I recently took a two-hour nap in the middle of the afternoon right after I put my two year-old down for her nap and my son was at a basketball game. The house was quiet, the mood chill, and despite a very long to-do list on my counter, I gave myself permission to power down.
I woke up semi delirious and deeply content. It felt so good to nap, a right in most cultures, but in my world nothing short of a luxury. An over-achiever like most of the women I know, I thought that somehow by napping on this very unique day, that I had “bought” extra time that I could apply to work that evening. To my surprise, I was yawning by 9:30pm! I was shocked! I had taken that beautiful nap, wasn’t I supposed to gain more time? Right then, I realized how deeply tired I am. How deeply tired we ALL are.
Reality check: I’m a mom of two, an entrepreneur, an author touring my book…no wonder I’m tired! And how many days can I really squeeze in a two-hour nap?
And I know you’re really feeling me on the topic of exhaustion, pregnant mamas! I remember thinking when i was pregnant with baby 2 that I would use my son’s nap time to be productive–it ended up being MY nap time! Between my own work, running after my then toddler son, and keeping up with our home, i was completely spent. Pregnancy isn’t exactly invigorating!
So how can we, as busy mamas and mamas-to-be, harness practices and tools that boost us up on the regular, even if we can’t take a luxurious nap? How do we combat the harsh realities of a culture that expects us to be incredibly productive, steadily connected, while appearing clear and confident while doing it?
I believe self-care and love is the key during pregnancy, and while those concepts are big and sometimes hard to befriend, they manifest in actions we take every single day. We can, in the tiniest of ways, fuel ourselves. We need to find daily ways to tap into ourselves so we can produce and parent with joy. And when we use these tools, we can listen more easily to our inner voice, the voice that says, I simply MUST nap…and every once in a while, you give in and treat yourself.
Here are some personal practices that kept me energized and fueled while pregnant- they really do make a profound difference especially when done on a daily basis:
- Eat For Energy. Grabbing dry cereal, croissants and coffee will leave you feeling empty and deficient. Ground yourself with healthy proteins and fats as often as possible (eggs, avocados and nut butters are my go-to’s) and eat the colors of the rainbow (gravitate toward the fruits and veggies that are in season). I notice a massive difference in my energy if I’m nutritionally fueled. If that feels very foreign to you, consider working with a nutritionist or turning to a food delivery service with healthy eating in mind.
- Ground yourself through rest or meditation. When I feel exhausted I feel like my feet aren’t on the ground. So get your feet on the ground mama! Five to ten minutes of lying down on the couch with your eyes closed can give you a tiny boost. I’m a huge fan of HeadSpace, a meditation app that gives you short meditations of your choice but allow you to stay aware of your time. You really do feel refreshed after a brief rest or meditation and it can get you through the day, even when you feel like falling on your face.
- Move! I can’t tell you after how many sleepless nights I have dragged my tired self to a workout class in the morning. But then the magic happens: good music, positive hormones, and oftentimes other women who give you that needed hug and vote of confidence (this too shall pass mama). For me, movement is medicine.
- Do something fun! Sounds so simple, but when you’re on the rotation of kids, work, LIFE….we can forget that we need some joy. And that joy lifts us up, makes us bright, wakes us up! Go to a museum, get drinks with your girlfriends, go see a play to remind you of how much talent is in the world. Inspiration breeds activation!
- Get good at saying NO. Over committed mamas are always victim to the addiction to saying yes. We don’t want to let anyone down, particularly our own kids! But where can you say no when you need to? Where can you grab that extra hour to yourself? When can you ask for help so that you gain a little extra time for rest and rejuvenation? I bet that if you really study your daily flow and commitments, there are things you can drop, tasks that someone else can own, a moment when you can say, mom needs some rest right now, I’ll come out of the bedroom in 20 minutes.