Self-Care for Moms: Necessary for Sanity or Excuse for Selfishness?
Last week I thought about throwing myself off my 2nd floor balcony.
Extreme? Yes. Real life? For sure.
See it had been one of those days where I was the sole one responsible for my kids from the moment they woke up until the moment they went to bed.
When the glorious 730 bedtime rolled around shit HIT THE FAN. The baby couldn’t sleep without being held, the toddler needed me to lay in her bed. And since I can’t be in both places at once they were both screaming. I was moving back and forth from kid to kid when the thought entered my mind “If I jumped off the balcony I’d probably get a break from this shit for a few days.” A nice vacation in the hospital nursing a broken arm or a concussion could be a nice right?
That’s kind of messed up.
I mean you know things aren’t going well for you mentally when you’re wishing you could spend a few days in the HOSPITAL so you could have a break from adulting.
Momming is hard guys.
Its also the greatest, most rewarding, exhilarating thing I’ve ever done.
Its filled with dichotomies that only a mom can understand. Needing to get your kids down in bed so you can BREATH for once in a day, but then getting them to sleep and 5 minutes later missing them so hard you want to lift their sleepy bodies from bed to rock them for just a few more minutes. Its wishing this stage would pass while at the same time staring at photos of them on your phone as you cry about how quickly they are growing and how badly you want them to be little FOREVER.
Emotionally, it can be exhausting at times.
I’m no mom expert, hell I’ve only been at this 3 years, but one thing that I’ve learned along the way is that I have to take time for me in order to stay mentally healthy.
And mentally healthy I was not on the day I dreamed of a hospital vacation.
In my 3 years of momming I’ve learned that whenI don’t proactively carve out consistent time for me to do things that fill me back up then I WILL find myself on top of my balcony ready to jump.
Some may say putting my needs in front my kids’ is selfish. To them I say.
Moms are rarely selfish. We naturally give of ourselves to our children. First our bodies to carry them, our boobs to feed them, we sacrifice our sleep, our needs, and our relationships. We don’t even poop alone anymore for God’s sake.
Moms by definition are not selfish.
Taking time to fill up OUR cups is a requirement to being a good mom, spouse, friend, and happy human. A friend once told me that an empty cup is no good to the thirsty people around you, but with a full cup you can be the mom and wife you want to be AND progress toward your personal goals.
Now maybe you’re thinking that you are pretty good about self care. I mean you did go on that girls weekend 6 months ago and at some point awhile back you got a pedicure.
The thing is though that self care is a practice. You can’t do it once in awhile and expect it to have dramatic effects on your life.
Would you go to the gym and do heavy bicep curls twice a year and expect to have ripped arms? No! So why is this any different?
It isn’t normal to give of yourself until there is nothing left to give. What is normal though is prioritizing yourself a little bit each day.
Below are 6 ways I integrate self care into MY LIFE. While all of these might not resonate with you, maybe 1 or a few will. To avoid me talking you off your balcony you should integrate the ones you like into your life on a REGULAR basis. Like right now.
I don’t care if you do Crossfit, run, spin, pilates, whatever your thing is, do it and do it regularly. Exercise can help with weight loss, but more importantly than weight loss exercise does so much for your mental health. It improves your self confidence, releases endorphins in your brain which make you happy, it can improve your sleep, and makes you stronger so you can carry the groceries in one trip.
If you don’t know yet what kind of exercise you like yet, start experimenting. Try some classes, join a group, go for a walk. Most importantly though, carve out time for YOU. Put it on your calendar, treat it like its an appointment with another person. You wouldn’t cancel on them, so don’t cancel on yourself.
If you need some workout ideas, I’ve got 5 of them for you. Get them for free HERE.
- I get sleep as much as I can.
Getting a good night sleep with little kids might sound impossible right now. I get it, believe me. I’d love to tell you to make it a priority to get 7-8 hours a night but I know for moms of babies or difficult toddlers that might not be in the cards for you right now (If you’re kids are sleeping through the night though get your butt to bed earlier!).
Here’s an idea that is working at my house…. Once a week (or when I need it) I go sleep in the guest room and let my husband handle baby duty. I am nursing so this requires a little pre-planning, but it is possible. I pump before bed, he gives the babe a bottle when she wakes and then wakes me up when she needs to eat again. This means if I go to bed early enough I can get 6-8 hours of sleep IN A ROW.
Its life changing.
It makes me a nicer human.
I have an incredibly supportive partner who is down to help and I feel fortunate for that. That being said, I have to ASK for this. He doesn’t read my mind and know that I need it, I have to say the words out loud (instead of just hate him on the inside because I’m sleeping and he isn’t).
Give it a try.
- I eat my own food.
Moms… how often does your lunch or dinner consist of a plate of leftover toddler chicken nuggets? Happens to me all the damn time.
And it makes me super hangry.
I’ve noticed that when I’ve prioritized my nutrition and eating enough food on a daily basis, I feel better about myself, I binge on sugar much less, and I physically feel better.
Not even sure where to start in figuring out what a healthy meal looks like for you? Or needing help cutting the sugar? Check out my free email course, #simplestart. I’ve got short videos teaching you the basics of nutrition and exercise.
- I do things for myself that make me feel beautiful.
I like to feel good about the way my body looks and I wouldn’t consider that a bit vain.
Its amazing how much difference a pedicure or a spray tan can make in my mood.
Hell sometimes its just a long bath where I shave my legs.
- I have a tribe
Every mom needs a freaking tribe!
Friends who get the stage of life you are in. People who you can vent to, who are ok with you being slightly ridiculous at times.
Husbands are great, but they seriously don’t get it at times.
You need a friend who you can tell that you flip your toddler off behind their back and also understands why you sob like a little girl when you pack the baby clothes away.
Make mom friends, join a moms Facebook group, get yourself the voxer app, add your friends and walkie talkie each other. You need a tribe.
- I take time for my own personal development.
Being a mom can leave you feeling drained yet at the same time like you are using zero brain cells. Add to that a lack of sleep and you can literally feel like your brain is a black hole where no creative thought will ever exist again (so much for that 4 year degree you spent 100k getting).
It seems to me when I’m reading something that isn’t Green Eggs and Ham I feel more connected to the world. I get insights about ways I could be improving my own life. I feel smarter.
Read a book, listen to a podcast, download an audiobook, or simply journal for 5 minutes a day.
All of the items above may not resonate with you, that’s cool. Find the 1-2 that do and start to implement them into your life as a practice not just once every few months.
Self-care for moms is vital to our overall well being. And while it might be an adjustment for the whole family at first, you taking more time for you, I’m fairly certain it will benefit the entire family. A happier mom yells less, accepts invitations to play more, feels like she has more to give, and mostly is just nicer to be around.
Sounds pretty good to me.
Moms, if you’re ready to make YOUR health and wellbeing a priority you’ve got to get in on #simplestart. It’s a FREE 5 day email course designed to help ditch the overwhelm when it comes to improving your health. I’ll teach you simple strategies to life a healthy lifestyle everyday WITHOUT giving up all the things you love. You’ll find the right exercise for YOU, learn how to read nutrition labels, plus more. Enroll for free HERE.
Note from Heather:
Postpartum depression is no joke. There is a difference between jokingly thinking during a stressful moment that spending time in a hospital with a broken arm would be a nice break and legit wanting to hurt yourself or feeling like you have no escape. If you’re struggling, ask for help. It doesn’t make you weak it makes you strong. Not sure where to find help? HERE is a good start.