The Importance of Self-Care
In lieu of the holiday season, my family and I put up Christmas decorations and made gingerbread houses and people yesterday. It was supposed to be a fun activity for all. Unfortunately, it became a stressful task as I maintained my mommy duties such as cooking breakfast, washing dishes, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, preparing dinner, etc. The children dressed the tree as I decorated the house. Every five minutes they were asking questions or getting distracted. I had to repeat multiple times, “Don’t put all the ornaments in the same area and all at the top. The tree will fall over!” Do they follow instructions? No, of course not.
My significant other helped with the laundry, but he was just as worrisome as the children. His main focus was on the sports games of the day he bet on; so, he was halfway doing everything until he finally stopped altogether. Everyone meant well, but by 4 p.m. I was tired, irritated, and just wanted to get away.
What did I do to relieve myself? I took a nap. That’s right. I stowed away to my office, grabbed a book, water, and my blanket then took a nap. I didn’t fall deeply asleep. I rested to gather my mind and my peace. When my youngest daughter started searching for me and yelled, “Mommy!” all over the house, I refused to answer. When I did not answer her fifth call, my SO found me in the office, “Baby.” I continued to pretend I was in a deep sleep. I needed my time. I needed my peace.
We as moms tend to feel we have to be any and everything to everyone in our unit. We will run ourselves ragged to make sure they are taken care of and happy. This is an unhealthy trait, because when we are not at our best, we are not actually beneficial to our family. When mommy is down, so is everyone else. It is important to recognize when you are reaching your breaking point. If you don’t, the stress will wear at your mind, body, and spirit. You will find yourself anxious and irritable. The stress will begin to reduce your immune system and cause you to get sick in some form. We all know mommies do not get sick days. Not only that, the stress unchecked will start to break your spirit. You will feel as if you will never have peace. You will begin to resent your family and nit-pick everything they do.
Do yourself a favor and take care of yourself.
Heal Your Mind
Acknowledge even Supermom needs a sidekick. You will undoubtedly have those moments where it all seems too much. Do not be afraid to ask for help and advice on how to make things easier.
Don’t strive for perfection. Instead, strive for inner peace. You do not have to be the perfect family with the perfect home and life. Expecting yourself to live up the standards of society will kill you. It is impossible. It is a facade. Make your family and home what you want it to be. Be what makes you happy and at peace. It is okay to be unconventional.
Forgive yourself when you fall short. When things don’t go as planned, forgive yourself and your family. We are human and fallible. We can always do better; so instead of beating yourself up when you fall short, learn from the mistake and encourage yourself to do better next time.
Heal Your Body
Listen to your body. Your body will give you indicators that it needs to recharge: headaches, irritability, feeling run down, anxiety, pains, upset stomach, etc. As hard as it may be, adhere to the internal warning. You can stow away, if even for five minutes, to take a time out. You can rest or nap. You can exercise. It does not have to anything strenuous like HIIT. It can be as relaxing as yoga and stretching. I was told by my therapist years ago, doing at least 20 minutes of an exercise that elevates your heat rate will cause your body to increase cortisone which will in turn help you sleep better. Better sleep means your body will recharge more effectively.
You can also do a fun activity, like playing a game, riding a bike, or dancing.
Eating properly is also important in staying healthy and keeping those bugs our little ones like to share away. Do whatever will help your body stay healthy, reenergize, and keep you going.
Heal Your Spirit
The ultimate goal is to maintain your peace and happiness. Think about your favorite things that bring you joy. Light a scented candle you love. Go to your restaurant or café of choice to get that treat that makes your tummy smile in gratitude. Listen to that song that makes move every part of your body and that always puts you back in a good mood. Buy or smell your favorite flower. Read the book you have been putting off. Indulge in an art project.
It is also important to maintain your social life. Allow yourself to spend time with friends with or without the children. Your friendships help you to not get so caught up in being “mom” that you forget about being “you”. They are the ears to hear your struggles, hopes, and accomplishments. They are your support system.
It is also good to continue or begin a hobby. Hobbies help you maintain a sense of self, just like friendships and me-time.
Another trick you can try to alleviate some of the stresses of life is to create a schedule or routine. It has been proven routines ease the stress children may develop from constant change. Having a routine within your household will create a sense of expectancy in those involved. It will let everyone know when something will be done. After 14-21 days, it will become a habit, therefore, making your life easier. Scheduling your me-time, family time, and other events in your life will ensure you make that time available and let your family know when to expect you not to be at their every beck-and-call. Make sure to have them respect your time by keeping your schedule.
All of these ideas are things I have done myself, read up on, or have been suggested by my therapist. Try what you are interested in and works well for you and your family. Not everything is for everybody. Happy Mommy-ing!