throughout the rest of my day. I’ve noticed an improved outlook and ability to handle each day’s stresses.
15 Affirmations for Your Postpartum Self
- I see beauty in this chaos.
- This too shall pass.
- I savor the sweet moments of this challenging season.
- My patience overflows.
- I feel content doing less.
- Striving for perfection robs me of beauty, meaning, and growth.
- I take time to be creative.
- I feel connected to a sacred network of mothers.
- I am confident in my choices.
- I trust my intuition.
- When my baby cries, I breathe deeply and stay calm.
- Everything I did today was enough.
- I choose nourishing foods for myself so I have clear energy to care for my baby.
- My ability to love my baby even in hard times is a powerful gift.
- I take time to care for myself.
I hope you’ll find these affirmations helpful. I should also add that these affirmations can work for all kinds of situations – not just those related to postpartum difficulties. What affirmations are you working with right now?
Today I went to my first yoga class in probably a year. That’s pretty bad considering I’m a yoga teacher.
I haven’t been intentional about making time to attend a yoga class for several reasons:
The classes available at the times I regularly have childcare haven’t really worked with my schedule…although they could have if I had planned in advance to attend and blocked off my calendar.
- Many of the classes available at the times I regularly have childcare don’t really appeal to my pregnant bod (i.e. Toasty Core Strength Vinyasa)…although I’m sure I would have enjoyed Yoga for 50+.
- After my first pregnancy, I noticed sub-optimal changes in my core after attending a yoga class. I didn’t know how to engage my transverse abdominis so all the planking and boat poses were setting me back instead of helping me strengthen.
- Reinforcements (my husband) arrive home too late for me to make it to an evening class. But there are later classes that I could make.
- But then I’d have to miss putting my toddler to bed on another evening (I’m already gone two nights a week).
So those have been my excuses. I imagine that with two kiddos at home, there will be even more excuses. (Please note that I’m not saying these are merely whiney-pants excuses; they are valid logistical complications that require a certain amount of energy and planning to overcome).
I’ve been telling myself that maintaining my home yoga practice is the same thing as going to a class. Wrong!
At home, I either do yoga while my toddler is awake and playing, or I put her in front of a 20-30 minute TV program (mom guilt), or she is taking a nap and could wake up at any moment. I can never really fully devote 100% of my focus toward myself in these situations.
In addition, I’m missing out on the community-building aspect of going to a class, the inspiration an instructor can provide, and the challenge I’m sure to avoid affording myself at home.
Back to this class I went to on Saturday. I wasn’t planning on going but I was a grade A grumpoose that morning and really struggling emotionally. After already telling my daughter we were all hanging out together that day, I informed her I was going to take a yoga class. (Saturdays are literally the only day a week when all three of us can be together for the day.) When it came time to leave she started to cry and told my husband, “I’m upset that Mama’s leaving.” Dagger to the heart with a twist.
I was headed to prenatal yoga. I went every week when I was pregnant with my daughter. I’m 34 weeks pregnant with my son and this is my first prenatal class. It was a welcome opportunity to connect with baby boy in a way I hadn’t allowed myself to so far.
As a yoga instructor, I’ve developed this kind of judgmental voice in my head when taking another teacher’s class. It can be difficult to turn down the volume of that voice and just be present in the class like any other student. Sometimes the voice is telling me that a particular instruction might not be best for where my body is at (which is a helpful thing to listen to!) but other times the voice can be snarky, critical, or kind of like Larry David. I’m not proud of it but that’s the truth. Perhaps if I start going to more classes, I’ll get more practice quieting that voice.
Despite my mental high horse, I enjoyed myself. The room was full of that pregnant mama juju and we all were having hot flashes. We laughed and shared in the beginning and I was thankful and amazed that the hip work we did ended up feeling so nice (not too deep or destabilizing).
After class, I headed down the street to a local cafe, Wild Love Bakehouse, and struggled to decide between a classic chocolate chip cookie or a chocolate chocolate chip cookie with sea salt. So I bought both. I ate half of each one and headed home to make lunch.
My time away didn’t fix any of the problems that surfaced in my household that morning, nor did it really change the fact that I was mad or grumpy. But it did give me a ‘time in’ for myself so I could press pause on the drama and get out of that triggered mental space. I think that brief distance was valuable.
How do you find time for a movement practice when you have young children? Do you schedule mornings away for yourself? What strategies do you use to take care of yourself at home in the midst of a challenging situation?
An Open Letter to the Person Who Will Use the Restroom After Us:
I saw you approaching the single occupancy restroom just as my one year old escaped to crawl down the hall. I avoided eye contact, clumsily gathered all our things and power-walked down the hall. I hung my head as your judgments went flying overhead along with all the fucks I already gave, just knowing that your opinion of me would further decline upon entering that desecrated place.
Our trip to the bathroom started with a diaper change (the baby’s, not mine) which further necessitated a full outfit overhaul. Terrified of diaper changes in public restrooms, my child shrieked the whole time, my shaky hands working as quickly as possible. This would be her fifth outfit of the day; I was still wearing the same clothes which told tales of previous leaky diapers and spit up.
Then it was my turn to pee. Let me just say, that was my baby’s saliva on the toilet seat and not my urine. I still have my dignity (and my aim). As soon as I sat down, she began investigating the trash. Multiple efforts to redirect failed until I pointed out the toilet paper. You’ll find two distinct piles, one roll completely undone and one ripped like confetti. Once she had taken advantage of all the toilet paper had to offer, she moved on to the toilet itself. So then, I sat upon the throne while Her Tiny Highness sat upon me in order to prevent her from eating the plunger or sticking her tongue between the toilet seat and the bowl. Her interest in the toilet paper was rekindled a few moments later. A small part of me dies every time she watches me wipe (because, let’s face it, this has happened before).
I had to keep her contained as I pulled up my pants one-handed. I placated myself as I washed both our hands, one at a time, however there would be no hand drying. The ripping of the paper towel echoes like machine gun fire, inciting all manner of tears, screams, and boo boo lips – as does the roaring fly by of the flushing toilet. So yes, I let it mellow, and yes you’ll feel the moist door handle as you exit.
I hope you relish your private potty time. Enjoy the stillness, the solitude, the relative quiet. Build your toilet paper teepee in peace. Wash (and dry) your hands methodically. Think of me kindly as you clutch the door knob in your paper towel then turn around to score a basket as you leave with satisfaction.
I wanted to share some of the poses that helped me survive my first year of motherhood. When I say survive, I mean survive. In the midst of crashing hormonal changes and trying to ‘figure out’ this whole other human, my goal was just to meet our (mine and Nugget’s) basic needs. These poses helped me stay as sane as possible during that sweet yet tumultuous time.