By Sara Regan
Being a mother is one of the greatest gifts in life. It is filled with joy and immeasurable love. We are depended upon every single day to help our children (and husbands) thrive. However, if we are honest, it’s also exhausting, overwhelming and sometimes more frustrating and difficult than we imagined it would be. The kids are fighting or crying, dinner needs to be made, The baby needs fed, the laundry hasn’t been done or folded in days, the baby needs a diaper change, the bills need to be paid, work is calling, the dog needs to go out, you have a toddler pulling at your leg screaming, and the list goes on and on.
Oh yeah, and then there’s you. Who, you might ask? You, the mom. You, the professional. You the entrepreneur. You, the wife. You, the friend. You the daughter. Etc Etc. The one who regularly gets left off the to-do list….
Being a good mother requires us to be loving, nurturing, giving, kind and patient. These are traits that no matter what life seems to throw at us, we somehow manage to pull from our depths to offer our children. The question is, can we as moms offer those same traits to ourselves? As a mother and entrepreneur myself, I’ve learned the importance of self-care. And I also know how difficult it is to make it happen given the reality of life.
So – Why is it so difficult to make time for ourselves when we somehow manage to make time for everyone and everything else?
When we begin to talk about self-care for moms, the issue of guilt often arises. So let’s call it out, like the big elephant in the room: as women, we tend to have an easier time sacrificing ourselves than taking care of ourselves. Am I correct? Most of us would rather drop from exhaustion than face the guilt of caring for our own needs. We give and give and give to everyone but us. But we are forgetting that when Mom is depleted, the whole household suffers. And when you (mom and wife) take care of yourself, you can better take care of others.
For many women, we hear and understand the importance of self-care. This is not the first time you are reading about it I am sure of that. But if I had to guess, you – along with me – do not practice it nearly enough am I correct? The issue isn’t just in knowing what we should do; but the logistics of HOW. How do you fit self-care into an already overflowing schedule? Who has the time, energy or money for spa days, date nights, yoga classes, gym memberships, meditation or new hobbies? On and on the list could…and right now things are even worse due to this virus keeping us all in quarantine. On top of the time we don’t have, now we have all our children home from schools and daycares and are supposed to be homeschooling. We are adding teacher to our neverending “to-do” list.
So what’s a busy mom to do? How do we make time for ourselves while caring for our families, careers and communities? Money is tight, stress is high, how can we not break down.
Here are some practical solutions for putting self-care back on your to-do list without having to drastically alter your life and schedule. These wellness practices have truly helped me (in addition to others) and also impacted my family in a positive way. They’re simple, practical and easy to implement into any busy mom’s lifestyle.
MORNING AFFIRMATIONS AND GRATITUDE – Our day goes how we “feel” it will, so plan to get up and start it right! How we begin our day sets the tone for the rest of it. Waking up early allows for more time, more productivity and more leisure, making our days less stressful. (Not that this is easy because I am by no means a morning person!) Affirmations can be anything you want them to be – as long as they motivate you and are positive in nature. A few I love are:
I am loved, supported and cared for.
Don’t wait for change, BE the change.
I am feeling much richer these days.
I open my imagination to see the best in people and things; I also see the best in myself.
I stand up for what is important to me.
I am beautiful.
I am worthy of love, forgiveness and healing.
I AM a good mom!
I may struggle but I am doing the best I can.
We all struggle with the simple idea of loving ourselves as much as we love our children. When you take a moment to fill yourself with love and support first thing in the morning, you lower your stress levels and begin to tap into your own self-compassion. Writing things down you are grateful for is huge as well. I have an app I found (called Gratitude on Apple) that I use not just in the mornings now, but throughout the day. I set reminders to constantly be noting things I am grateful for and it truly helps even mid day when you are feeling worn down and ready to give up – I promise!!
BREATHING PRACTICE OR MEDITATION – “Smile, breathe and go slowly.” ~Thích Nhất Hạnh
This quote from Thích Nhất Hạnh reminds me to move through my days with more ease and more joy. Anytime you feel anxious, stressed, tired, angry etc – simply breathe into it. My favorite way to breathe is to take a deep inhale through the nose to the count of four, hold for four and exhale deeply for a count of four, allowing your shoulders to drop, your jaw to loosen in a soft smile, and your body and mind to relax.
Regular breathing practices and meditation help to calm the body and still the mind.
Meditation has no “right” way. You are simply sitting with yourself in stillness and quiet (ideally anyway). So be gentle and kind to yourself. Don’t get angry and frustrated when your mind races, but embrace it and then let it go. Even 5 minutes of meditation or breathing can go a long way!
MOVE YOUR BODY – Moving our bodies is not only beneficial for our outer being, but has so many calming effects on our inner being. We all know exercise is VERY beneficial in creating a healthy lifestyle. This goes to say that yes – it can give us that nice figure we want if we are willing to work hard enough and be consistent, but it also can provide us with a balanced inner being. Moving your body can be anything from yoga, walking, dancing, to lifting weight and performing HIIT training exercises.
The key is to use your mind, body and soul creating harmony.
Find something that lights you up. Something you love doing or maybe even something you have always wanted to do but haven’t. Again you do NOT need to spend hours. Just 10 minutes a day can have huge lasting impacts if you stick with it.
So mama, let’s do this! We need to start with us in order to give to everyone else. I know it might seem hard at first, and some days you may only get time for one of these. THAT IS OKAY! Maybe you have other techniques you want to try and that is beautiful and wonderful too! Go for it. We deserve the love and care that we so generously give every single day to others. You deserve to love and care for you!