For some reason, it’s become a badge of honor in our society for moms to be overworked, under-appreciated, exhausted, and burnt-out. The running joke seems to be, “Yeah, well, once you have kids you never sleep again. Better start drinking coffee!” Too many people figure that once we have kids, our own needs are no longer a priority. We make those sacrifices for the sake of our kids’ well-being, right? But what kind of life is that? What kind of example is that to our kids?
As my daughter’s needs have become more complex and as I’ve begun preparing for kiddo #2, I’ve realized more and more the importance of self-care. Margaret is not going to thrive emotionally if her mommy is constantly stressed, exhausted, and short-tempered.
It’s critical that we moms incorporate self-care as a non-negotiable in our lives. It has to happen. If our cup isn’t full, we have nothing to pour into others’ cups. When we suffer, everyone suffers.
Here are 8 tips for mommy self-care:
- Learn to say no and practice often
- Saying no is one of the best forms of self-care. We don’t have to be everything for everyone, nor should we be.
- In her New York Times Bestseller The Best Yes, Lysa TerKeurst discusses the importance of saying no to even good things so we can give our “best yes” to the great things.
- Stop saying “I don’t have enough time”
- You will never have enough time. You must MAKE time. If something is important enough to you, you will make the time for it. Don’t expect an extra hour to appear out of nowhere. Be disciplined enough to build in time for self-care.
- Establish a routine
- What is it that rejuvenates you? Whatever it is, incorporate it into your day. You might enjoy reading before bed. Maybe sipping your coffee while watching the sunrise sets the perfect mood for your day. Is running your outlet? Schedule it. You may not feel like you have the time, so you’ll need to make the time (see #2).
- Give yourself permission to have “me time”
- Don’t feel guilty about taking care of yourself.
- If anyone is giving you grief for it, explain that it’s a rhythm you’ve established so that you can be at your best as a mother and a wife.
- Budget for it
- Maybe a monthly massage is what keeps you going, but the budget is tight. You don’t have to say no to your massage (or movie night, or Saturday morning Starbucks). You simply have to budget for it. Just like making the time for self-care, you can make financial room for expenditures if they’re important enough to you.
- Do what works for you
- Self-care means different things to different people. My brother in law runs, even in below-zero wind chills. To some people that sounds like cruel and unusual punishment, but running is his outlet. Some like to knit. Getting that extra hour of sleep may be the most luxurious thing you can imagine. Whatever relaxes your body and rejuvenates your spirit, go for it.
- Discuss it and establish boundaries
- Have a conversation with your spouse and kids. Explain the importance of what you’re doing and how it benefits them in addition to you. Set boundaries, respect them, and explain the importance of others’ respecting those boundaries.
- Encourage it in others
- Encourage your husband to establish a routine for self-care as well. He needs it just as much as you do.
- Encourage self-care in your children. If you notice that coloring seems to center your child or serve as an artistic outlet, foster that. Help your kids find what keeps their cups full.
Whatever self-care looks like to you, make it happen. I like the image above because it features a variety of forms of self-care. Consider taking an index card and writing out something similar, featuring what you can do for self-care. It can be one or many things. Keep it somewhere visible as a reminder to yourself to keep filling your cup. When you’re feeling your best physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, you’re at your best to be a strong, passionate, fun-loving mom.