Parenthood is a journey filled with ever-evolving challenges, from the sleepless nights to the chaotic energy of toddlerhood. Amidst the daily demands, it’s easy to neglect your own needs. Before you know it, you get to the end of the day without a proper meal, no shower and you are questioning the last time you washed your hair, let alone had a moment of peace.

This is something that applies to every phase of parenthood, whether it be the depths of the newborn phase or the chaos of a toddler and/or young children in the house, leaving you wondering how to meet your needs each day.

Something that I talk about in most of my sessions with parents is applying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to parenting. I don’t want to overwhelm you with theory, however I want to give you some basis of what the strategies I am providing are attempting to provide you.

In a personal anecdote, I am in the depths of my transition to 3 children and there are days where I do not know where the day has gone, what I have done, let alone how many times I have got up and down and fetched snacks. It is overwhelming, I too am exhausted and I can find days where I find it so hard to draw on the things I know I can do to help get me through. So this experience of myself is what has fueled this blog post.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1943)

This is a theory which centers around what motivates us as individuals. From 1943 the original model was formulated whereby it included 5 areas of growth leading to self-actualisation.  In  the 1970’s the model was further adapted to become a seven-stage model. You You can read more about the hierarchy and see visuals of the pyramid here (


What has remained consistent over the development and change of the model is that the base needs of the pyramid holds the most important and fundamental needs for us to create a stable starting point to grow as individuals to achieve what we desire.

What do you think that base may be?

It is the physiological needs (hydration, food and sleep), it is being safe, feeling like you belong and are loved. 

This is the point I know you may read and go oh yeah great, how am I meant to sleep with a newborn, how do I sleep when I have a one year old in a regression, or a sick toddler. Sometimes these moments can feel relentless and just when you have some sleep hygiene in your life, the next thing may come along to disrupt it. This can lead to the impacts of sleep deprivation entering your life. 

When sleep is non-existent, it can feel like the world is crumbling around you. When you lose that ability to problem solve, make decisions and that the simplest of tasks feel overwhelming, I want to urge you to turn towards this model in the back of your mind.

Applying the Hierarchy of needs to parenting

You do not need to reach every stage of the pyramid to move forward, you can oscillate back and forth, drawing on the needs in each level to help you work towards living the life with self motivation. However, one of the most important things to remember is that when you are lacking in one of the most basic, physiological requirements you need to draw upon and focus more heavily on the others so that you give yourself a chance to thrive, even when sleep deprived.

The aim of this blog

What I would like to do here is to give you a toolkit for the various levels of the hierarchy and how you can apply them to your life, with not just a focus on the postpartum period, but for any phase of parenting that you are in. These strategies are not just focusing on the mother, but rather the family unit. So when reading this please think about how it can apply to all of those involved in the caregiving role.

The approach to providing these strategies may seem like I am heavily focusing on what you can do for yourself, but this DOES NOT mean that you need to do it all by yourself! By understanding what you can do for yourself, is a means of applying love and kindness towards yourself, your identity and providing self respect for your journey. This is going to be underpinned by self-compassion.

Unfortunately, as parents you may find yourself feeling isolated at points of your journey, even for the non primary caregiver parents, going to work, although it may appear to be a break, can also be isolating, especially if there are no outlets other than immersing yourself in your role. When you do find yourself isolated, there may not be someone else there to actually pick up physical tasks and even a hug. A lot of the time, the most reliable person that is present for us, is ourselves. So lets learn how we can draw upon that, knowing that we have support persons around us that can be sounding boards and help when it is possible.

A toolkit of strategies for the various levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Biological and Physical needs

Nourishment and hydration:

  • Ask yourself, have I eaten today?
  • Ensure availability of snacks that are easy to grab (nuts, granola bars, fruit)
  • Keep a meal planner to ensure balanced nutrition throughout the week
  • Use a slow cooker for easy meal preparation.
  • Generate a list of your well liked meals and snacks and when people ask if they can make you anything, you can pick something off the list to ask for.
  • Have a snack box prepared to be placed in the area you typically do most of your feeding with your baby. That way, it is easily accessible throughout the day, and especially when you become nap trapped after a feed.
  • Nourish yourself with warming meals in the first weeks postpartum.
  • Fill your water bottle each morning 
  • Set yourself a lunch time alarm and make sure that you pause what you are doing, step outside in the fresh air, take a breath and consume your lunch.


  • This does not always mean sleep when the baby sleeps, this is to do something that is restful when the baby or toddler sleeps.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises or short meditation sessions to relax your mind.
  • Aim to be off of technology devices to allow your brain a moment to slow down.
  • Let go of the guilt for slowing down. You can practice a script such as “I am choosing to rest to prioritise my needs”, “I rest for me”
  • You may be in a phase that means you need to go to sleep in the evening when the baby does. This is hard when you feel that all you do is look after the kids or go to work then come home, however by resting when you need to, you may be able to show up in more ways the next day.
  • Reach out to others to help in caregiving to your children so that you can rest or sleep when needed.
  • Be explicit with the support that you need when asking others for help around rest.


  • Set yourself timers to stand and move your body. Whether that be a stretch, dance, star jumps, walking on the spot. Whatever you need to do to get that movement in a way that feels good at that moment.
  • Utilise baby wearing to incorporate gentle movement whilst soothing your child
  • Create a space to exercise in your home. Find online videos you like to do or a program that you can follow remotely.
  • Attend baby and parent classes.
  • Remind yourself that even if you do 10 mins in the morning, lunch and evening that equates to 30 mins movement over the day. 
  • Research and understand the types of movement that are beneficial to your body depending on the stage of your cycle that you are in.


  • Ensure your home environment is a physically comfortable temperature where possible and have knee rugs available to get cozy underneath.
  • Wear clothing that keeps you warm and comfortable, wearing socks around the home in cooler months.
  • Use heat packs or warm baths to relax tense muscles.
  • When selecting items to help keep warmth, you can also include things that are soft and fluffy to assist in sensory input to assist in nervous system regulation.

Safety needs

  • Create an environment that you feel supported and safe within. So think warmth, surround yourself with people that you feel can hold you emotionally and physically.
  • Thinking beyond just physical safety, can also think about setting boundaries to protect yourself emotionally.
  • Practice self-awareness and recognise when you need a break and ask for it.
  • Write a cheat sheet for things you can do when you feel like you need a break and you can read this when you are overwhelmed to pick something.
  • Seek professional support if needed to ensure your emotional and physical safety

Love and belongingness

Building community:

  • Join a mothers group in your local area to find a community where you can share your ups and downs, whilst listening to the stories of others so that you may not feel so alone.
  • Reach out to friends that have children and organise times to hang out.
  • Join online parenting forums and follow parenting pages on Instagram.
  • Accept offers that people make to pick up items from the shop for you if needed.
  • Make a list of people that you can go to for different types of support (e.g. when kids aren’t sleeping, when you want to talk about things that don’t include your children, feelings of resentment, conflicts with relationships, work life, passion projects, emotional support, exercise world, health ideals). It is ok that you do not talk to one person about all the aspects of your life. Sometimes having that cheat sheet prepared for who you can turn to can be really helpful.

Your relationship:

  • Explore your love language with your partner. Understand what fills your love cup and give examples to your partner for things.
  • Schedule dates with your partner - this can be in the home as well
  • Create a date jar with ideas of activities that can be done in the home, out with baby and out solo if you have someone to care for bub.
  • Create families traditions or rituals to strengthen your bond.

Esteem Needs

  • Affirmations for self and your achievements, values, desires.
  • Choose some affirmations that resonate with you, and write them down on a piece of paper and decorate them. Place them in high frequented locations in your home such as the bathroom mirror, hallway, fridge, playroom etc. Use them as a grounding tool, when you read, pause, take a breath and read it a few times to reflect on how this is applying to you right now.
  • Journal writing, this can be to process emotions, reflect on learnings of parenting and new strategies, questioning the thoughts you may be having or even a process to tap into your creative outlet.
  • Repeating to yourself, “I am doing my best right now, I choose to acknowledge everything I am experiencing, the ups and the downs. I can get through this one moment at a time”
  • Letter writing to yourself from a previous hard experience. Talking to yourself knowing what you know now, and looking at how far you have come. What would past you want to have heard? Speak to yourself with kindness and compassion, providing hope for getting through that difficult period.
  • Let yourself take a compliment from others, do not automatically push it down. When they are saying your are doing a good job, pause (even though we may not automatically do this), and say, “yes, I know I am doing the best I can, and I am proud of myself”
  • Catch yourself when you are stuck in a comparison loop. Your worth and parenting abilities are not defined by the information that you are given by others about their lives.
  • Practice gratitude
  • Allow yourself to find things difficult, do not push away your struggles just because you feel that someone else has it worse.
  • Set small achievable goals that you can celebrate your wins each step of the way.

Cognitive Needs

  • Reading books
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Enrol in online courses or webinars related to parenting or personal interests
  • Set aside time each week for reading books, articles, or watching educational videos
  • Engage in brain stimulating activities like puzzles, crosswords, or learning a new language
  • Engage in creative outlets like drawing, painting or crafting.
  • Subscribe to newsletters of interest
  • Join a book club

Aesthetic needs

Personal Appearance:

  • Create a self-care routine. Think what it is that you need to feel like there is a distinction between waking up and getting the day started.
  • Pick something to wear that makes you feel comfortable, recognise that this may be something different to what you used to wear, and that is ok.
  • Have some affirmations that you can say to yourself when you get caught up in the ‘nothing fits me’ zone. “My body has changed, and that is hard to take. I can focus on comfort, supporting myself the best way I can to take little steps back to feeling myself”.


  • Decorate your home with things that bring you joy
  • Organise and declutter your space
  • Use essential oils or candles to create a calming environment
  • Use lighting that isn’t too harsh

Self-actualisation needs

  • Explore your values, what is important to you? 

Dr. Koa Whittingham is a Clinical Psychologist and she authored the book ‘Becoming Mum’. This is a self-help book offering evidence-based support grounded in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for the transition into motherhood. She explores Values throughout this and is a valued resource for families. She also has meditations, blogs and resources on her website which is 

  • Think about your identity prior to having children, how does this look for you now? Are there areas that no longer resonate with you as much? That is completely normal.
  • Explore your identity and ways that you can incorporate it into your life right now. Depending on the phase of life you are in, you may not be able to engage completely in it, but how can you adapt it for you right now.
  • Have conversations with people who share a common interest. 
  • Engage in areas of your relationships and friendships where you share similar values, and share your experiences with them.

Transcendence needs

  • Lean into values that extend beyond yourself, so think about things like spiritual, nature, service to others etc.
  • You may look into more holistic practices within this area.
  • Take part in a mother’s circle to share your learnings and experiences with others
  • Volunteer for causes you care about
  • Look at becoming a peer support worker
  • Share your experience and knowledge through writing or speaking
  • Spend time in nature to connect with the environment and reflect

Where to from here?

I know this is an extensive list, but what I wanted to show you is that there are options for self-care that extend beyond massages and pedicures. There are tools that you can use in various areas of our life which can assist in your transition to parenthood and beyond.

Remember, prioritising your needs is not selfish—it's essential. By taking care of yourself, you are better equipped to care for your family. Reach out, ask for help, and know that you are not alone in this journey. Together, we can navigate the challenges of parenthood with compassion and resilience.

Here’s to the ups, the downs and the in between xx

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