Last week, I was struck by an idea I read on Up Above the Rowan Tree. Nadine said something along the lines of: “If our children are born persons, then I, as a mom, am also a person” Huh. If I am a person, then I also have basic needs. I am so often seeing to my children’s needs that I completely ignore my own. I’m talking really basic self care here.
The term self care can seem so lavish, so indulgent. It often refers to days spent at the spa or weekends spent in solitude. That sounds amazing, but that is not going to happen during my current stage of life. Basic self care is also important- especially if you are like me. Basic self care means that I care for myself in much of the same ways that I care for my children. After paying attention to what I do for my children but deny myself, I’ve learned some ways that I can be better about self care.
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This one might seem a little silly, but sometimes I pass on the healthy foods to save them for my children. (Such a sacrifice to reach for the chocolate instead, right?!) Sometimes that pear in the fruit bowl looks delicious, but then I think about how my little ones would love to eat that for a snack, and I choose something else. If children need healthy foods, grown-ups do, too.
Also, this applies to lemon yogurt. Nobody likes the lemon yogurt in our Noosa yogurt packs, but guess who always eats it? Mom. I understand the beauty in self-sacrifice, but I shouldn’t have to eat the leftovers that no one wants all the time. No more variety packs for us.
So many times, I head out the door with water bottles filled to the brim for each of my children. Then, after time spent walking outside or playing hard, I realize that I didn’t fill a water bottle for myself. A dehydrated mom means an exhausted mom, and an exhausted mom means I’m not giving my best to my family.
We are serious about sleep in our house. A late night or a missed nap means we are ALL out of sorts. But I don’t make my own sleep a priority.
Similar to night-time sleep, I make rest a priority for my children. Miss H gave up naps a long time ago, but I still make sure she has some quiet time to rest. During that time I’m completing a looong list of tasks. But how beautiful would it be to sit down and rest while everyone else does? Why does that feel like such a luxury?
I know you can relate to this: moms of little ones constantly read to their children! It relaxes them, encourages good conversation, teaches them vocabulary, empathy….this would be a long list to finish! Reading has similar affects on me. It gives me time to process my emotions, learn something, and allows me to sit in the quiet. This simple self care activity gets pushed to the end of the night, when I’m so tired that one or two lines in makes my eyes droop.
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Yep, embarrassingly enough, this one made the list. I make potty breaks and diaper changes such a priority, but I hold off on my own bathroom breaks for as long as possible because I’m needed by someone else. It’s probably a bad habit I picked up as a teacher, when I had to be strategic about when I drank water and could only use the restroom during a couple of quick breaks throughout the day. But I’ve kept it up because it’s easier to keep playing with my children, or to keep snuggling the sick child, than to get up and use the restroom. It sounds ridiculous, because I would never tell a child to just “hold it.”
Take Care of Emotions
I make sure my kids are happy and are feeling safe. Their emotions are a huge priority to me. But my feelings are often set aside for when I find more time…and I haven’t found it yet.
Writing this post has made me realize just how crazy it is to not take care of myself in these ways. I’m going to make self care, in the most basic sense, a priority from now on!