The Importance of Self-Care for Mamas
Confession: I am an exhausted, depressed, overwhelmed mom. I love my children, they are truly the best thing that has ever happened to me, but they stress me out. I have been a full-time stay at home mom, though currently I work full time and have the girls part time because I am separated from their dad. While I do get a break from them, I confess that I still come close to losing my mind sometimes. I feel like a failure because I am not Pinterest perfect and I don't have a gorgeous Instagram feed of an amazing I-have-it-together life.
Do you feel like you are going to lose your sanity as a mom? That you are only a mom and have lost a part of your identity that used to be a woman, maybe a wife, a friend? I often introduce myself as Catherine and Lindsey's mom. But I am Heather and I am a pharmacy technician and EMT. I'm a friend and a woman with interests and hobbies and needs.
One way that I mistakenly thought was a good way to unwind was to spend loads of time on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. @@In some ways, social media has set us up for failure as moms and women.@@ How is it, that in a world of social media, online groups and forums for just about any topic imaginable, ways to connect with people all over the world like never before...how is it that we are feeling more lonely and isolated as moms than ever before? This online world was supposed to be our village, our way to connect with others going through similar situations, people with similar world views, even people who we could learn from by understanding their differences. As mothers, we can connect with moms in every walk of life and bond with them, learn from them, gain wisdom, help those who are not as far into the journey as we are. What a beautiful and amazing opportunity we have that our own mothers did not have. This online village that takes the place of the traditional village where families and friends lived close by and helped one another. I don't know about you, but this idyllic world is not what I thought it would be. Please be kind to yourself and do a self-check to see if you have unnecessary guilt due to social media and cut back if needed. You do not need to have a perfect house to invite people over. If dressing up and doing your hair and makeup is your thing, and makes you feel good, do it, but don't feel as though it is a requirement. I promise your friends would prefer to share your presence and people aren't worried about what you look like. @@We are our own worst critics, and we can't care for ourselves if we are too worried about appearances.@@
So @@how do you care for yourself when you daily feel the guilt of perfection@@ or you are in the trenches of motherhood? How do we care for ourselves as women so that we can be sane mothers? What works for me won't necessarily work for you, but I'm happy to share some ways that I recharge. Taking care of yourself is so very important because you need to be able to care for your family. If you have ever flown on an airplane, they instruct you to put on your own oxygen mask in case of emergency before putting a mask on your child. You need your oxygen mask in everyday life in order to care for your children. It is so easy to put our children first, but in the end, doing this will not help anyone. @@Stressed mothers will generally lead to stressed children.@@
My dad calls me an escape artist because one of my ways of caring for myself when I had my kids full time was leaving for a weekend every once in a while or I knew I would go crazy. Or I would disappear into my room for a nap or to read a book. It is difficult to do this as a single mother, although my kids are old enough to watch a movie while I nap or read. Please try not to feel guilty for using the tv or tablet to keep your kids occupied. I load the tablet with educational and quieting games for my children. They know what they can and cannot watch on tv. I watched tv as a kid and played computer games and I turned out ok! I allow this for their own quiet time because it helps me take a break, and I know that for my children, it helps them be calm and cuts down on fighting.
I am part of a writing group. Once a month I can look forward to a meeting of women over coffee and similar interests. The group was started by me. I couldn't find a group to join that fit my needs, so I made one. It is possible that you will have a do a little bit of work to make a place that gives you a place to be, well, you. Even knowing that this event is on my calendar is a way to help me remember during the most trying days that relief is coming.
I am going to list some of the usual advice here, though I will admit that I don't follow it myself. Eat well, stay hydrated, exercise, and get as much quality sleep as you can. All of these are known ways to improve your physical and mental health. I have a fairly life limiting, chronic disease and it is difficult for me to exercise and eat well. If you find yourself in similar circumstances, do what you can. I sleep a lot – likely way more than the average mother. But I have to in order to care for my kids, and it does mean that I say no to a lot of other things I would like to do. But it is essential to my self-care.
Each mother will have her own unique ways to re-energize. Rest is a spiritual discipline. @@Take the time to unwind and take care of yourself, I promise it is possible, and that it is guilt-free.@@
Heather is the mom of two beautiful crazy girls. She works in pharmacy and emergency medical services. She loves homemade cold brew coffee, reading, crocheting, and binge watching Netflix. When she is motivated enough—which is not her greatest strength—she enjoys writing on her blog at http://www.livingthesmallmoments.com. Find her on Instagram.