Self-care is super important. The saying is true: You can’t pour from an empty cup. You are able to help others around you more when you are happy and healthy – mind, body and soul. With many stressors throughout our day it takes intentional effort to find positive things that counteract stress and make you feel calm and centered.
For me it was fitness, yoga, happy hour with friends, and maybe a day at the spa. That was until I had children. I didn’t realize how much I relied on those things for my mental and emotional well-being until after I had kids. Until then they were just a part of my routine.
After having my first child, I no longer had the time or flexibility to have much of a self-care routine. However, I found that if I could just get a shower, a nap, and a small workout all in one day I would feel like a person again for a little bit. So that became my goal. Some days I could get one or two of them, occasionally none at all, but those days I could get all three were amazing and would recharge my soul.
Then, after having my second child two years later, I had that same small self-care goal: shower, workout and nap… And let me tell you they did not happen often. Between the exhaustion from having my second poor sleeper, working around a toddler and baby schedule, trying to be a good part-time employee and full-time mom, and limited funds, my self-care went out the window. It hit me like a freight train how important self-care was when I had none at all. I was trying to pour from an empty cup and as much as I’d like to think I hid it well, I’m pretty sure everyone around me could tell. Lack of self-care does a number on my patience!
I had to adjust and redefine my self-care again before I lost myself completely.
It took some time to let go of wanting my old self-care routine back but I had to work with where I was. I realized that if I went upstairs at night a few minutes before everyone else and read a book, wrote in a gratitude journal (I got this one for only $6.99) or did some relaxation exercises, that was enough to help me find a little inner calm. So I made that my new self-care routine. It got me through those tough months.
Eventually, as the kids grew and their schedules changed I was able to start doing a few workouts per week at home while they napped, ones I now share with all my mommy clients. I was also able to get in a few naps and shower regularly (you’re welcome). And now, a little over two years later, I still make self-care a priority. I may never have the time or freedom to work out two hours per day or catch a happy hour without planning it weeks in advance, but I am scheduling enough time for me to recharge and making sure it happens.
For anyone in the middle of trying to figure out this balancing act of Mommy Self-care, here are a few tips that helped me along the way:
Set Goals and Have a Plan.
It may be a goal of a shower, a workout and a nap. It may be eating a healthy meal and reading a chapter in a new book (Bunmi Laditan’sConfessions of a Domestic Failure was silly and perfect for me at the time). Find whatever you feel is beneficial and attainable for you then work towards those goals by setting specific times and boundaries around that time.
Let Go of What You Can’t Control.
When you have children to care for sometimes things out of your control like illness or cranky growth spurts come out of nowhere and get in the way of your self-care routine for that day or week. Because self-care is about long term physical and mental health, it is important to not let one set back send you into a downward spiral. Support your family and then make next week even better.
Don’t underestimate the power of your food choices when it comes to easy and attainable mommy self-care. Cutting out processed foods and sugar, eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and including some helpful vitamins can improve your energy and mood incredibly. I would stock up on ingredients for 7 Crock-Pot Freezer Meals, double it and have 14 healthy freezer meals ready to go for when I was too tired to cook dinner. This is something I still do when I know I have a busy week coming up and bonus – it helps our family save on our food budget!
Don’t doubt that you will find yourself again. Remind yourself that the children will eventually grow and become more independent and open more options but for a while self-care might just mean taking a shower, and that’s ok!
Let Go of Mom Guilt.
By taking care of yourself you are being a good parent and setting the example for you children so they’ll learn to take care of themselves too. You’ll also have more patience for them and everyone else!
And for those Mommas with older children who feel they have lost themselves along the way…
It’s Never Too Late.
Start now. In the morning, before you help anyone else with anything, go on a walk. Even for just 10 minutes. Listen to the birds, feel the breeze and take that time for yourself. With a self-care plan, you can find balance and get back to where you want to be.