By Thekla Richter
Finding time to nurture your connection with divinity might seem laughable when you are so busy nurturing your newborn and struggling through the most basic aspects of day-to-day life. Yet, at the same time, if you were supported by spiritual practice before you had your baby, giving up that path entirely can leave a huge void in your life that you feel deeply even through your haze of exhaustion.
The good news is that tending your spirit and connecting with the divine can still be a nourishing part of your new life, and it’s possible to give yourself this gift even when you are busy and tired.
Here are some ideas for fitting spiritual self-care into post-baby life and recreating your spiritual practice into a form that’s sustainable with the demands of the first year of parenthood.
1. Take care of your physical needs.
Yes, caring for yourself can be part of your new spiritual practice. Sleep, hydration, food, minimal hygiene and other basic physical needs will form the basis for everything right now, including your spirituality. Prioritize basic self-care fiercely, even when that’s hard. Not only do you deserve and need this for your own sake, but you will have more to give to your family and the universe if you keep yourself healthy, sane and whole.
2. Spend time in nature.
As pagans, connecting with the natural world is important to most of our practices. Make a mindful choice to go outside every day. Outside doesn’t have to be ambitious. Sure, you can go to a park or even on a hike if you feel up for it, but you can also just step onto your porch for a few minutes, nurse baby in your backyard or take a walk around the block. Whatever fresh air and natural light you can get for yourself and baby will help both of you feel better. Stepping outside into fresh air is also sometimes a cure for baby’s colic, so you don’t have to wait for a happy moment; you can try it even if you are both having a really hard day or night.
3. Cultivate a gratitude practice.
If you are tired or feeling disconnected, or conversely feeling really happy and enjoying your baby, take a moment to think about what you are thankful for. You don’t have to do anything formal or write your gratitude down; just focus inwardly for a brief moment on something you feel thankful for. You can just focus on the gratitude or you can also thank the divine or a deity as well and turn your gratitude into a short prayer. Another powerful thing to do is to tell your partner something he or she did that you are grateful for. Remembering your blessings just makes you happier.
4. Create simple “micro-rituals.”
When done with love and intent, small acts can be profound and keep you connected to your spirituality during a time when larger chunks of time might be few and far between. Find simple ways to resonate with spirit. Create new micro-rituals that are short and easy, that you can do in small pockets of time even if you feel exhausted. Don’t take on too much; just one or two simple practices will sustain you more than taking on a long list of them.
- Create or choose a mantra to repeat in tough moments or to meditate upon while soothing or nursing your baby.
- Sing pagan chants to your baby.
- Read aloud to your baby from a book you find inspiring. They will enjoy the sound of your voice even though they don’t understand the content.
- Use nature sounds like ocean waves as background music; this can double as soothing white noise to calm your baby.
- Light a candle on your altar and look at the flame for a moment. (Blow it out when you are ready to step away, so that you don’t have to remember to do that later.)
- Smudge yourself with sage or sprinkle yourself with salt water.
- Hold a rock or crystal on your lap or in your hand for a moment and focus on it to help you ground and center.
- If you already have a meditation or prayer practice, continue it… in sessions of ten seconds to five minutes if need be.
- Do just a few minutes of yoga, stretching or dance, ideally with some relaxing music playing. Envision being fully grounded in your body and connected to the earth. Your baby might like watching you stretch from beside you on the floor if you are stretching. If you are dancing, she might like being carried in a sling.
- Say hello/blessings/thanks to the sun, moon, stars or sky every time you go outside. Greet trees and animals you might see. If you do this out loud, your baby will enjoy your voice and eventually join you in this practice when he is older.
However you choose to hold space for spiritual practice, celebrate yourself for the smallest of steps and know that they matter. Whenever you can’t or don’t focus in on this part of yourself, accept that too and let it go. Trust that the divine is always present, no matter what you are or are not doing in your spiritual practice. Trust that the practices that nurture you will always be there when you are ready to do them. Trust that this parenting thing will get easier as your child gets older and that you will slowly reclaim more time for yourself.
You are enough just as you are, and whatever you are doing is enough. Your daily life, even in the most mundane of moments, is itself divine.
Thekla Richter is a productivity + life design coach for super busy parents. She loves drum circles, barefoot beach dancing, and fluffy fantasy novels. Her philosophy? Keep it sane. Keep it simple. Keep it playful. You can learn more about her work at http://www.theklarichter.com/
Photo credit: D. Sharon Pruitt under a Creative Commons License http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/3038760752/sizes/q/in/faves-14256974@N05/