TRANSITIONING FROM AN EMPTY CUP TO ONE THAT OVERFLOWS

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In the community of motherhood, there is a very strong emphasis on building a tribe and asking for help. Sharing of childcare duties, having adequate resources, and setting aside time for self-care are the essentials for mothers to feel supported and nourished. Yet in most cases, women report that they do not feel their needs are met. Simply put, asking for help can be challenging, and receiving help can be even harder. The way our "tribe" or "village" looks has changed over the years, but there are still some key figures which have stood the test of time. We need friends and family, and we need doctors and healers to help guide us along the rocky roads. I have worked with countless women on ways to feel more supported and nourished with great success. The biggest challenge I hear from patients is not knowing how to get started or what an overflowing cup even looks like. Having a woman-centered naturopathic doctor makes this overwhelming process transform to a positive solution. Without help or the opportunity to fill our cups, we enter the dangerous territory for burn out, also known as the empty cup. Along with the foundational cornerstones that are individually tailored to each of my patients, there are some essential lessons I learned during my own transition from an empty cup to one that overflowed. With gratitude and love, I share them with you below:

1. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN ADEQUATELY CARE FOR YOUR CHILD

Why we struggle with asking for help is different for everyone. For me, it has a lot to do with the attachment my son and I share. I am always by his side and every need he has is met by me. Therefore, for months and months I never left him with a babysitter. I barely even left him with his father. I started to come to the realization that I was perpetuating this concept that I was the only one that could take care of him. I needed to gently guide my son, my husband, and the others available to help around us to figure out a way to divide the cumbersome task of childrearing. I needed to open myself to the possibility of receiving, and also release some of my control.

2. IF YOU ARE CLEAR + ARTICULATE WITH YOUR NEEDS, THE UNIVERSE WILL PROVIDE

Receiving help was just as much of a challenge for me, mostly because I wasn't "asking" the right way. I kept proclaiming that I was overwhelmed and needed help, but I wasn't specific enough with myself, my community, or the universe. I didn't specify what help would look like, when I would need it, why, or from whom. After a long and heartfelt discussion with a girlfriend, we decided I needed a nanny. I wrote down exactly what I wanted: Someone who lived close by, who was familiar with my values/could appreciate my parenting decisions, that was affordable, had childcare experience, lots of flexibility, and could work days x, y, and z. Once I articulated exactly what I needed, the universe provided. About two weeks later I was in communication with a woman studying to become a naturopathic doctor, has experience in childcare, lives 1.5 blocks from my house, and has an open schedule that matches well with mine. Literally every box was checked. The lesson here was not only communication, but articulation. I needed to be clear in order to be heard and to receive. 

3. PRIORITIZE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES + RELEASE WHAT DOES NOT SERVE YOU

Once our new helper was on board, things started to become easier.  However, there was more work to be done in order to feel nourished. I needed to release some of the responsibilities I had taken on. I was cooking breakfast, packing lunches, preparing snacks, and cooking elaborate dinners in an effort to provide my family with healthy and exciting meals. This would swallow my entire day. Not to mention I was doing this all while tending to other household duties like cloth diapering, cleaning the house, walking the dog, etc. THEN on top of all that, taking care of our son and trying to run a successful medical practice. It was exhausting. I needed to trim the fat by dropping some tasks entirely. This eased some of the mama burn out mode I was in, but still my cup was not overflowing.

4. CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT + HANG WITH YOUR PEOPLE

Because I was trying to get so much done at home, I barely left my house. This affected my mood, and one of the biggest secrets to changing your mood is to change your environment. Once I relinquished some of the household duties, I had more time to get out of the house. My son and I started attending more mother's groups, discovering and playing in hidden parks, and frequenting museums. I started spending time with my favorite women, chatting, bonding, and helping get the oxytocin flowing for everyone. Women thrive off of this hormone of love, and my cup was continuing to fill. 

5. MAKE A REALISTIC TO-DO LIST

Although it felt good to be doing less, I was struggling with getting things done. My to-do list was spiraling out of control, and I was overwhelmed. Setting simple and effective goals or "to-do's" for each day would help me start to tick things off of my list. Writing things down on paper made my goals attainable. At the end of each day when I would see most things crossed off my list, the feeling of accomplishment was satiating.

6. STOP + BREATHE

When my son was a newborn, despite my hectic schedule, I still made it through the day with patience and grace. Then about 10 months later I found myself waking up angry and frustrated. My patience and grace missing. I was worn out, exhausted, and not my usual self. Step one was a properly prescribed homeopathic remedy. Step two was taking multiple breaks during the day to reboot. I lovingly named them my "smokeless smoking breaks", 3 minutes to just stop and breathe. The act of pausing and focusing on my breath worked wonders. Next I started to incorporate creative ways of centering myself during the longer breaks. I worked with essential oils, healing crystals, and a gratitude journal. My cup was almost full.

7. SELF-CARE IS PARAMOUNT

The wonders of self-care are astounding. Just a few hours away from clawing hands and endless requests can recharge your batteries in ways you didn't know were possible. Performing some small act of self-care either daily or weekly is a priority. A hot shower or a long soak in the tub might be all you need to feel human again, or you might need something more. A non-negotiable is valuing the gift of health. Working with your doctor to optimize your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual state is the ultimate act of self-care. As I approach my son's first birthday, and subsequently the one year mark of being a mother, I look back and see that I took very little time for myself but I always made sure my health was in order. To continue evolving and exploring the gift of self-care, I am committing to practicing a small act each day, and every Sunday doing something bigger. Each morning I will pull a card to help provide insight and guidance for my day while having a cup of tea. Pretty simple, right? On Sunday's, I will do something more luxurious, like sit in a sauna, get my hair cut, spend time writing in a coffee shop, or have a date with friends.

Every mother experiences burnout to one degree or another, but following these steps along with an individualized treatment plan can help you navigate some of the challenges. Your needs ebb and flow and also evolve. So too will your treatment plan, which is why it’s important to work closely with your doctor.

It is incredibly important to be honest with yourself when you ask if your cup is overflowing. Manifesting solutions are possible, you just need to be in the right hands to help bring it forth as reality. Your importance does not waiver whether you are a maiden, a pregnant woman, a new mother, or a seasoned mama.

No matter where you are on your transition from maiden to mother, let's work together and watch your cup fill and runneth over.