In November I started a mini interview series all about caring for ourselves while caring for our kids. As a new mom, I’m interested in seeing how other moms navigate self-care. Because it’s funny how when you need self-care the most—parenting, of course, can get overwhelming—may be when you’re least able to provide it.
Today, I’m sharing the last interview in the series. This one is with Parijat Deshpande, a clinically trained therapist and expert in high-risk pregnancy. Parijat has a 3-year-old son (who actually has the same birthday as my daughter). Below, Parijat shares what self-care means to her and what’s been essential in practicing self-care.
Q: What does self-care consist of for you? In other words, I’m wondering how you approach self-care and what that might entail.
A: Self-care for me starts with listening to my body. I tune into what my body is telling me and what it needs more of. If it’s more sleep, then I make it a point to have a couple of days where I go to bed early. If it’s more water, a good laugh, time with friends, a break from life, I pay attention to it and then I prioritize it and do it either that day or within a few days.
Q: How do you navigate the challenge of caring for your kids (and others) while caring for yourself?
A: I’ve learned to ask for help. I realized that the friends I looked up to who seemed more rested, happier, more at peace or more satisfied with their lives all had help. So they had time throughout the week or month to take care of themselves. So I remind myself that by asking for help, I am a much better mom to my kiddo.
Q: What kind of help do you ask for?
A: I ask for help watching my son so I can get out of the house to exercise or run errands or so my husband and I can go out once in a while just the two of us. I ask for help with cooking to help me keep up with my son’s very high-calorie diet.
Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know about self-care and motherhood?
A: Just like how airlines tell you to put on your oxygen mask first before helping anyone else (including your child), the same applies in real life. It doesn’t have to be anything big, fancy or expensive. But replenishing your mind, body and soul is how you can take better care of your loved ones.
Parijat Deshpande is the leading high-risk pregnancy expert who educates and guides women on how to manage their stress and anxiety so they can have healthier pregnancies, decrease their risk of preterm birth and give their baby a healthy start to life. Parijat is a clinically trained therapist, a women’s wellness expert and sought-after speaker on the impact of stress on health and wellness. She has over 4 years of experience as a Psychology Lecturer at UC Berkeley and is the founder of MySahana, a South Asian mental heath nonprofit. Parijat a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and is also a certified wellness coach, a certified stress management coach and a certified marriage educator. Learn more about Parijat and her work at http://www.parijatdeshpande.com.
What challenges do you face when practicing self-care as a parent? What’s been helpful (or not so helpful) for you? How do you replenish your mind, body and soul?