In this “have it all” society in which we live, it comes as no surprise when I ask moms the following question and subsequently get a blank stare:
“When was the last time you took some time just for you?” To get a massage, read a book - just for fun. Create a vision board, go to yoga, or have a girls’ getaway? Yes, it becomes a deer in the headlights moment more often than not, as I await a response.
As moms, we take on a lot. Is it even possible to successfully handle our day-to-day lives, relationships, family and career responsibilities, without losing sight of ourselves? I want moms to know that it is, in fact, possible. They don’t have to be overwhelmed and exhausted, more often than not. They just need to know the importance of taking the time to take care of self -first.
Why is self-care important?
Many moms are consumed by a desire to be the perfect parent and by feelings of guilt when it appears as though perfection has alluded their efforts. The pressure of the guilt then result in them putting everything and everyone on the front burner, while their needs and wants become secondary, at best. Guilt leads to stress and stress and depression are key risk factors for heart disease, the leading cause of death in women in the United States.
Yes, you can be it all, do it all and have it all. However, doing so often comes with sacrifices. It does not make you less of a woman to know that when you are at the "edge of almost" (my term for ready to scream – or worse) how important it is to step back, breathe and reassess your workload.
Realistically you can’t effectively love on or nurture others, if you don't love properly on yourself. How can you expect others to love you, pamper you, when they rarely witness you loving yourself? Self-care is not selfish. It's a must. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and you must put on your oxygen mask first and dispense with the guilt. Motherhood my dear, is not where dreams (or self-care) go to die.
It is so important that we accept the fact that no BFF, no family member, and no man can love, honor, or define our self-worth or self-care needs better than we can. Stressed out moms can be their worst enemy sometimes, but with some minor behavioral and mindset shifts, they can quickly become their own rescue.
Here are four easy tips, based on the word self, to help you on your journey back to you. Back to a time and place when your self-care was a non-negotiable priority.
S – SCHEDULE time to simply be still and silent. Apply the same due diligence and focus on planning and scheduling your “me time,” as you do to planning and tracking your children’s activities. When is date night with your partner (if there is one) or the next girls’ night out activity? Is that on your packed family calendar? Don’t forget to reconnect with some of your pre-mom relaxation activities periodically, either. Remember, happy mom, equals happy home!
E – EMBRACE YOUR HUMANITY. Superwoman is a fictional character with super powers. You, mom, are a human being. Moms tend to live day-to-day, despite the best- laid plans. Addressing the crisis of the moment, adding to their already stressful existence. Accept the reality that your family needs you long-term, not just short-term and they can’t love you six feet underground. Or vice versa.
L- LEAD BY EXAMPLE–Teach your children what it means to practice self-care and the importance of making yourself a priority, rather than having them assume that burnout and chaos are standard components of life. You are your children’s mirror. They rarely listen to what we have to say. However, they are masters of mimicking what we do. Give them a great, positive show!
F-FORGET ABOUT IT (I’m from Brooklyn, so it’s more like Fahgettaboudit!) - Forget about trying to parent out of your lack, or your desire to live vicariously through your children. Forget about trying to keep up with the Joneses, or what some magazine says you should be providing or doing for your children. Does he or she really need to enroll in another class, study another language or play another sport? All at the expense of your mind, body & spirit? You can be, do and have it all – however not without some form of assistance. Be not afraid of that four-letter word – H-E-L-P. Release the guilt and be OK with being perfectly imperfect. You’re still a great Mom, and your kids will love you nevertheless!
If you’re a mom who is guilty of placing herself last on the list, check out these additional self-care tips: Welcome to Your Journey Back To You: 25 Days of Self-Love