unSELFish Mom's Guide to Self Care
Endless demands, rewards, sacrifices, sleepless nights, countless interruptions, and many beautiful - experiences... but girl, I’m tired. Motherhood! I always thought the phrase “beautiful chaos” was ridiculous… until I became a mother. I’ve never been so sleep deprived, drained, and full of joy before – EVER!
I know my day was Sunday, May 13th. This was the day where I was to be celebrated for the things I sacrifice and do as a mother yet as soon as 12:00 am hit on the 14th I was expected to naturally jump back into my regular routine of doing the job I signed up to do… being a mother. I know I am being a little unorthodox to even talk about anything other than “I love my kids” or to mention what I do for them because it is understood that a mother is supposed to be tired, selfless, go without, and all that for her child.
I think society has almost made it a taboo for mothers to enjoy anything other than raising, tending to, running raggedy around, and being excited and happy about anything except being a mother. It’s almost like when a woman becomes a mother, the world wants her to be a mother and nothing more. Forget the fact that a mom was a woman with a life, hobbies, and goals before becoming a mother. The world’s way of explaining the joy of motherhood is the joy that comes behind putting yourself last and your child first, foregoing all your needs as required for the wants and needs of your child. My question is though, why don’t we glorify the real joy of motherhood as discovering that a mom is a human with the ups and downs of life too so to be a great mom she must take care of herself? Why isn’t the mantra, taking care of yourself is taking care of your kids?
We are taught/expected to be so selfless that the world doesn’t talk about this essential aspect of motherhood –Self-Care– and as a result we put very little focus on it. It’s not newsworthy unless a mother completely blows a gasket and hurts herself or someone else.
According to Forbes in 2017, 70 percent of mothers were a part of the workforce and 40 were both the primary caregiver and breadwinners of their household. And despite spending more time at work, mothers were also spending more time than ever on childcare. Even still, moms reported that they felt pressured to be even more involved with their children than they already were.
So, it sounds like some of us mamas need to UNITE and reclaim some “me time.” Know that I am not an expert at this. I just recently learned to incorporate more “me time” into my own routine this year with my Year of Yes… AND I AM LOVING IT!!!! We are all in this together and I need grace just like you. Just like the other mom who is at her wits end, I need it more some days than others. I know, I know… you feel guilty for wanting your much needed “me time" but no one drives around in a car with no gas, right? Not only because it is illogical but because we know eventually the car would stop running without taking the time to refuel. So why are we expected not to refuel or to run on half empty?
Self–care is necessary. When I say necessary I mean more necessary than ONE day a year. Stop letting society reduce a mom’s self-care to a day spa visit or a trip to get a manicure/pedicure when you need to design a balanced life through purposeful choices. I look at it as the airplane warning, “please secure your mask (self-care) before attempting to assist someone else”. As mommies, let’s set a great example for our children of how to be kind to ourselves. Instead of waiting to do that massage on Mother’s Day or take that girls trip once a year, find small ways to care for yourself throughout each day. In doing so, we need to create some self–care rituals and focus on the importance of understanding how to incorporate self-care into our daily schedules.
The first step I took when I started my “me time” was pushing away feelings of guilt! That’s your first step too! Secondly, and most important, I had to stop comparing myself to any other mother, how she uses her time, and what she does with her kids. Don’t get me wrong, we can all learn a thing or two from each other but my life is mine and hers is hers. How we can and will divide our 24 hours is totally different and we each have our own lives and own children with different personalities, needs, and interests. Moreover, I definitely DO NOT compare myself to someone who does not have a family and/or a child. STOP ALL COMPARISON!
Now that you’ve done that, you’re ready to identify your needs and develop a plan to incorporate meeting your needs into your self-care routine. Here are a few things I did to jump start my self-care routine and some things you can do as well:
Adopt a self–care affirmation.
Mine is: “When I take care of my needs, I am a better mother. I am teaching my children that my needs are important so when they are parents they will understand that investing in themselves is worthwhile.”
Identify some basic needs that you might have such as time with friends, going back to school, pursing a passion, or just simply carving out some time to be alone.
For me it was my passion/blog, Biblically Led Cornbread Fed!
Build a support system for yourself. Learn that it is ok to ask for and accept help. This also includes utilizing the spouse and/or other parent, family, and friends more.
Rearrange that to-do list. Stop putting yourself at the bottom of your to-do list. Sadly, some of us don’t even have ourselves on the to-do list! Your needs come above laundry, phone calls that are endless with needy friends, or making it to the store to get the latest deal on laundry soap to save $.50 with the coupon. Girl eliminate the unessential responsibilities off your list and replace it with some “me time”.
Meditate on scripture.
I read a Bible App plan every morning. When I have time, I journal how it applies to me and at least one thing I can change.
Create a relaxing space. I do this by buying and lighting candles.
My new favorite scent from Bath and Body Works is White Opal.
Read a book.
Here are some books I've read recently… and “no” ladies bedtime stories to your children don’t count.
Take a bubble bath.
I use Bath and Body Works aromatherapy stress reliever bath fizzy and bubble bath. (I also keep the lotion on my desk at work).
Write. Start a self-care journal.
Some days I just write down everything that is on my mind until there is nothing left. Other times I may journal when I am having a not so good day. For a long time, I used my journal to indulge in big dreams. For example, I dreamed about starting a blog for a really long time, but I was scared to tell anyone about it. I was afraid and I had a lot of self-doubt. So instead I wrote about it. It was so therapeutic to explore my dreams and ideas in a safe place and, with time, manifesting my dreams helped me grow the confidence I needed to launch the blog. Lastly, I always make sure to take notes of some things I am grateful for to have a positive perspective.
End “me time” with prayer for strength to keep going and other prayers based on the need. If you need patience because a child is in the terrible stage, pray for that. If you need your partner to help you a little more relieving you for more me time, pray for that. Just end it with pray and go forth in faith!
I recently started a general prayer list of things that I pray for on a daily!
Set a daily appointment with yourself for at least 10 minutes to unplug. You can take a quick nap, read, meditate, connect spiritually, or work on a hobby or project. These are just a few ideas to get you started. Change and adjust them as needed to cater to YOU. After you get the hang of it you might find other ways to increase the time.
Now go project some awesomeness mama!!
9 So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.