The topic of self-care is thankfully a growing conversation these days amongst the internet world. Us moms are crying out for air and encouraging others to follow in suit. Do you know the signs that you need a refresher in self-care?
Feeling burned out. Where did your passion go for what you do and love?
Easily Angered. Suddenly we have attitudes like hormonal teens.
Feeling “touched out.” Carrying the baby all day on your hip while having a toddler cling to your leg and then when they finally go to bed your husband wants his share of you. Nope.
Feeling guilty. Shouldn't we love this life as a mom? But, I can't leave them... I have to be the one here.
Physical appearance. Not getting dressed until later each day? Always found in yoga pants or leggings (Lularoe doesn't count, those are definitely real pants!) with your husband's old t-shirt? Something needs to change.
Why is self-care so important? Because you need to take care of you, my friend. This is one of the most essential tools I have learned as a mother of four, and it took three kids to truly grasp it and understand why. When we give, give, give, and never fill up ourselves – with our own passions, interests, time, nutrients – we eventually have nothing left to give to others. Suddenly our luster for this life we've created is dull. We become snippy moms, feeling like a human toddler scratching post. We know we need time away, but then feel guilty for wanting that time. Don't we love our kids? You do. I do. However, if we let our kids suck out all our energy and air, we are left with nothing. And then? We can't love them the best we can.
Here's a tip: Don't feel guilty. Value yourself and your worth, so that you can then value your time with your family when you return. It is incredibly refreshing. When I had my third child, I literally felt attached to her. I couldn't stand to leave her, and I felt trapped in some ways. She wouldn't take a bottle, she didn't sleep well at all, and so I became a very bitter, depressed momma. I felt like I was “just a mom” and had lost the pieces of me that made me me – a crafter, a listener, a friend, a reader, and a writer. Thankfully I had a husband who saw this need in my life and actually forced me out to sit at a coffee shop to write for two hours in between feedings or crafting dates with friends once a week. Now three years later we will have this “rule” for us each to have one night a week all to ourselves – he usually plays a sport once a week, while I enjoy a weekly bible study or writing time.
So, what exactly does self-care look like? It's more than just the physical act of it, like drinking enough water, not saving all the healthy fruit for your kid's afternoon snack (guilty...), exercising (which is known to boost endorphins and make you feel happier too!), and getting enough sleep. Those are also vitally important, but there is so much more than that. Self-care reaches the essence of your core, of who you are as a person outside of motherhood. It is connecting to your community and getting out of the house – without children – to just be you. Go have a cup of coffee with a friend. Go shopping alone. Take a walk after dinner and breathe in the fresh air and embrace the silence. It is indulging in your favorite treat or allowing yourself to sit for 30 minutes to read a book. Join a self-care subsription box to make it even easier. Have a retreat weekend once a year. For me? It means I set aside time each week to write. Oh, how it fills me up! I walk out of my office into the face of the dinner-time hungry lions ready to take on the mundane task with a spark of delight because I just accomplished something that makes me feel like I create a wave of difference outside the walls of my home.
And let's touch on physical appearance for a second. This isn't to say we need to go back to the ‘50s with A-line dresses, heels, and pearls daily. Nope. I'm all for comfy pants and a t-shirt, trust me. Ninety percent of my time is spent at home with four kids, only getting out to see the car pool line or the grocery store, so I fully utilize the ever-growing trend of leggings as pants. But let's not forget how good it feels to put ourselves together even once a week in “real” pants or a hairdo that isn't a messy bun (or side braid, as mine always is). A new confidence and happiness emerges when we take a little extra time to feel our best in our skin. You've still got it, momma. Your spouse will thank you, too.
What fills you up? What do you love? I challenge you to write down 10 things you can do this week to love on yourself. It doesn't have to cost anything, and it doesn't even have to take much time to do! But, I promise you will reap the benefits and so will your family. It isn't selfish; far from it. Often Momma's mood sets the tone for the whole household. If you feel happier and secure in yourself, your mood will reflect that. It will show in how you respond to your kids and family with more patience (I said more, it isn't a fool-proof plan for patience perfection!). It will show in the pep in your step as you complete the humdrum tasks of motherhood. The joy of having a full cup to pour out into others is worth the effort. It isn't an indulgence to do what you love and take care of yourself – it is a necessity. Enjoy this life you are in.