A few questions for you momma’s…how many of you feel burnt out, chronically exhausted, and overwhelmed on the daily? How many of you feel like you “have it all” – beautiful, healthy children, a safe and cozy home, perhaps a good job…but you dedicate all of your time to keeping everyone else happy and your needs and interests are left unfilled?
And I want to be clear…you probably don’t ASK for anything in return, because that would make you selfish right? Your job is to raise a family and you love this job more than anything in the world. But…you miss taking care of YOU. Do these statements hit home for you?
Well…If you do feel this way, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. I’m also here to encourage you to shift the way you prioritize your own needs, and why this will help you become a happier, healthier mother and individual.
So, in this post, I’m going to explain why every single mother needs a self care routine and help you make a game plan.
A quick personal story about myself: I have two young girls, ages 3 and 1. They are my WORLD…seriously, like most mom’s out there, I would do anything for my girls. Their happiness and well being are the most important things to me.
With that said, after I had Mila I began to quickly realize how easy it is for mother’s to “lose” themselves once little ones come into the picture. The truth is, motherhood changes us. It makes us realize the definition of ‘selflessness’ but it can also be isolating, overwhelming, and all consuming. Your children need you in the deepest sense of the word, and motherhood is truly the most emotionally charged venture there is. After I had Mila, I began to notice I was seriously neglecting every interest and need that I had. I believed that this was my life now, this was motherhood.
However, what I also began to learn was that these feelings of losing a part of myself (ie. ignoring my own needs and interests) were negatively impacting every other area of my life – I was short with my husband, frustrated with how neglectful I was being with my body and mind, missed the social connections that are so important to me, and the realization was this…I was still “Alex” but much of my identity was my kids. I wasn’t fulfilling my own needs…and as a result, my loved one’s were not getting the best version of me.
I know that if you’re still reading this, you feel the same way. So, here are my suggestions on how to implement a Motherhood Self Care Plan, and WHY it’s so important.
The First Step in Creating A Self Care Plan:
Shift Your Thinking About What a “Good Mom” Is
Ok, let’s be honest here. How do you define what a good mom is? More specifically, how do you think YOU can be the best mom possible? Does the word “selfless” come to mind? Well, I challenge you to shift your view on what it means to be selfless. What I’ve realized is that feeling the pressure of having to give and give (without anything in return) can very quickly lead to feelings of failure, isolation, and the loss of sense of self. So, I’m suggesting you shift the way you view what being a successful mom means.
What I realized is this: I’m the best mom I can be when I am: patient, present, loving, and happy. I’m also the best mom I can be when I model the importance of self love and self care. This doesn’t mean that my children don’t come first. What it means is that I’m communicating to my children that I love myself enough to take care of my own body, mind and spirit.
So, starting today I want you to repeat this phrase daily when you first wake up and before you go to bed: I am making myself a priority because my body and mind deserve the attention. I am a better mother and wife for it, and I am raising children to understand the importance of self care.
Be Deliberate In Making “Me Time”
And no, this doesn’t mean having alone time in the laundry room so you can take a breather from the screaming kids while also folding laundry. This means, committing yourself to 30 minutes each day where you are engaging in an activity that brings you joy.
Arrange this time with your partner, babysitter or family member but whatever you do, make it a priorty. It doesn’t have to be something extrodinary, it can be as simple as going for an evening walk with your friend, or reading an interesting book. For me, taking a half hour to sneak out for a run is incredibly calming and rewarding. Figure out what activity is mentally calming for you, and then make this daily commitment to yourself. I’m certain your kids will reap the benefits just as you will.
Exercise…Even If It’s The Last Thing You Want To Do
I know, I know…exercise often feels like work. But the hormones that are released while you exercise, specifically the feel good ones called endorphins can greatly contribute to a sense of happiness and well being. As well, by taking part in regular physical activity, you are beginning on a journey of self care.
From experience, exercise always makes me feel better. I have never once regret working out, and it always lifts my spirits and refocuses me for the day ahead. Getting started is the hardest part, but once you get into a routine of regularly exercising, you will want to keep going.
*For some specific tips on exercise and healthy eating postpartum, see my Shedding The Baby Weight Blog Post*.
Find Your Motherhood Tribe
I am a full time Stay at Home Mom, and finding other mom friends has been incredibly valuable. I have never been the type of person who enjoys “mommy groups”. With that said, I know many mom’s who have developed wonderful friendships through them. Personally, I really wanted to build friendships that weren’t solely built on the commonality of having children.Therefore, I wanted to find mom friends that had similar interests and values. The types of friends that I would have regardless of whether they were mom’s or not.
I encourage you to do the same – reach out to other mom’s who you think you might mesh with, the one’s that you can relate to aside from having children, but the one’s who you can count on through the ups and downs of parenthood. Use these friends for support, social connection and build a long lasting friendship that will help you stay sane when raising babies.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Sometimes we simply need a breather. I know that this isn’t possible for everyone – babysitting is expensive and sometimes we don’t have loved ones near us to give us a break. However, if you have resources available to send your kids off for a few hours while you do something for you, then hand over the reigns.
Sometimes motherhood makes us a little crazy. We feel like we should be doing it all, all of the time. Let go of the need to be in control and pass the baton to someone else for the day, guilt-free. You deserve a break and I guarantee that when you return, you will have a renewed energy and calmness about you.
Get Up, Dress up, Show Up
If you’re the type of person who lives in sweats, I’m challenging you to get dressed in something you feel good in. Shave your legs, do your hair, and show up. In reality, I have many days where I’m at home living in yoga pants and rocking the mom bun. But with that said, I make a conscious effort most days of the week to get dressed, put on some lip gloss, and a little spritz of perfume.
I think that when we are wearing something that makes us feel good, we begin to feel more confident and enthusiastic about the day ahead. It gives us a little bit of a pep in our step, if you will. Bottom line: The way you feel in your clothes directly influences your energy and overall self confidence.
But, in the end REMEMBER:
It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. Some days we will get it right, and some days we will make mistakes. Some days we will feel like we finally have achieved the “perfect balance” and the next morning we will laugh at ourselves wondering how we ever thought that was possible.
I hope this post will help you figure out ways you can take care of yourself while on this motherhood journey, because you certainly deserve it.