I have always struggled with self-care, both physical and emotional, and I still often forget and avoid things which would actively make me feel better: showers, tooth brushing, haircuts, down time, relaxing (what’s that!?). They have always been tasks that I’ve struggled with due to inertia (see Autistic Inertia) and my skipping delightfully around demands (see Why I Struggle with Demands).
Then along came our little man and self-care went from bad to non-existent.
I no longer had the energy to brush my hair, let alone clean it. I couldn’t remember what day it was and whether I had eaten that morning. I lost all sense of time due to lack of sleep and his sleeping in the daytime. In the very early days time was meaningless, which is even more confusing with my Attention Hyperactivity. What day / time / year is it? Is it time to eat breakfast or dinner? Please don’t anyone ask me how old my son is because at this point I do not know!
I still have a very confused sense of time so it’s difficult to know the last time I engaged in self-care. Keeping on top of bathing is one of the more difficult tasks, especially as I struggle with temperature changes and dampness.
Having a baby in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic made things even more overwhelming and confusing. We had our little man just after things were starting to ‘go back to normal’ in the UK, after I had spent nearly two years at home on furlough or on maternity leave. All the routines which kept my self-care somewhat in control had gone completely by the wayside. Usually, I can’t leave the house without brushing my teeth, but I hadn’t been within two metres of another human being for so long that regular tooth brushing was a thing of the past.
My safe foods were also compromised due to quick in-person food shopping and home delivery which didn’t always deliver *exactly* what I wanted. Eating regularly was an issue compounded by gestational diabetes.
Early parenting was no sleep, no safe food and no concept of time.
Little man is over a year old now and is a complete joy to be with, things are starting to settle down and my routine is settling due to going back to work. I am starting to get back into the swing of things at Uni and every so often I even see a friend for coffee and soft play.
Creating a new routine for myself has been vital for my self-care – hello toothbrush, my old friend! – but it has also added to the pressure and demands of my everyday life; being a working, Neurodivergent mum is no joke.
I just have to keep reminding myself that I’ve got this, and that the occasional forgotten hairbrush, breakfast or down time doesn’t mean I’m not an awesome mum. I have constant bed-head, I wear PJs when I go over the shop for milk, I constantly forget things but I’m bloody smashing this.