I spotted a fascinating article on goop.com about new term for this age-old situation – “postnatal depletion”. It’s written by Oscar Serrallach, a doctor from New Zealand, who specialises in postnatal and nutritional health for mothers.
Serrallach describes postnatal depletion as “common phenomenon of fatigue and exhaustion combined with a feeling of ‘baby brain.’ Baby Brain is a term that encompasses the symptoms of poor concentration, poor memory, and emotional lability…where one’s emotions change up and down much more easily than they would have in the past, e.g. ‘crying for no reason.’ There is often a feeling of isolation, vulnerability, and of not feeling ‘good enough.'”
And it can last for up to ten years!
Postnatal depletion describes the state that many of us find ourselves in – whether you are a mum in business, employed full time or a stay at home mum – it’s that general, nagging exhaustion, the feeling of spreading ourselves too thinly, no time for exercise or looking after ourselves or getting out to see friends.
All too often mums spend a lot of time and energy on creating healthy menus for their kids, while cutting corners on their own meals or resorting to snacks on the run.
The cornerstone of all of this is not creating the time to focus on yourself. Always putting the kids and the family first and not looking after yourself – physically, nutritionally, mentally, emotionally and practically.
So these are the five ways that you can avoid that being depleted and feeling zapped of your energy and spark:
- Get moving – you don’t have to plan out complex workouts (unless you have a personal trainer!), you just need to get moving. Start with 10 minutes a day. A walk round the block, taking the long way back to the carpark after the school run, 10 minutes of yoga stretches in your living room once the kids are in bed. Do it regularly and you will start a new, positive habit that you can increase over time.
- Eat well – it’s simple really, apply the same passion for providing your kids with as balanced diet to yourself. I know I got into the habit of making a nutritious lunch for my little girl while eating a plain bagel every day. So make things that you can both enjoy that are part of a balanced diet (with a few treats thrown in) and your energy levels will improve.
- Have time to be you – whether this is 15 minutes in the bath with a book (yes, you really can if you decide to), getting out to an exercise or evening class, having some coaching sessions to refocus on your needs and identity, playing an instrument, turning up the radio when your favourite tune comes on and singing, doing crafts etc. Reconnect with who you are and what gets you motivated.
- Connect with people – and not just on social media! Although time is divided up in more ways now, look at how you spend your time and make a couple of simple changes. So pick one night a week when you’d usually flop in front of the TV, switch it off, make an easy meal and sit at the table with your partner and actually talk. Plan a day out or a meet up with friends, DIY, the garden, films you want to get on DVD, anything, so long as you’re connecting and sharing. The same goes for your friends. Invite a friend to your exercise class and go for a drink after, arrange a time to call an old friend (after kids bedtime and before you crash on the sofa!).
- Delegate or ask for help – this is one of the main things I talk to my clients about. Not being superwoman – or superman! We are only human and we do not have to live up to some magazine ideal of a supermum. So do a little audit of all the jobs that you do and other people in your household do and see where you can make some changes. Start with little changes, like asking your partner to take responsibility for one extra task every week. Then that will hopefully become a new habit. If your kids are old enough, get them to help with tasks that they will be motivated to do, or offer an incentive. And if you can afford it, see what help you can get for your home or work that will take some of the most draining jobs off your list and free up your time and energy.
The key here is making little changes and trying them for a while, then adding another one or making a slightly bigger change. It’s about creating new, positive habits that will give you more time, more energy and a more replenished you. And that’s the kind of mum we all want to have – and to be!
If you have a story about how having kids has left you depleted or if you have any tips to share with others, then feel free to leave a comment below.
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If you still find yourself feeling depleted and overwhelmed and need a helping had to get clear and focused to make some of these changes, then why not give me a call and book a free discovery session to find out how my All About Mum coaching sessions can help you get back on track.