Ask a mom what she ultimately wants for her children, and she’ll say something like, “I just want them to be happy and healthy.” Ask the same mom what she wants for herself, and she’ll likely give the trademark sigh of a parent who’s forgotten what it’s like to put themselves first.
“Coffee, preferably hot,” comes the joking reply.
It happens to the best of us. Somewhere along the lines of parenthood, we exchange self-care for the care of others, even though we know deep down they have to coexist. We move our needs to the back burner, and then to the counter, and then to a forgotten container in the back of the fridge. Before we know it, we’re exhausted, overwhelmed, flighty, and ragged. We forget what it’s like to feel rested, clear-headed, nourished, and light.
Here’s your friendly reminder.
I’m looking at you, coffee drinkers. You cannot function properly without adequate rest, and you cannot fake it for long. There is no substitute for adequate, uninterrupted sleep, so make this a priority. Talk to your partner, get help where you can, and, of course, sleep when the baby sleeps.
Eat to nourish.
When was the last time you ate a meal that made you feel amazing afterward? While it may be unrealistic to make and eat wholesome, healthy meals every time you sit down (especially when sitting down feels like a treat in and of itself), it’s worth the investment in your energy levels to make sure the majority of your meals have fresh produce, lean proteins, and healthy fats. If you pay attention to how food makes you feel both during and after the meal, you’ll naturally start to gravitate toward positive changes.
Find ways to incorporate movement into your day, every day. Connect yourself to your body as you wake up and stretch into your morning. Feel your core engage when you carry your little ones. Find an activity that leaves you happily breathless, even if it’s just for a few moments. This could take the form of a yoga class, a jog around your neighborhood, playing actively with your kids, or dancing with your partner.
Take your time.
You have no qualms about giving your toddler a timeout, but when was the last time you gave one for yourself? Making time for both quick and extended breaks is critical for proper self-care. These timeouts allow you to check in with your mood, assess your needs, and put life into perspective. You are not “just a mom,” but a woman who is also a mother. And sometimes that woman needs an art class or a night out with friends or a pedicure.
As someone who has witnessed the remarkable benefits of adequate and proper self-care in hundreds of clients, I can assure you that giving care to yourself isn’t a luxury. It’s a basic need. Note that I use the term “giving care” instead of “taking care” for a reason; you take nothing from others when nurturing yourself. You actually create more of the best of it–and you model the health and happiness you want for each of your children, and what your mother had wanted for you.