Happy Mother’s Day!
We indeed deserve the appreciation and acknowledgement all year round, but we knew when we signed up for motherhood, that it was mostly going to be a thankless job, full of sacrifices, putting others first and walking with our hearts outside our bodies for the rest of our lives. With that reality in mind, I’m glad that we can force ourselves to relax, have our day and bask in the gratitude from the family we hold together at least for one day in the year. Never mind, that I had to remind the husband only 4 times this week that Mother’s Day was around the corner. But honestly, one day in the year is miles away from what we really need.
As moms we find a calling to care for the tiny and not so tiny humans around us. We dedicate our lives to making sure our loved ones are comfortable, comforted, and have everything they need. It’s easy to see why we don’t find the time or ever so lightly entertain the thought of caring for ourselves. But guess what, we need that first, above everything else. It’s like the announcement they make on planes, “ put your oxygen mask first, before attending to your child”. It’s true not just on plane rides but also in our journey of motherhood.
Why is Self-Care Important:
When we think of the time we have and the things that need to get done, there never seems to be enough or an end to it. Maybe you consider the need for self-care, but it’s usually at the bottom of your list or sometimes, it doesn’t even make it to the list. It’s the kids, spouse, family, chores and even the pets first. Seems ridiculous to think that Buddy’s monthly grooming appointment took precedence over your dental appointment, but I know this is true. Spoiler alert; mothers are human beings too. Not all superheroes wear capes. This means, you need rest, time off and breaks just like everyone around you. The truth is, self-care isn’t optional. It’s a necessity.
Having no time for yourself can increase stress, burnout, irritability and exhaustion. On the other hand, taking some time for yourself and your needs can make you a happier, healthier, and energetic mom. When you take care of yourself, you are respecting your needs and being kind to yourself. This act in itself can set a great example for your children.
Tips for Self Care
Just because we know the importance of self-care doesn’t mean it’ll happen for us. Self-care requires intentional planning and choices. If you’re new to it, you might even feel odd or unsure about putting yourself and your needs first. Mothers are often ridden with guilt about prioritising their needs. And even when you get over all these hurdles, there stands the biggest challenge of all, how do you make time for self-care.
Understand that is non-negotiable: Just like you make your child’s and family’s health your priority, you must give the same importance to your own well being. When you accept that self-care is non-negotiable, you will find a way to make it possible. Of course, there can be exceptions, but when you make it part of your routine, you are more likely to schedule proper time for it. Keep your health in check: Starting with eating the right foods and getting enough sleep. As moms we turn our kitchens upside down, to churn out good food for our kids, but we ought to focus on nourishing our bodies just as much. Staying hydrated is also important. Just like you promptly take your child to their annual check-ups, show up for yourself. As mums we inevitably put our own health on the back burner, ignoring symptoms or aches, because we are busy focussing on everybody else’s wellbeing. But remember our child needs a healthy mom first.
Get help: It takes a village to raise a child, and it’s true. Parenting is difficult to manage all on your own, especially, when you play multiple roles of caregiver, working mom, managing your home, your family and everything else. So don’t shy away from asking for help. This, of course, starts with getting your spouse on board. Talk it out to plan for each of you (yes, dads need some time-off too) to get some kid-free time. This will give one parent a chance to spend exclusive time with the child, while the other can enjoy some “me time”. Maybe a grandparent is eager to spend time with your child or a trusted relative has offered to help. Take the help that comes your way. Make it part of your family routine: Nap times they say are God’s gift to parents. And an early bedtime is a bonus. Use this time for yourself. Yes, there will be chores, but give yourself a break every once in a while. The laundry can pile up for a day and cleaning can wait a few hours. Your health and your wellbeing cannot. Enjoy some time off, doing something that makes you happy and leaves you feeling refreshed and recharged.
Embrace your me-time: Don’t feel mom guilt when you’re enjoying some alone time. Everyone needs it and you definitely deserve it. Embrace it wholly. Spend it doing something you love, enjoy and on something that is about you. You could write a journal, read a book, take a walk, connect with your friends. Keep it kid-free. When you come back from your time, you will feel renewed enthusiasm for taking care of your family. Exercise: In recent years, more awareness about the importance of fitness and health has emerged. Many moms have made fitness and workouts a part of their everyday life. That is ideal, but you can start with tiny steps. If you can fit in a workout a few times a week, that’s great and if you can’t, find a way to get moving. With babies, you can push them in the pram or put them in a baby carrier and walk around. With older ones, involve them. You might be surprised to see that they enjoy trying to exercise like you. Spend time in your garden. Get your kids involved too. Start a dance party in your living room or play a game of hide and seek with them. The point is to move your body and get those steps in.
Pursue a hobby: It seems almost ludicrous to suggest moms make time for a hobby, but in reality, a little planning and organization can give you plenty of time for that. To start with, the best way to make time for a hobby is to set aside 10 minutes a day to pick up a hobby. Maybe you can complete just one tutorial on playing an instrument, or read 5 pages of that new book you picked up, or write 3 pages in your journal. And when you’ve made it a habit, you will find more time for it.
Stay connected: Motherhood does change a lot of things. Your time now almost completely revolves around your children and their needs. But don’t forget to make time for your spouse and the other important relationships in your life. Date nights with your partner can ensure you keep your marriage in focus. Making time to connect with your friends, be it over a video call or coffee at your favourite hangout can be re-energising. And planning dinners with other families with kids can be entertaining for you as well as good company for your kids.
While it sounds ideal to schedule a day at the spa or a night out with your friends, sometimes, circumstances may not be in our favour. However, we must remember to carve out the time for self-care, and it can start with tiny steps in the right direction. Our children look up to us and we don’t want them to think they need to put everyone else’s needs ahead of their own. So do it for you and for the family you are raising. Be kind to yourself and take good of yourself and of course, not just on Mother’s Day.