After the morning rush comes cleanup of the aftermath. I see my cold, full cup of coffee sitting lonely on the countertop. I had hoped to relax and sip a warm drink in peace, but I had a to-do list to take care of now. If this sounds familiar, you, too, might be a busy mom. Time for yourself sometimes slips away.
The daily routines sometimes leave me feeling like I’m going through the motions. During those times, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the addition of temper tantrums, deadlines and chores. These are common feelings, but many of us forget that we’re not alone. Almost every mom I know has told me to “take care of yourself before taking care of others.” I’ve said that many times too. Why is it so hard for me to take my own advice? Why is self-care so much easier said than done?
Motherhood brings with it a shift in hormones, responsibility, lifestyle, etc. It can take time to get back to pre-baby activity levels, and everyone goes at their own pace. Self-care is not something everyone is good at. It is an art. According to the Oxford Dictionary, art is “a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice. ” So the good news is that with practice, we can all get better at self-care. There are basics like good sleep, exercise and nutrition, and when you’re feeling spread too thin, it’s important to learn to say “no.” Socializing seems to revitalize me. However, I turn down many opportunities to do so because I’m too busy [insert excuse] again. It’s easy for me to say “no.” I’m one who needs to say “yes.”
As my last child left the baby stages, I realized that I was caring for everyone else but myself. Self-care was an unnecessary chore, and that took a toll on me. Feeling depleted helped me see that I needed to build myself back up. After tackling the basics, I came up with some reminders that helped me practice more self-care:
My husband asked me why I looked so stressed out while doing dishes. I said, “I hate dishes, just trying to get it over with.” As he put some dishes away, he told me that he set the bird feeders outside the kitchen window, because it would be something nice to look at while at the kitchen sink. I stopped to look out the window and realized that I’ve never actually noticed that. Now more often than not, I watch the birds while I do the dishes!
Give yourself grace.
I never knew fully what grace meant until I started to seek it. I realized and accepted that I was already a good mom. Sometimes we fill ourselves with unrealistic expectations. Instead, fill yourself with truth and be kind to yourself.
This is a great chance to connect with others. It lifts our spirits to be contributing, productive members of the group. It’s contagious, so involving kids as much as possible is great.
A perfect house does not equal happy kids.
New moms are told that housework can wait. This doesn’t just apply to the newborn period, it applies whenever we need it. Being too preoccupied with menial tasks takes away time to re-energize and spend time with those we love.
Ask for help.
Let others know what you need; motherhood is not something we can do alone. Whether seeking help from family, friends or professionals, it’s important to get your needs met and your feelings validated.
Being wonderful caretakers and multitaskers takes it out of us. As moms, we want to give our kids the best. But when we’re not at our best, what are we giving them? An exhausted, uninspired body is not likely to be a vessel of motivation and creativity. We all have our days but remember that the art of self-care is within reach.