Doula work is demanding for anyone, with or without children. Doulas with kids however do have the added challenge of needing to care for young ones at home who can demand a nearly equal amount of attention as their clients, if not more!
As a doula who doesn’t have kids yet, I’m able to leave a birth and essentially do whatever I want with my time with little care for anyone else until I’m good and ready. Because of this gap in my experience I reached out to doulas who have children to ask what they do for their self-care that is unique to their responsibilities as parents.
These 12 tips are the result of their experiences. Most of them simply speak to giving yourself permission to prioritize self-care and letting yourself off the hook from having to do it all!
I hope they prove useful to you...
Hire your sitter for extra hours to cover the time you need to recover, or send the kids to daycare if that’s an appropriate option. Don’t just think you can or should jump right back into things as soon as you get home from a birth. Hire the extra help and catch up on some solid sleep before getting back to your family duties. Having the whole house to yourself for a few solid hours alone can also be sanity making.
Remember to add this and any of the extra costs mentioned on this list into your pricing!
Hire cleaning help to handle the mess. It’s one less thing to keep on your plate, and also makes you available for quality (not cleaning) time with the family when you’re not working.
Keep regular business hours. Who says you need to be available for nighttime interviews or prenatals with clients when you’d rather be at home with your family during those precious hours. Many professionals keep daytime working hours, why not you? Leave the odd hours for births. Otherwise, consider scheduling prenatal visits and interviews when your school age children are at school and keep nights for you and your family.
Make dates with other parents or doula friends WITHOUT the kids. Free yourself from the “work, work, work” mentality and recognize how nourishing this kind of quality adult time can be. Most parents find this essential for their mental well-being. I’m sure you’ll learn a thing or two from them too that you can use in your own parenting and doula life to increase the sanity.
If you’re still nursing and pumping you have permission to take the guilt-free breaks you need to stay nourished, hydrated and pumping even while tending to your clients at births. They will understand you have needs too. Remember they are capable and strong and will survive the amount of time you need to take care of yourself (That’s true for ALL doulas). I recently worked with a midwife who swore by her wearable breast pump, being back to work just 4 months postpartum. Check it out... https://shop.willowpump.com/
A post birth bath, with or without your baby, can be amazingly soothing. Throw in some epsom salts and your nervous system will thank you!
Enjoy quality time with your child(ren). Cuddles, an extra long feeding for those still at that stage, storytime, enjoying a movie together, a special trip to the nail salon together, age depending, etc. Activities like these can be super nourishing ways to reintegrate to family life post-birth which can also be an act of self-care.
Doula partnerships can be especially supportive for doulas with kids. Having another doula to share the workload with you can take a huge load off and help protect family time when, for example, you alternate on-call weekends with another doula. Exchanging or sharing childcare with other doula parents can also be a game changer!
If you’re partnered, delegate the duties! Have them cover drop off or pick-up the morning after, or take the kids out for dinner after you get home, etc. It takes a village.
Make time for things that help you feel like a human being. Something just for you, like listening to podcasts while running from thing to thing is a great way to do something for yourself even while you’re continuing to take care of your family.
Make meals easy. Either by preparing freezer meals ahead of time or ordering delivery for meals or groceries. Self-care is often about compassionately acknowledging and accepting there is only so much you can do. You’re already a superwoman for being a doula and parent on top of it all. Remember, you’ve got nothing to prove. What you have got are people who need you to take good care of YOURSELF so you can be there for them...AFTER the bath, nap, meal, etc!
Anything to add? Love to hear from you!