As a Massage Therapist it’s almost ingrained in us to promote Massage as THE way to care for yourself. I admit I do promote it as self care but it is one of many ways we can care for ourselves as parents. The real self care for parents looks much different every couple or family. In the early days of parenting there isn’t much in the way of alone time to get a massage or a haircut which form the usual images of self care. Instead we need to look at what makes us feel great. What is it that connects us back to ourselves and to each other.
When our babies are brand new they need us more than we ever imagined. One thing I always tell my pregnant clients is that there is no way to describe the absolute dependence that child has on you. Everyone tells you that you won’t sleep, you won’t shower and you won’t eat. In reality, you will do all of that. However, the control of when you choose do to that is dictated by the needs of your baby. You are learning how to become a parent. You are learning how your baby communicates their needs and your needs might need to wait. There will be glimmers of hope. There will be times when your baby sleeps longer, will be more settled or you get help.
As time goes on, you will understand your baby’s needs. You will work out ways to create more time and will begin to feel better in your role as a parent. Remember the early days are a stage and while it may be tough now, it will get easier. This time will be over soon and you may miss those days of having your baby so little.
What Real Self Care for Parents Might Look Like For You
Take A Shower
Ok let’s start really easy. In the very early days of parenthood self care involves the basics of personal hygiene. Many Mums complain that they couldn’t take a shower as their baby was so needy. A shower can make us feel better. It takes away the smell of vomit, poo or anything else that may have ended up on you during the day. It gives you a moment to take a breath and recharge so you can get back out there for your baby. Try making a shower a priority over loading the dishwasher or putting on laundry. When your partner gets home, I’m sure they would love some time with your baby too.
This form of self care has benefits to both mother and baby. Get Dad involved too and the whole family benefits. Cuddling helps your baby develop secure attachments to their parents. It also promotes relaxation, reduces anxiety and improves sleep. When our babies are unwell or tired, they seek out cuddles to feel comforted and supported until they are feeling better. You cannot spoil a child with too many cuddles. So why not take some time to stop and enjoy some family cuddles.
When exercise is spoken about following pregnancy, the focus is always on getting your pre-baby body back. Mums feel they are only back to normal if they fit into their pre-baby clothes and have lost their belly. It’s unrealistic to feel that your body will snap back so instead focus on the other benefits of exercise. I recommend clients start by walking. Walking is free, allows you to get some fresh air, clears the mind, improves your stamina and is simple. No complicated routines, just one foot in front of the other. Walking is gentle enough to get your body working but without completely exhausting yourself. Go for a walk as a family and enjoy some adult conversation while bub sleeps.
Once you are ready to do some more, try my Clingy Baby Workout. The workout is strength focused and aimed at giving you simple exercises to do while holding your baby. Workouts in the early days will not be perfect. You may not get time to complete your workout in full but remember that’s ok. Your baby needs you now and going back to cuddles anytime is perfectly fine. Also as your baby grows, find activities you can do together as a family. It gets you active and bonding as a family. Many parents will enrol their kids into sports or activities but forget about themselves. Why not find something to do together.
Leaving the house to do anything as a parent takes much more effort. There’s all the extra stuff to pack, being prepared for the inevitable poo-nami and the time to load and unload the car. I have heard many mums talk about going to the supermarket as a Mum vacation. Leaving the house alone can feel wonderful, even just for 10 mins to go to the shops or sitting in the car listening to music. Time out is a great action of self care. A change of scenery, quiet time and a moment to breathe.
Together as parents creating time for date night can be an important form of self care. It may not be a wild night out with high heels and cocktails. It may be simple as enjoying a quick meal together to start. Building up to dinner and a movie before trying a night away from your baby. We easily forget the relationship we had before kids and the person we fell in love with. The relationship dynamic is different and you are facing challenges of broken sleep, hormones and a body recovering from the stresses of pregnancy. Working together you can find a new way to connect and experience the moments you enjoyed before children.
The idea of returning to work following the birth of your bub is a time parents dread. Dads often get a short break to support Mum and it’s back to work. Mum is left home alone craving adult conversation and missing the routine of work life. However, work brings many of us meaning and brings out our passion to help others.
For me, returning to work was about feeling useful again. I know caring for your baby is useful but when you are alone and disconnected from others, work gives you a way to connect, learn and help improve the lives of others. I absolutely enjoy writing blogs and sharing stories to help other mums. It gives me purpose and connection with other mums. I’ve been told so many times I work “too hard” or “too much” but I love what I do so I don’t see it as work. I see the value to my self worth, my mental health and my contribution to my community through the work I choose to do. There’s time I have to admit I take on too much but that’s my decision to make. Work has been created that is flexible around my family, provides for us financially and sets a positive role model for our son. We were proud of the moment Tristan could join me in the business full time as it meant we could both be around for Blake and do a job we love. At times it is challenging working together but we do our best.
What does your picture of real self care as parents look like?
Your picture of self care will change as your baby grows, as your family grows and as you return to work. It’s time to ditch that perfect picture of self care being all about flowery spa treatments and blissful moments of alone time. It’s about re-framing the things we see as mundane or normal and realising the positive impact they can have on your physical, mental and emotional health. Remember to enjoy your time as parents and connect again as a partnership.
We know massage therapy helps with lower back pain, but what can you do to prevent pain returning in between visits to see us?
If the muscles surrounding your spine are weak, your spine will not be properly supported. The spine is supposed to naturally have a slight forward curve to it. However, weak core muscles will make this position impossible. A weak core results in changing the way weight is carried through your spine and putting excess tension on surrounding muscles and tendons resulting in, you guessed it, lower back pain.
What exercises should you do?
- Transverse Abdominus Activation
The basis to all core training starts with being able to identify and activate your deep abdominal muscles. These muscles form the front of your whole core structure and work in conjunction with your pelvic floor and diaphragm. To activate, start by lying on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor. Take a deep breath through your diaphragm (expanding your belly and lower ribs). As you exhale, draw in your lower abdominals and your pelvic floor. To feel this muscle activate, place your hands on the inside of your hips bones and as you draw in, you will feel the tension increase. Read more in our blog Understanding the Core and Pelvic Floor.
To do the clam shell lie on your side with your knees slightly bent, keeping your legs and ankles together. You can rest your head on an outstretched arm during the exercise. Place your other hand on your hip, and then open and close your knees like a clam by lifting your top knee and keeping your feet together. You should feel this exercise activating through your core as well as your glute muscles.
To do the dead bug, begin lying on your back with your hands extended above you toward the ceiling. Bring your feet, knees, and hips up to 90 degrees. Exhale hard to prevent your ribcage from flaring, squeezing your glutes and hold your spine in a neutral position, keeping the natural curve in the spine. Hold this position throughout the movement. This will be your starting position. Extend one leg, straightening the knee and hip to bring the leg just above the ground. Maintain the position of your lumbar and pelvis as you perform the movement, as your back is going to want to arch. Stay tight and return the working leg to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side, alternating. You can also do the same movement with the opposite arm at the same time for a bit of an extra challenge.
Same as the dead bug, but you are doing it looking at the ground, on all fours. Maintaining good core control, a neutral pelvis and spine alignment. Without allowing the pelvis to tilt from side to side, slowly lift the opposite arm and leg to a straight position. Take care not to relax your core, allowing your lower back to arch.
Start by getting into a push up position. Bend your elbows and rest your weight onto your forearms and not on your hands. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Engage your core by sucking your belly button into your spine. Hold this position for as long as you can.
So if you like the results from your massage and you want that pain to stay away longer, follow our advice and continue your self care at home. If you have any questions following your treatment, speak to your Remedial Massage Therapist from the Evolution Massage Team. If you need to get your back pain under control, Book Onlaine for your next Remedial Massage. We are here to help you get more out of life and empower you to make the best decisions for your body.
Physical touch is a basic human need. From birth, touch is a vital part of our health and development. As we grow we need Mum’s kisses and Dad’s hugs to heal any wound or broken heart. Once we become parents ourselves, this touch can be forgotten in the daily stress of life. We are often sick of being touched as we get pulled at and climbed on all day. We crave our space and forget about the love and intimacy that can also come from touch. Learning to appreciate touch again can be as simple as setting the space for it. Learning to massage your partner provides many health benefits but overall brings a connection back to our basic human needs. It doesn’t need to be complicated and you don’t need professional equipment. Just somewhere comfortable and quality time together. Here are just 5 reasons to learn how to massage your partner:
- Calms The Body And Mind: When we first lay or be seated for a massage, what is the first thing many people do? We take a deep breath. You may not realise it but you are already on your way to relaxation before a hand has been laid. Learning to massage at home allows your partner a moment to breathe, relax and forget the stresses of daily life.
- Gives Relief From Pain: How many times a week does your partner complain of pain? Our muscles are overworked and often worked in the wrong manner. For example; poor posture at work or while using our smartphones. I often tell my clients that it seems our muscles just need to be touched to know it’s ok and to settle down. It sounds simplistic but in a way Massage Therapists are helping you to relax and allowing these muscles to switch off for a moment to rest. If you could learn to do this at home, imagine how much more you and your family could do together if they weren’t in pain.
- Shows Your Love: Have you heard of the 5 Languages of Love? They are ways in which a person receives love from another. These ways include; ‘Words of Affirmation’, ‘Acts of Service’, ‘Receiving Gifts’, ‘Quality Time’ and ‘Physical Touch’. Massage is a way to show your love in a way in which your partner likes to receive it. Massage fulfils many of these love languages as it can be seen as an act of service, spending quality time together and of course through physical touch. It may also be seen as a gift and can be paired with words of affirmation. It could be the perfect tool to demonstrate your love.
- Builds Trust, Romance and Intimacy: These are key factors in every relationship and if you can trust someone to provide touch in a way in which you like to receive it, massage can help this trust lead into the romance and intimacy your relationship needs.
- Brings a Connection Back To Your Relationship: We have so many responsibilities in life and in our separate roles it’s easy to forget or lose track of the partner we are sharing our life with. You may never feel in sync or feel like you understand each other anymore. Massage is that quality time you need to reconnect, start a conversation and get back in sync with one another.
I often see the benefits in massage for one person at a time. But I am really looking forward to sharing some skills to show you how simple it is to learn, how important it is to touch and how versatile massage is in your home. Our couples massage workshop is fully clothed, ‘G-rated’ and fun to learn. It won’t replace the need for a qualified massage therapist but will give you some tools to help one another on a regular basis. All you need to bring is yourself, your partner and a willingness to learn while having some fun. To book into our next workshop, head to our Book Online page and ‘Book a Class’.If you would like to know more’ please contact me on 0414 990 335 or [email protected]
We lead busy lives with families to look after, clients to care for, customers to make happy, hours to work, friendships to maintain and the expectation we can do it all. Women, in general, tend to instinctively put themselves last when it comes to the list of priorities. We make sure that everyone is cared for first and we make do with what’s left. It’s a tough habit to break but I would like to share with you the importance of self care and how caring for yourself first, will allow you to give more to others. This quote “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” really hits the nail on the head when it comes to explaining self care. We cannot give to others if we have nothing left within ourselves to give. Personally, I have been there. Exhausted. In pain. Stressed. Emotional. Sick. And so many responsibilities to keep up with. I was so focused on making sure everyone else was happy and looked after that I didn’t make time for myself. I was at the point of burning out. When a Massage Therapist can no longer treat clients, they are referred to as burnt out. I had only returned from a long break from massage the year before as it’s what my body needed and I was determined not to let it happen again. I realised that I needed to make sure I started to practice what I preached and I have really started to preach the importance of self care to prevent others from experiencing this feeling. I was feeling so horrible that I didn’t enjoy my wedding as much as I should have. I wasn’t spending quality time with friends, family or my son. I felt guilty spending money or time on myself as I felt my family needed it more. Self Care doesn’t mean you have to spend heaps of money on expensive lotions, potions or treatments. It doesn’t have to involve heaps of time or effort. It means taking time out for yourself to care for your body and more importantly, the mind. This month, I am sharing 30 tips for self care over 30 days. Keep an eye on our Facebook page andour website as I share some simple and even some free things you can do. At the end of the month, I will compile them all into one place for you to refer to at any time you need inspiration. Evolution Health Services is passionate about creating a world where parent’s lose the guilt surrounding self care and realise that it is important to care for themselves first, to enable them to give to others. We can provide Remedial Massage, Fitness Classes, Personal Training and a Facebook Community that helps you to connect with other parents, just like you. Contact us today to see how we can help you create a plan to care for yourself.
You are probably thinking this is the strangest title I have ever seen from a blog and especially when it comes from your Personal Trainer or Remedial Massage Therapist. You may be thinking why would anyone miss having hangovers? The pounding headaches. The nausea and possible vomiting. The tiredness and not wanting to move a muscle. There is one simple reason I miss hangovers that I want to share. We remember those days from our twenties where we would party all weekend, drink too much and climb into bed at some ridiculous time of the morning. We would stay there most of the day. We may move to the lounge and watch some trashy tv. We would eat whatever we wanted to make ourselves feel better. We could do all of this without ever having to justify our actions to anyone. We would say “I’m hungover” and no one would bother us. Before marriage and kids this was so much easier to pull off. These days we probably aim to avoid the hangover as we have too much to do and feel we would have to justify to the family why we are just lounging around. But really we feel the need to justify it to ourselves. But what if we did just spend the day on the couch, watching trashy TV and enjoyed some lazy time without guilt? What would that do for our motivation, energy levels and health? Clearly you can do all of this without the hangover so maybe it’s time we started. I did it yesterday. I did have 3 whole drinks the night before at a party but was not hungover in any way. I just didn’t feel like getting out of bed, working on my business or even working out. I only wanted to snuggle on the lounge with my blanket watching the Real Housewives of Melbourne. Yes I admit it, I watched it. That’s the best part, you get to pick the most ridiculous shows and be entertained by their antics. I miss those days of being lazy when we needed it. Clearly the need back then was self inflicted and involved binge drinking but these days it’s usually overwork and forgetting how to relax. I often want to work on a Sunday but I am learning to leave it along and know that it’ll all be waiting for me Monday, as will my clients. I challenge you all to take a day off from everything and enjoy some trashy TV. Who’s with me?
Recently I came across this cool TEDEd Video on my Facebook newsfeed. I found it interesting as it’s a question I am often asked as a Remedial Massage Therapist. Clients are concerned as they have heard joint cracking or popping can cause arthritis. In the video they explain that Dr Donald Unger cracked the knuckles on his left hand for 50 years and both hands are free of arthritis. Therefore he concluded that it didn’t cause arthritis. So other than your hands, what other joints are being cracked. Is joint cracking safe? Over the years I have worked with Physiotherapists, Chiropractors and Osteopaths. I have asked them all about joint cracking, especially Chiros and Osteos as joint manipulation is part of their treatment techniques. An interesting thought around cracking necks and backs especially is around the stability of the joints in the spine. Muscles go into spasm as a protective mechanism when something isn’t right. They try to stop you moving to prevent further injury and allow you to seek the right treatment. If those muscles are tight, you will not be able to move the joints into a position where you get that pop. Who has been to the chiro and they were unable to adjust your spine due to your muscles being too tight? Well this is why, your muscles are protecting something. What does a Chiro or Osteo recommend? They send in their Massage Therapist or refer you to get a Remedial Massage to allow the soft tissues to relax and they can apply their manipilation technique. Now if you are “cracking” your back or neck yourself, you will be releasing the joints that are already free. If you continue to crack those joints, you make the free ones more unstable and the tight joints remain tight. When a Chiro or Osteo works, they are able to feel which joints need adjustment and they provide a targeted action to release that joint. So while joint popping may not cause arthritis, consider what it may do to those joints in your spine with repetitive cracking. Seek the right treatment when your neck and back is tight, leaving the joint cracking to the professionals. If you need to see a Massage Therapist, Contact Us and we can release those muscles in spasm and allow your Chiropractor or Osteopath to do their work.