I used to be great at taking care of myself… Then I became a mom.
I thought that the only way to be the best mother I could was to constantly be self-sacrificing in order to show my kids how much they were loved. Not only that, but just doing the bare basics didn’t seem to leave me any time to just take care of me. This lead to exhaustion, overwhelm, anxiety attacks, and sometimes even depression.
And I know there are a lot of other moms out there in the same place I was. So here are three things that worked for me to help me find better balance.
A little education
My old version of taking care of myself when I was feeling stressed was to go on a nice hike or retreat to my apartment and cancel my social engagements for the next day or two. Obviously, that doesn’t work with kids. And so I thought that since I couldn’t have that, I was just up a creek without a paddle. There was nothing I could do, so I just needed to toughen up and push through for the next… 18 years. Ha!
I needed to self-care smarter, not harder.
Just like trying to get our kids to sleep at night – or to potty train – it goes by a lot smoother and faster if we know a little bit about what we are doing and the psychology behind it. The same goes for self-care. We know that we want to stop feeling ____, but how? By learning the science behind it.
I go into detail on this in our free 30 Day Self-Care Challenge – you can check it out here. But as a brief overview: just as our bodies need food, exercise, & sleep to function – our mind and emotions also have things they need in order to function well. Learning those key “ingredients” if you will can allow you to piece together ten minutes here and there that are exactly what you need – instead of guessing and hoping and wasting a lot of time that you can’t afford to waste.
A three part system
I have found that the most effective self-care routines come in two parts – the body, the emotions, & the mind.
For example, did you know there is such a thing as willpower fatigue?? Yap, your brain has a set amount of decisions it is able to make in a given day before it starts powering down. And as a mom – by the time 10am hits we’ve already answered our quota of 100 decisions! So while me might have eaten a good breakfast, gotten 8 hours of sleep, and put our makeup on – our brain has not gotten the love it needs to make it through the day.
So take a step back and think about it – when you’ve been overwhelmed and try to take care of yourself, are you just focusing on your body? Do your routines involve exercise & good food but neglect your emotional and mental needs?
My personal routine currently consists of 15 minutes in the morning, about 10 minutes in the afternoon, and about 10 minutes at night. But I also believe you can take care of yourself with much less than that! And there are a lot of things you can do that involve your kids. It doesn’t all have to be time carved out for just you (though that would be nice, wouldn’t it?).
A change in perspective
As I mentioned before, I thought being a good mom meant self-sacrifice. And sometimes it does! But not all the time.
If we are teaching our kids that the way to show someone we love them is to give up everything about ourselves and focus on that person 24/7 – they are going to be an absolute mess when they turn 16. Looking at it from a dating perspective, it’s easy to see that that’s not love – it’s insecurity.
And while yes, our kids need us more than their future boyfriend/girlfriend will – they aren’t going to make that distinction. Because by then, their brains are going to be hardwired to do as mom did…
A healthy self-care practice is not just for you. It’s for your kids too. And while it is a lot harder to do as a mom, it’s also a lot more valuable.
If you want to take the next step and start diving a little deeper into the how and why of true self-care, head on over to our 10 Day Personal Care Workshop to get started! It’s completely free and done all through email – so you can do it on your own time & schedule.