The Importance of Self-Care When You're a Mom....
My life is beautiful. My life is a total and utter blessing. My life is constantly busy, messy, hectic, and often focused on meeting the needs of others. I am a mom. A full-time working mom to boot. I wake up every morning, long before my daughter flutters an eyelash, so that I can shower, dress, get breakfast ready, and enjoy a cup of coffee with my husband before I need to turn on caregiver mode for the day. I go to work. I fill my students’ minds with knowledge and meaningful experiences. I pick my daughter up. Go home. Cook dinner. Engage with my family. Clean up and prepare to do it all over again the next day. My life is beautiful. My life is a blessing. My life feels like it is often not about me. I am your typical woman in so many ways, feeling stretched far too thin each and every day. However, I don’t let my own needs and wants disappear from my daily agenda, no matter how crazy life may get. I consider self-care, no matter how small, to be as necessary to my health as nourishing food and exercise.
Finding the time to take care of yourself is an absolute must, ladies. As moms (working outside the home or not) our lives revolve around meeting the needs of others day in and day out. This is a wonderful job to be charged with, but it can also be incredibly draining. And when you are drained, you are not the best version of you. Finding the time to recharge, to celebrate who you are as an individual, and see this time as something that is just as important as getting the dishes done or the bills paid….because it is! You are the core of your world. If you aren’t well cared for, just like a car or an appliance, you will eventually wear down or break down. Time spent caring for yourself should be considered as an investment in your long-term health.
I won’t lie, you may need to fight for this time to invest in yourself and make others see why it is important. I’m just going to be honest and real for a moment, but your boss, kids, partner and/or other family members may not understand why it’s vital that you have a half hour each day to read that dusty book sitting on your nightstand or that going to get your hair done every few weeks is a need you have that goes beyond wanting to look pretty. They may just be accustomed to you constantly giving of yourself to others that they have lost focus on your need for a little TLC of your own. You, however, need to find it in yourself to believe that you are worth this sacred time of recharging. That you deserve the same level of care that you spend most of your day ensuring that everyone else has. Love yourself that much, ladies. When you make that self-care time a priority in your crazy, hectic life, something magical and incredible will happen. You will become the best version of you, my friend. You will laugh with your kids more often than you snap at them. You will kiss your significant other with a passion you thought you had lost years ago. You will smile more. Enjoy your days more. Even the “must-dos” of life will seem less daunting. You will realize that your happiness is vital in YOUR life and that a worn out momma isn’t good for anyone. And pretty soon, the people in your life will see what a positive impact a little self-care has on you as well and will realize that a happy, rested, fulfilled you makes for a happier everyone.
Making your own self-care a priority also sets a valuable example for those you love most in your life. Everyone in your life also needs time, support, and encouragement for self-care. Friends, children, partners, and family members may also need for you to remind them how important it is that they also care for themselves. By taking the time for your own self-care, you are setting a positive example for those who love and admire you. Ensure you support the other people in your life in taking care of themselves, too. Encourage your significant other to explore a new hobby for a few hours each weekend, without complaint from you. Tell your children to take a break from that stack of homework and to do something fun that focuses on the exploration of their own interests. Offer to cover for a coworker when they are going through a rough time so that they can let go of the stress of work and focus on their personal life for a day or two. When you embrace other’s needs for self-care, they will also be happier and are more likely to recognize and support your own need for recharging.
Finding the time for self-care in a busy life isn’t simple or clear cut. I wish I knew how to realign the planets to create the 12 more hours we each could use in a day, but I don’t (get on that NASA). So we all have to work with the 24 hours we have each day to find the moments for self-care. It is something you must plan for and/or embrace when the opportunity arises. Plan those pedicures or coffee dates with your family’s schedule in mind. You will feel less guilty about taking time for yourself if you know that you aren’t creating a hardship for anyone else. Also, plan for “mini me time”. Self-care doesn’t have to be a whole afternoon every week all to yourself (though that would be glorious). My husband knows that when I get home from work each day, he is in charge of taking care of our daughter for 15 minutes while I hide in our bedroom. 15 minutes for me to do as I please. To read a book. Listen to music. Scroll through Instagram. 15 minutes all to myself, no interruptions and for me to recharge. I always emerge refreshed, like I have just enjoyed a power nap. It’s a small window of self-care, but it is something that is planned every day and helps me tremendously. Sometimes, I find opportunities for self-care when I’m not expecting. If I beat traffic on a Monday morning and roll into work 10 minutes earlier than expected, I’ll sit in my car and sip my coffee in peace or go for a brief walk to soak in the morning sun. I carry a book in my purse to read while I stand in line at the bank. I look for opportunities every day that I can steal a few moments to myself. You’d be amazed how a quick 10 minutes focused on your own needs and interests will refresh you.
Being a mother is a beautiful gift, but it is also a job that often requires us to juggle the needs of so many other people. It is easy to lose yourself in that juggling act and forget that you (yes, YOU) are oh-so important. That old saying “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” has stuck around for generation because of the truth it rings. So take the time you need for you…and be that happy mama… for everyone’s sake.