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I’m back! And different than ever.

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It’s been 13 weeks since our baby girl Penelope was born. We have a new human in our lives, and I am most definitely a new human.

While I’m not back to working full time (and not sure I ever will be, or at least not in the near future), I am back to writing.

If I’ve learned one thing over the last three months it’s that feeding myself so that I can feed my child is paramount, both literally and metaphorically.

If I’m not well fed, well nourished, and well rested, my body literally cannot make the milk my baby survives on.

And if my spirit is sapped, my cup is empty, and my wires are fried, I can’t be a very good mama to her. (You don’t need more than a handful of exhausted days when you can barely function, let alone be present with your baby, to teach you that.)

These days, self care looks more like a 10 minute shower than a day at the spa. I’ve learned to savor every moment of self care because it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity. {TWEET IT}

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Whether we’re nurturing a child, nurturing a relationship, nurturing a business, or a nurturing a creative project, taking care of our own needs has to be at the top of our list. I’ve heard this so many times before, but never has it been more apparent than when caring for a child whose life literally depends on my ability to care for not only her but myself as well.

But self care has levels, I’ve found. (This is my take on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.)

There are the basics like water, food, and sleep. And if those aren’t covered, nothing goes well. (And sleep with a new baby in the house is all relative. I used to think I needed 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep to function. Now I feel like a new woman if I get 3 and a half!)

Then there’s hygiene. Having space to floss and do my whole skin care regimen has taken on a new level of reverence for me in these months.

Next there’s exercise and getting outside. I’ve found these to be amazing cup fillers. (Plus they can be combined with getting the baby to sleep. Triple win!)

And then there’s creativity and taking care of your spirit and soul.

Body first. Spirit and soul next.

My writing practice fills my cup. As sleep is to my physical body, writing is to my soul.

I thought I would need 6 weeks off from regular blogging when the baby came. And then I realized I needed two months. And then I realized 12 weeks was what I really needed to get those physical things dialed in (or at least happening 4-5 days out of 7).

Having the space to be with my babe, be with my husband, and be with myself during this miraculous, crazy time has been such a huge gift.

I’m beyond grateful for my blog babysitters and for you, my community, for embracing them while I took a break to nourish my family and get my footing as a new mom.

After a three month hiatus, I’m so excited to be back with you. Getting a handle on sleep, eating, and basic hygiene superseded filling my creative cup. But now I’m ready for this next level of self care…and to be hanging out with you again.

Thanks for your feedback on what you want more of. We’re incorporating your desires into our 2016 plans. Feel free to go to the link and weigh in if you haven’t yet.

No matter what stage of life you’re in, get the basics down first. Are you eating? Are you drinking water? Are you sleeping?

Almost everything feels better after you’re hydrated, well fed, and have taken a nap. {TWEET IT]

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If so, are you moving your body and getting fresh air?

If you’ve got those handled, what are you doing to fill your creative cup? The cup of your soul?

Life gets really contracted when you have a baby. And the beauty of that is that there’s no more confusion about what really matters.

Body first. Soul and spirit next.

 

Over to You:

What are you doing to nourish yourself physically? What are you doing to nourish yourself creatively? I’d love to hear how you care for yourself in the comments below.

Photo Credit:  Bill Miles

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  • Sally says:

    Welcome back! You’ve been missed! :)

  • Andrea says:

    Love this article. As a Momma, we can easily let self-care fall to the wayside. When in fact, it is one of the most important aspects of being an even better Mother. As a Mum of two young boys, I have had to work hard to include self-care on a daily basis. Five minutes of meditation here, a 20 minute power nap there. A little bit when possible is nourishing and healing for our weary bodies and minds! It took me years to figure this out and you’re on it in 3 months. Well done Kate!! Enjoy your snuggles with lil P, she’s gorgeous.

  • Erika says:

    Oh, Kate, I wish I would have had this much wisdom as a first time mom. Oh, well I have it now and can you affirm it’s all true from experience :) I loved the way you prioritize body before soul. I’m realizing I’ve had the two switched lately; waking up to meditate than write, draw or paint until the kids rise. Yippee says my soul, uhuh says my body. Maybe that’s why my computer paused for the cause… so water, food, sleep and movement could move up on this list. So glad you’re back!

  • Heidi says:

    Love this. All of it. Welcome back. ????#momsaresuperheroes

  • Linda says:

    Welcome back to your writing life, Kate. Congratulations on your beautiful Penelope. Your words hit home. I have what I call my “morning trinity”, a self care practice. These are 3 promises I keep for myself: 1. meditation, 2. Tai Chi, and 3. a walk in nature. After that, I make sure that I get some drawing and painting in each day. If I don’t do these things I lose touch with my very soul. The best thing I ever did for myself when my 3 sons were young was to hire a responsible teenager who was our neighbor. She watched my boys upstairs every Saturday morning for 2 hours while I painted downstairs in my studio. It felt like an extravagance because money was tight back then. But it was a necessity – otherwise I would have had a complete meltdown!

  • Paula says:

    I was in your spot 22 years ago…seems as though the times of comforting the wee one are still very much present in my life. Even though she’s hundreds of miles away, she continues to require my determined attention, soothing nurturing words, emphatic support, and murmurs of love.

    The greatest challenge, I find, is to choose when to step in with cash, offer words of advice, or allow my “child” to strengthen her strokes of overcoming issues solo.

    I check in with my Self, look to see if I am vying to be the Heroine or seeking satisfaction of being needed, versus the knowing – she simply needs an empathetic ear.

    Thanks for your ever-wise words, Kate!

    And WELCOME BACK!!

    Cheers!
    Paula

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Such a dance – when to intervene and when to help others learn for themselves. I know I have a lifetime of this lesson to learn with Little P!

  • Sandra says:

    Nice article. I’m glad you’re back and to hear that you’re enjoying being a mommy.
    Bendiciones.

  • Gabby says:

    Self care is totally paramount. Mom of two kids, 5 & 1, I can usually tell when I am burning the candle at both ends and can reel it back in before it’s out of hand. Other times, it’s stress beyond my control (two kids sick with a headcold/cough for 3-4 weeks) that completely wears a Momma down…then you get nailed. Headcold. Stuck in bed. So exhausted you are physically ill. It seems my cup reaches E every 4 months where I end up with a day off of work while one kid is at the sitters, the other stretching her brain in school and I am completely zonked in bed…for what felt like 20 minutes but was actually 4-5 hours. :/ May you never burn the candle to closely on both ends and the sickies stay at bay. Glad to have you back!

  • Tanna says:

    Good for you Kate! Although I don’t have kids, I am my mother’s full-time caregiver so I have to make my self-care a priority for all the reasons you stated with Little P. And right now I am totally feeling the effects of overindulging in various forms of holiday cheer…time to take care of my body again! Thanks for the great reminder that self-care is not a luxury, but a necessity. Welcome back!

  • Vicki says:

    Thank you Kate! While I don’t have children your words still resonated with me. I work as a Pastry Cook in a café which has just relaunched. When we started 6 weeks ago we had a Head Chef (who resigned two weeks ago). A Sous Chef (backpacker who left to continue travels). For the last 6 days I have started at 5am and finished at 5.30pm. Wow, baking and full food service – I have been like a zombie. I have to take notice of your words! x

  • Savannah says:

    Having grown up a compulsive people pleaser – I have spent much of my life at the bottom of the all the lists I had…whilst obsessing over the fact that people needed to look after themselves. Ahhhh, we so often do what we need most :) !! It amuses me now when I think about it :)

    Over time ( the last 20 years) I have finally figured that out. What can I say I’m a slow learner on some things but a very through applier once I get it.

    Kate you are soooo spot on, the ‘great achievements’ in life, like raising a child, or just getting through the hour, come from the smallest quietest places in ourselves and the simplest actions.

    Over the years I have come to call these small actions on the road to greatness ‘sparkling* habits’ cos they make me glow from the inside out they can be taking a shower or bath for me is top on that list…or having a litre of water before I do anything else in my day so I start hydrated….or a short daily negotiable meditation…..to a few short lines of gratitude.
    They all keep me feeling sparkly.

    I always LOVE to be reminded of such a valuable point. Thank you :D

  • Rose Candela says:

    These words touch my heart and soul so deeply. As a mom-to-be I find that nourishing myself is not something that I can ignore AT ALL. What a great gift that this journey has carved into it’s plan, right? I also find my NO train to obligations a bit easier to get a ticket to now that I am in touch with what my body/soul/spirit needs. Congratulations on all your path, and I’m really excited to read more of your reflection. You are a gift!

  • Kait says:

    <3 thank you for sharing. I hope you and Penelope and your fam unit as a whole are doing well!

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