14th July 2011
Taking care of yourself By Rosalie Ajzensztejn
It seems obvious, but being a new parent is such a whirlwind of new experiences, responsibilities, and a never ending list of things to get through, that chronic fatigue is a fact of life. Caring for yourself is not what you tend to put high on your priority list. Add an extra child or two and it may seem as if you barely function, except of course for holding everything and everyone together.
We have children because we desperately want to love and enjoy them and bring them up to be independent young adults who will, you hope, fulfil their potential.
In the everyday rush of doing the numerous things we need to do, we sometimes forget to just enjoy and appreciate each other as we are so busy getting through our “To Do” list.
I want to stress just how relevant this is. It is the old glass half empty or half full scenario.
If you feel drained and pressurised, it is hard if not almost impossible, to run on an empty battery. You need to take care of yourself in order to function but also in order to enjoy what you are doing. One of the best things you can give your child or children, is the example of you having fun and taking care of yourself.
It is really hard to laugh or smile when you feel exhausted. Our children thrive on our smiles and hugs and respond and co-operate so much more easily to a calm parent.
I am not talking about caring for yourself to the detriment of your children. All this entails, is simply fitting into the day some small action that will replenish you. The payoff apart from you feeling reinvigorated is that your children can see that it is fun to be an adult and not all doom, gloom and duty. They will look forwards to becoming an adult. How is that for a positive role model?
So what do I mean about caring for yourself or replenishing ourselves?
I am not advocating expensive weekends to exclusive spas, welcome though they may be, but more the very simple things which make a huge difference to our sense of wellbeing.
I asked several parents what they felt constituted taking care of themselves and these are some of the responses.
Sleep. It is really hard to get enough sleep especially with a new born baby but one tip is to take a rest or short sleep when your child sleeps rather than doing housework. It could be a ten minute nap when and where the opportunity presents itself.
A meal out with your partner. The ideal is a “weekly date” with your partner. If it is impossible to get a babysitter it could be a date at home but make a pact with your partner that the topics for conversation should not include children or work. A little flirtation goes a long way, so do whatever takes your fancy. It could be a candlelit dinner, wearing something special, anything that you can think of, that adds to your date. It will be really positive for your children, as they grow older, to see that you still enjoy each other’s company. If finance makes getting a babysitter difficult, make an arrangement with a friend to take turns to babysit for each other. Babysitting circles are another alternative. Grandparents and other close relatives may feel really pleased to be asked to babysit and enjoy the involvement.
Any treat that works for you. Going out for a meal or for a coffee and croissant. Anything that gives you a little space for yourself. Some parents said that being ’home alone’ even for 30 minutes was wonderful.
One parent told me she actually enjoys cleaning out a cupboard as she gets such a sense of achievement from it. My treat to me is to persuade her to clean my cupboards.
I have been known on occasion to de-stress by vigorously washing the kitchen floor.
A chat with a friend featured in many responses. It really can just be a ten minute chat on the phone or a get together over a coffee even while the children play together.
Other sources of replenishment included walking, swimming, gardening, doing the crossword, listening to music, reading a book, newspaper or an article of interest, running, knitting, attending a pilates or yoga class and in some cases meditating. In short, anything which helps you feel good about yourself.
Taking care of yourself cannot be overestimated.
Do it for yourself, for your partner and for your children. It is not a selfish thing to do. It is precisely the opposite and it is vital to actually take the time to recharge your batteries so that you enjoy what you are doing.
Parenting is not for wimps. It is tough, challenging, often exhausting but can be immensely rewarding so please take care of yourselves.
You deserve it.
6th September 2010
You’re Pregnant! By Emma Bloom
You’ve wee’d on a stick and discovered that yes, you’re actually pregnant. Maybe you planned it, maybe it’s taken you by surprise but now you have to deal with the reality. There’s no right way to feel; some people feel elated, others shocked. For some motherhood begins at that blue line, for others those maternal feelings may not appear until the baby is born or in fact well beyond that. But how do you cope with this enormous, momentous thing that’s occurring inside you?
First, you decide who to tell, if anyone. Your partner is probably the first to know and it may be a little nerve-wracking coming clean – even to him. Then it’s time to cope with those first few weeks of pregnancy changes, sore boobs, possible sickness, exhaustion, doubt, fear and excitement – all while having to pretend that there isn’t an incredible life-altering, miracle growing inside.
For some early pregnancy is a tricky time with so many questions that need answering, from what to eat to what to wear. It can be worrying as you hope that the baby is ok. You may feel that you need your family and friends’ support and for work to back off and give you some slack. Friends may get a little suspicious as you ask for a coke instead of your usual wine and you may feel self-conscious about your expanding waistline. What you most want to do is shout ‘I’m pregnant, go easy on me!’ but it’s generally a time of secretiveness which can make you feel a little lonely.
So what are the next steps? It’s worth contacting your GP early in pregnancy so they can book you into the NHS system. Then you can look forward to that much anticipated 12 week scan and begin thinking about screening options. It’s a good idea to research your local hospitals and choose the one you want to attend even if it isn’t suggested by your GP – you can always change your mind later on. Now would also be a good time to think about the possibility of a home birth if that’s what you fancy.
It’s also a good time to think about antenatal classes which provide invaluable information, support and a group of friends in the same situation. Luckily the JCC is running classes from January onwards and we would love you join us on your journey to parenthood.
B’sha Tovah and try to enjoy the remarkable, unique feeling of life growing inside you.
Emma Bloom is an NCT-trained antenatal teacher who will be running our JCC antenatal classes, beginning in 2011. For more information on these, contact us.