My mom, bless her heart, was selfless. You know the type. She would rush home from work to make dinner and make sure that the peas didn’t touch the potatoes for my brother, put extra salt in the sauce for my father, make a chicken patty on the side for me because I didn’t like pot roast, and cut up everything for us before even touching her food.
On a good day, her food must have been cold by the time she ate it. But she never complained. She smiled and she was superwoman to us!
What I did see a lot of was temple-rubbing and long sighs. With five children and a husband who often worked out of town, my mom was exhausted.
Where did my mom get the idea that in order to be a good mother, she had to put her children first and forget her needs? It’s everywhere.
Just watch all the Mother’s Day commercials or read the Hallmark cards. They all talk about how amazing mothers are for putting their needs last.
Mothers ARE amazing, and I want to change this idea that in order to be a good mom, you need to never think about yourself! After all, as the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
What is self-care?
Before talking about why we as moms need to practice self-care, I want to talk a bit about what it is. I know that I always thought self-care was about pampering yourself – getting your nails done or treating yourself to a shopping binge.
While self-care can include the occasional pampering session (who doesn’t love a pedicure?!), self-care is any activity that we do deliberately to take care of ourselves. Self-care focuses on mental, emotional, and physical health.
Self-care is not only something that we do when life becomes so overwhelming that we need a time out. It should include habits that we implement consistently and not just a temporary distraction when we are stressed.
So, let’s get into the reasons that busy moms NEED to take time to take care of ourselves.
Reason #1 – It will improve your health
Taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally on a daily basis, will help to improve our physical and emotional health. Remember the last time you were really sick? I do.
I was working more than 60 hours a week and coming home and trying to make elaborate dinners each night, breastfeeding my youngest to sleep, and getting only about 4 hours of sleep myself each night. I ran myself so hard that I ended up in bed for two days!
Sometimes, these are the reminders that we need that taking care of ourselves is not a luxury. It needs to be a priority or we can’t take care of our family! Studies have shown that people who practice self-care consistently, have better health outcomes, including:
o Reduced stress levels and associated cortisol levels
o Better weight-management
o Better self-esteem
o Lower risk for heart-related ailments
o Higher self-reported levels of happiness
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Reason #2 – Self-care will help you get more done
This is one of those things that I know you won’t believe. You are reading this thinking, “Yeah, right. How can I think about myself when I have work, laundry, endless toys to pick up, meal planning to do, etc?”
But have you ever had one of those magical days where you actually got everything done on your to-do list? They are few and far between for me, too, but aren’t they amazing?
When those days happen, I wonder why can’t every day be that way? Obviously, there are external factors – like sick little ones, or unexpected house guests, or over-crammed schedules – that sometimes make it difficult. But the other factor that helps our productivity is our state of mind. If we are in the habit of practicing self-care, we are able to focus better and get more done in the long run.
Reason #3 – You will be a better mom
The problem with trying to be super mom is that most of us can’t do it forever. We have our moments of weakness, exhaustion, and frustration, where we don’t necessarily show our best selves.
Obviously, because we are humans, this is going to happen. But, if we can fit in self-care into our routines, we will find that it happens less often. We won’t feel so burnt out and overwhelmed and we will be able to be present and enjoy our time with our families more.
So, we have to forget this idea that in order to be a great mom, we have to forget about our needs and only think of our children, because, in the long-run, we probably won’t be able to be the best mom to them if we do.
Also, our children are watching and paying attention to EVERYTHING. Remember that time you slipped and said a word you shouldn’t have in front of your kid? You better believe he heard it and repeated for the next week to everyone he saw.
They are also watching and paying attention to what we aren’t saying. They see us when we sacrifice a shower in order to get their lunch made (for the second time since this week they don’t like peanut butter and jelly even though last week it was their favorite lunch) and packed for school.
While we may think that we are doing something selfless and positive, we should ask ourselves this: Would I want my daughter to do this for her children? Would I want her to run herself ragged so they are happy?
I know I wouldn’t. If my daughter has a family one day, I want her to take care of herself so she can be there for them as well.
Reason #4 – You deserve it!
Yes, practicing self-care will make you a better mom. Yes, that’s awesome.
But there’s something just as important…
YOU DESERVE TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FOR YOU!
We get so lost in doing things for our families sometimes that we forget that we are important, too.
When I think about how selfless my mom always was when we were going up, it makes me want to give her a hug and thank her, but also turn back time and tell her to sit down and eat her dinner while it was still at least lukewarm.
I hope this has helped you realize that self-care is an essential part of your life as a busy mom, right alongside snuggling a fever away and making sure your toddler eats enough vegetables before flinging them on the floor next to their scattered toys.
Practicing self-care consistently will improve your health, help you get re-focused and be more productive overall, allow you to be a role model for your children and have more patience with them during trying times, and show you that you deserve to be happy and well cared for.