Moms are so good at caring for their families, but when it comes to themselves not so much.
The first thing you need to learn is to say no. You may want to do everything that comes your way inside and outside the family, but, sometimes, let someone else step up to give yourself some “me” time.
Second, you have to build time for yourself into your calendar. If someone asks you to do something, even one of your kids, check it with your own calendar to see if it fits. No one ever said you need to do everything your kids ask. Remember that you’re a great mom who is giving them plenty of time.
“Whether it’s date night with your partner, a girl’s night out, or a stress-free evening in the bathtub and a good book, schedule your time into your calendar,” Michelle LaRowe writes for Momtastic.
Set aside at least 20 minutes each day to decompress and care for yourself and at least one night a month to do something for you, LaRowe adds. That’s how you recharge to be at peak performance for your family and friends.
A study has found that while you pour yourself into your family, you retain your strength through four factors: unconditional acceptance, feeling comforted when needed, authenticity in relationships and friendship satisfaction.
The researchers say that relationships with spouses are important but don’t determine mothers’ satisfaction in life. Rather, it’s the “strong, protective power” of other close relationships such as friends, who act as support groups.
“Results of this study provide a critical corollary to a homily that has been widely accepted across generations and continents: ‘A mother's job is never done,”’ the authors say. “Stated simply, our findings indicate that, as mothers must tend, so too, must they feel tended themselves.”
Self-care in Jennifer Berney’s house means that laundry will be overflowing from a basket because she won’t give up a little of her time while the kids nap. She’s okay with serving “grilled cheese with carrot sticks for dinner three nights in a row” if it means she has time for a walk, she writes in Brain, Child magazine.
It means she’ll ask for help and tell someone: “I can’t do that.”
“Self- care means that my kids have learned to trust and love other grown-ups in their lives because I often carve out time to myself,” Berney adds.
She and other mothers have learned to get over the guilt from not sacrificing their own time to take care of someone else, likely their kids.
In a bit of sarcastic humor that’s actually meant to make a serious point, Ashley Eder, a psychotherapist in Boulder, Colo., notes that your relationship with your kids isn’t symbiotic, but parasitic. It isn’t a mutual relationship.
“Yes, your children are — adorable [and] beloved — parasites, and you are the host, and that’s normal and healthy,” she tells Psych Central.
It’s demanding and exhausting, and you might feel guilt about
even wanting your own time, but as Eder says, “the survival of a parasite is dependent upon the health of the host.”
This dark humor again makes the point that you have to – need to – make some time for yourself, regardless of your kids, your spouse, and that mound of laundry sitting by the washing machine.
It can be as simple as some solitude, a bubble bath, deep breathing, practicing mindfulness, toning down the high expectations of yourself, and ignoring those who believe that the love you feel for your children is directly proportionate to the time you spend with them.
It can simply be getting outside, exercising, taking a nap, and trying a new recipe, says Confident Mom. It’s getting some decent sleep, being creative, listening to your favorite music, or reading for pleasure.
“If you can’t think of what your self-care activity might be, try this: what do you do when you’re procrastinating?,” Andrea Fox writes at Psychology Today. “When you need to do a mundane task, do you find yourself instead working on a jigsaw puzzle, talking on the phone, pursuing Pinterest, or going outside to shoot some hoops?”
“Whatever you do when you’re supposed to be doing something for someone else, well,” she says, that just might be your thing.
May 23, 2016
Janet O’Dell, RN