There's so much information and advice flying around isn't there?
Here's the advice that i wish I had taken when I was impressionable and easy to be influenced, but also sleep deprived, breastfeeding and living in a small world that was the couch and the twin's bedroom. STOP TAKING ADVICE FROM SINGLE MEN!! Personal trainers, chiropractors, nutritionists, motivational coaches, authors. All of them. They don't have the first clue what you are going through. Not the first clue. Their advice is literally going to bring you to tears. Get to the gym, it'll get you more energy. Nope. The 5am club. Nope. Drop carbs. Nope. Just do it. Nope.
It seems sooooo obvious to me now, but honestly, at the time, there was so much of it, and I couldn't see that it wasn't for me in my stage of life. I thought I was making excuses. Sigh. And and bless my young little, heart, I would have rather died than make an excuse. I had all these ideas before I had kids about things that I was not going to complain about and things that I was not going to let go, and the fact is, I just had no idea, and I was wrong.
I have not met one single man who can truly empathize with what it's like to care for another human being 24/7. I don't think its malicious, it's just not possible. While they are trying their best to pull out advice about how you can eat better, move better, sleep better and be healthier, they just don't get how their advice of take half an hour here to food prep and get up before the baby and move while the baby sleeps just leads to frustration, and feelings of tears and inadequacy.
Now that I've told you to take no single man's advice, I'm going to tell you something lovely that a single man told me, ha, that stopped me in my tracks. I was upset because I just couldn't seem to wake up before the babies because let's face it, I was up all night with them. And I was being hard on myself and having little to no self-compassion and saying something along the lines of, 'I'm just making excuses'. And he looked at me and said, 'Sarah, that's not an excuse, that's a reason.' I was shell-shocked. I was expecting him to help me find some way that I was wasting time, or some way that I could do something different - because that's always the advice right? It's not that you could possibly be legitimately overwhelmed, it must be that you are wasting time and ineffective in some way. But no, he was offering me a way to look at myself and my life with compassion. And honestly, 9 years ago - that wasn't trendy yet.
THAT'S NOT AN EXCUSE, ITS A REASON. Sigh. What a shift. So it made me wonder, what is the difference between an excuse and a reason? Well, turns out, that's a huge philisophical debate, so google it if you want to, but there's no real conclusion. The discussion seems to be mostly around intent, authority, responsibility and control. For me, the better question is, is it loving, kind and does it make me feel better about myself tomorrow and next week?
Postpartum is a time to take really good care of our mental health and to ask others to help us take care or ourselves, and to even ask them to take care of us. This can look like saying things like, "I'm not going to go to the gym today because a walk in nature feels more nourishing today.' "I'm not going to come to said event because my mother is law is going to come over so I can have a nap instead", 'I'm not going to join the 5am club, or even the 6am or 7am club, because that is not in line with my goals of keeping myself and my baby alive and healthy', "I'm not going to start a 30 day clean eating challenge because I don't want to and its not a good idea for me right now", "I'm not going to challenge myself to compete in Crossfit right now, because my body actually needs rest and sleep and more gentle movement.
More often than not, it seems that we are trying to prove ourselves. And for what? For whose approval? Please check to make sure it is not men, and especially a man with no kids.
I've had a few conversations over the years with men who I used to take advice from, who have since become fathers. I asked them about the advice they used to give. Without fail, they have said, "Oh man. I had no idea." Whether they are talking about themselves, or about the woman they love who has had a baby, without fail, they have a new perspective on what its like to be a parent and to be raising a tiny human who can literally take up all your time and energy and more.
So next time you are contemplating being hard on yourself for not taking on the next challenge, ask yourself, if I was kind and loving towards myself, would I do this? Would this be the advice I would give another brand new, healing, tired mother? And if it's not, don't take it. Just don't. We can only do so much, and there is no benefit is overextending ourselves. Rest, heal, be. There is time in the future for you to crush goals.