Self-care is one of those popular things right now that everyone is talking about, but are we honestly doing anything about it? I’ve read so many self-care blogs that mention doing all these things that nobody has time for. And really, as busy moms, is it worth taking that time away just to come back to the real world and have everything in disarray and find ourselves even more stressed than we were before?
I get it. It’s tough being a mom, whether you’re at home with them all day, working all day and coming home to tons of chores to do, or somewhere in between. Kids make life stressful and there’s no way around that. But because you motherhood can get so overwhelming and stressed that is all the more reason to find that me time!
How do we take care of ourselves as moms?
My dear mama gave me some great advice when I had my first son. She said to always be careful to not only have time for myself, but be myself. It’s natural as a mom to want to sacrifice everything you are to give your kids the best life: the best nutrition, the best medical care, the best routine, the best education, the best EVERYTHING. If we aren’t careful, we can end up giving every ounce of ourselves to ensure that these things happen to the destruction of our mental health, relationships and identities.
I’m sure no one is going to argue with me that self-care is important as a mama, but how in the world do we make it happen? As a mother who feels like I have good mental health, plenty of time to do things I enjoy, and am rested and healthy, I’m going to share a few tips with you that have helped me achieve this.
Realize that you don’t have to do all the things
There are a LOT of things to do in the life of a mother. I’ve seen so many posts that list out all the things we are supposed to do as mom’s (according to the media) and it’s actually impossible to do those things when you add up the hours in the day.
It is absolutely vital to your mental health and sanity to realize that you will NEVER be that “perfect” mother (and none of your friends or even the celebrities will ever be either). That perfect mom is imaginary. We work up this image in our heads of who we need to be, but the truth is that we won’t ever live up to those standards.
Adjust your expectations
So get out of your head, realize that you probably have much too high of expectations, and figure out what needs to be done for YOUR home and family. The things that are necessary for your best friend’s family may not be the things that are necessary for your family.
Maybe your friend has a perfect home and makes pinterest-worthy dinners for her family every night. Instead of comparing to the things she does that she cannot do, ask her about her routine and see why she has the time to do those things. It could be that there are things in your family’s life that take up time that she does not have to deal with.
Everyone’s family is different and comparing ourselves without looking at logistics is ridiculous and asking for trouble. Look at your family and life realistically to map out what really needs to get done and how to get there.
Make a routine for the necessary things
There are some things that are the same for every family. We all have laundry to fold, toilets to scrub, kids to feed, and dishwashers to unload. But maybe you can take making the beds off the list, and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you ordered takeout once a week to lighten the load.
Figure out what needs to happen for your family. Write down work and school schedules for your family. Then make a list of projects and chores that needs to get done every week. Separate all of those things into daily/weekly routines so you can get a practical look at what time you really have to work with.
Don’t do things that you don’t enjoy
Obviously, there aren’t many of us who thrive on folding laundry and changing diapers. But, believe it or not, there ARE things in your life that you don’t NEED to be doing. Take some time to really look at your calendar and schedule. What are you wasting time on that is unnecessary? What are you giving your family’s time to that you shouldn’t be? Do the kids really need to be playing 3 different sports, or can they pick their 1 favorite? Do you have to take that yoga class, or can you do it at home and save money and time? Can you say no to that mom group that meets every week?
It’s okay to say no. If you don’t come to terms with this, you will end up being so busy you can’t keep your head on straight and all that busyness will drain you. It’s okay to be busy. But try to fill that time with things that bring joy and life to your family and fill you instead of drain you! Then your time is not wasted, but spent filling you up.
Just say no
To the best of your abilities, try to choose activities outside of the home that fill you up and are a good use of your time. Don’t be afraid to say no to activities, relationships, projects or clubs that are not a good use of your family’s time.
But even at home, when it comes to chores and routine, it’s okay to say no! It’s okay to move a project on your to-do list because you just can’t handle it today. It’s okay to say no to yourself, to your house, to your kids, to your husband. It’s okay to make frozen pizza for dinner. It’s okay to turn on the TV so you can read a book, paint your nails or do a workout. It’s okay to let the baby cry it out for a while because you SERIOUSLY need a hot shower or a moment of silence.
Schedule “You Time”
Wake up 20 minutes early so you can drink your coffee in peace. Put the kids to bed half an hour earlier so you can talk with your husband about your days. Get a babysitter so you can go on a shopping trip by yourself, even if it’s just for groceries. Make a lunch that YOU want and let your kids complain. Go get ice cream, even though it’s not on your diet plan .
One of the best things you can do to avoid mental burnout is to say yes. I like to compare mental health to physical health. When we go on fad diets to lose weight, our bodies go into freak out mode. When you tell yourself that you “can’t have” certain foods or try to restrict calories to a specific amount, your body automatically craves those foods and often we become cranky and obsessed over the diet instead of feeling successful and joyful about our lifestyle changes.
I think it’s the same way with self-care. If we keep going and going and tell ourselves we have to stick to a certain routine or do certain things to be that “perfect” mom/wife/woman, we are going to get burnt out. If we are trying to do all the things with not enough time or energy, we are going to become unhealthy physically and mentally.
Sometimes it’s okay to have that extra 100 calories, or to have a cookie when you’re trying to eat healthy. In the same way, it’s okay to sleep in, to drink an extra cup of coffee, to say no to our kids, to just turn on the tv. Sometimes we have to say yes to what our body is craving because sometimes our bodies just know best… and the best way to stay at peace within ourselves is to do what our bodies are asking for.
Best of luck in your self-care journey, mama. I know the road is tough, but with a good routine and determination, you can do the things that you enjoy again and find peace in this busy life of motherhood.