I chatted with the beautiful Bek, a qualified nutritionist and wellbeing coach,
all about self-care for mums. Because, self care is something
we all know we should be doing, but we rarely make the time for.
Bek gives us her best tips and tricks, and has a little special Mother's Day bonus for you all.
To talk about self-care, we probably need to begin with ‘self-neglect’ – what do you find most new mums are struggling with the most when they contact you?
Great question! This has actually been at the forefront of my mind lately. The theme that seems to be consistent across my clients is perfectionism. The need to do everything perfectly, and even when we think we’re not doing it perfectly, we still worry about that instead of just being kind to ourselves and letting it go, or lowering our standards. I always go with the motto that “done is better than perfect”.
I also find that most Mums are really looking for permission to put themselves first, If self-care to you is spending an hour on the couch at night binge watching Netflix with your partner, then lady, you go for it!! I find, a lot of us worry about what we think we “should” be doing with our alone time, instead of what we “want” to do.
I know myself, I found that there were SO many things I was meant to prioritise as a new mum, that I felt overwhelmed – is this a standard thing? How do you help mum’s break down their self-care?
It ABSOLUTELY is a standard thing! there is sooo much information out there on the interwebs that can be so overwhelming it will have you curled up in the foetal position wondering where the hell to start!
So I have 2 top tips to get you started.
#1 Is to find/create a “sacred” space in your home that is just for you! This is so important for everyone, but particularly for mums with young children. Our bodies and space are pretty much extensions to our children in their eyes. They usually like to be with us and on us for much of the day. Mums need a special place of their own where they can replenish their vessel. Even if this is your bedroom for half an hour that has a lock on it, maybe some calm music and a nice candle with a scent to help calm the mind. Just by retreating to this space once a day and practice some deep breathing, or just to lay with your eyes closed is a great way to ground yourself in the midst of chaos.
#2 Take some time to really evaluate what is important to you. What are your non-negotiables? Just by grabbing some pen and paper and free writing can actually help identify things that perhaps you weren’t even aware of.
Start off by focusing on a few of those things that are important to you, not what you think “should” be important. For me, it’s sleep. It has been the bane of my existence as a mother, and the crux of my issues with PND. But, it wasn’t as simple as getting a solid 12 hours of sleep at night. So I had to get strategies. For me, I had no mental capacity to focus on any other self-care strategies, until I got the sleep deprivation sorted. And that’s ok.
For Mum’s that are ready to prioritise themselves, but may be a little unsure of how/where to start, I have developed a free guide called Self Care Strategies For Busy Mum’s that is available for download over on my website! https://www.rebeccahawker.com.au/self-care-for-busy-mums/
You’re also a nutritionist, which plays a HUGE part in self care. What’s your advice to women, especially with newborns, who want to get back into good eating habits?
Be kind to yourself. First and foremost.
I’m all about the gentle approach. Restrictions and Diets are not my jam, nor are they sustainable. So, I recommend starting with the basics. A simple, but sustainable meal plan that is also family friendly (particularly if you have other children). This is easier said than done, I get it, I’ve been there. That’s why I offer Nutritional consultations and packages for Mums at any stage of their parenting journey that can help take the stress out of food and nutrition. Head over to my website for more info https://www.rebeccahawker.com.au/services/nutritional-services/
For mums with newborns, I suggest investing in a delivered meal service (if your funds allow). This was a life saver for me, particularly when I was not in a mindset to properly plan out meals in advance, let alone write out a simple grocery list.
I trialled a number of different options, and once I found one that we liked I continued for a few months until I got back into some form of normality. They delivered the ingredients directly to my door each week. All we had to do was choose a recipe card and cook the meal. It’s amazing how just by taking out this one task from my day, actually alleviated a lot of stress for me.
I also have a blog article with 5 quick tips that you can include in you weekly meal prepping that will help to improve your diet over time.
Any favourite foods for that ‘quick snack’ – I feel like I lived on Coke (I don’t do coffee) and chocolate….
I wanted to be that Mum that always had a delicious smoothie in hand whilst breast feeding or taking them to the park, but either the blender was too loud and would wake up a sleeping baby or scare a sensitive toddler and his crying would then wake the baby. It just wasn't going to work for me.
These are some of my go to snacks at the moment:
- Apple slices with a smear of good quality peanut butter (the protein in the peanut butter will help keep you fuller for longer). This is my go to when I'm in a rush, or sleep deprived etc. The apple, also has a hit of caffeine and will give you that pick me up.
- I love to make up a quick batch of these choc tahini energy bars from Jessica Sepels second book. They’re actually really delicious, and super easy to whip up if you have a food processor. They also keep really well in the fridge for up to 5 days. Find the recipe here https://www.rebeccahawker.com.au/recipes/choc-tahini-energy-bars/
- Bliss balls. I’m all about these babies, they're sooo “on trend” and #instaworthy. All of
that aside, I just love how easy they are to make, store and feed to the kids. They feel naughty, but they’re totally not (unless you eat like 10 in a row). They are the perfect mid arvo, or mid morning snack if you're craving something sweet. And, so many flavour combos to try. If you’re not up for making your own bliss balls, then I have found an inexpensive supermarket brand that are great to have in your handbag or beside the bed for easy access during feeding times...
- These Tasti smooshed wholefood balls, are excellent, especially when they're on special. I look for products that have a small ingredients list where I can recognise each of the ingredients. And these wholefood balls consist of just 5 ingredients. You just need to be mindful of portion size, just stick to 2-3 balls as a snack.
You’ve been through PND yourself, how much harder is it to look after yourself, while dealing with mental health issues?
Sooo much harder. It’s mostly a blur to me now, but I really struggled to think clearly, I felt as though there was a constant fog around me for a very long time. I struggled to make basic decisions during the day, like what to eat. If my family asked me what they could do to help, I couldn't even answer that. It was very hard to make sense of the world at the time.
Although I’m a Nutritionist, and whole heartedly believe that, “Food is thy medicine”, in my situation at that time, I just couldn’t make effective decisions regarding my Nutrition until my mood shifted.
Initially, I was put onto medication and went through some intense psychotherapy. It wasn't long until my mind became more clearer, and I could actually start to lean on my knowledge of Nutrition, and the tools learned from my counselling sessions and start putting into action some strategies to look after myself and start the healing process.
If you could give any mum just one piece of advice, what would it be?
The best piece of advice I have been given, is that it takes a village. And it honestly, honestly does.
Don’t feel guilty for wanting/needing help. It’s totally ok, and in fact completely normal, to need help when raising children. After my second was born, I relied heavily on my own Mum. I know I am so incredibly lucky to have the support of my family, my Mum was at my house almost every day. Entertaining my toddler, doing washing, cleaning, doing dishes, cooking etc. My mum would do whatever she could, whenever she could. In addition, I also invested in a cleaner each fortnight. There are some really affordable cleaners out there if you shop around.
I am completely unapologetic about the help that I had and still do have. Even my husband, he is so incredibly supportive and shares the load of parenting.
Even though I had the most support I could ever wish for as a new Mum, I still fell victim to PND. Even though I arm myself with as much village people to help me in my parenting journey, there are still times when I’m absolutely bone achingly exhausted and feel like I have a million tabs open in my brain. It’s ok to feel like this, now I just make sure I process my emotions appropriately, and try my hardest to put steps in place to prevent the burn out.
To find out more about Bek, check out her -
website // facebook // instagram
And that special bonus? Click here to join her Mindful May program for free!