If you want to be confident in how you look and feel, be healthy, live happily, and have the energy to play with your children day in and day out, then the one non-negotiable as a Mom is prioritizing self-care. By making your own wellbeing a priority, you are able to nourish your mind, body and soul each day, guilt-free. Building a balance life is possible with intention and self-care. These are non-negotiable self care practices every Mom needs and shouldn’t live without when you’re raising a family and trying to stay sane.
After I go upstairs and finally get the kids to settle in and fall asleep, I finally plop down on the couch. I close my eyes for a minute. My body is tired and beat down from the day.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror coming down the stairs; my mascara smudged under my eyes and my ponytail now loose and lopsided.
As tired as I am, the list of things I still have to do pushes me up and I head for the kitchen to load the dishwasher and then fold two loads of laundry. I know the bathrooms should be cleaned, but if I do all of these things, when I finish, it’ll be time to go to bed myself.
There will be no time for me.
Do I do all the things around the house and or do I let the bathrooms smell funky for one more day and handle them tomorrow?
The constant chatter in my head weighs home responsibilities against self-care, and most times it picks the clean bathroom over the book I want to bury myself in.
Why do I always pick the no-fun, obligatory house stuff over the healthy hobbies which help me relax, feel good deep down in my soul, and soothe me after a long day?
I know this isn’t just me because Moms I talk with everyday allay the same thing. We often find ourselves on the bottom of the list. Heck, sometimes we don’t even make the list.
But the truth is… If we want to give our children the best, and put our best self out to the world day after day, it’s the intentional choice of putting ourselves on the list – if not first on the list – because otherwise, life is going to be spent going through the motions joylessly. This is where the slippery slope of mom burnout becomes a real possibility, although it doesn’t have to get this far when you have the right self-care practices in place.
If we want to feel and look good, be healthy, live with joy, and have the energy for our children we have to prioritize our own wellbeing. They are non-negotiables more often than naught we push to the back burner for the random occurence we find ourselves with a little extra time.
But If we want to master the juggle of family, career, faith, love and health, then the key is to be purposeful in the choices we make to feed our mind, body and soul each day.
Designing a balanced life is not built by chance – it’s built with intention and grit. These are the non-negotiable self-care practices every mom shouldn’t live without.
1. Ditch the Mom Guilt Forever
The tug-of-war between what you feel you should be doing versus what you want to do can lead to a whole unhealthy cycle of Mom Guilt.
When you take time for yourself, don’t feel bad about it. The positive energy you are creating for yourself will be paid forward to those your love the most around you. If you are trying to pour from an empty cup, you won’t have anything to give to those who depend on you.
Being a Mom comes with a whole new set of important responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean you have to give all of yourself away, or shutter in who you were before you had kids until they grow up and you’ll have time to be you again.
Be you now. Set your own goals, chase your dreams, prioritize your health and happiness because it’s crucial to you being a happy and whole person, but also because your children are watching you. They not only want you to be a happy Mom and to have the energy to play with them in the backyard, they will repeat this pattern when they are parents too unless you show them how to love themselves and have your own joy without the strings always attached to your children.
2. Take Care Of Your Body
The phrase, “your body is a temple” is important to remember as you make yourself a priority. Treat your body well.
Feed it healthy, nutritious food that makes you feel good, not tired and dumpy. Listen to your body and how the food you eat makes you feel. Eat nutritious food so you feel energized and vibrant.
Remember, your kids are watching how you treat yourself and what you put in your body. When you nourish yourself with healthy food, your kids eating the same foods will become second nature. Go to Farmer’s Markets on the weekend, ask for their help preparing meals, plan for a handful of vegetarian meals each week and opt for fresh, nutrition-packed snacks instead of sweets and carbs.
Exercise. You may need to create a better workout routine, are bored with your current one and want to shake things up, whatever is the case, just move every day. Pick your activities that make you want to do them consistently.
Sign up for a new class, join a different gym, wrangle some girlfriends who will walk with you. Hire a personal trainer, try a new yoga style, sign up for a 5k race, go swing dancing or buy a trampoline for your backyard just for your own selfish reasons while the kids are at school. If you can only squeeze in 15 minutes, don’t feel bad it wasn’t a full hour. 15 minutes is better than none and it all adds up.
3. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.
How many times do you put off going to bed or you plan to wake up early so you can “get things done.” Chronic sleep deprivation leads to poor health, or worse.
Get enough sleep so you have the energy you want and need for the day. Stop trying to squeeze in so many Netflix shows at night just because your kids are asleep. Go to bed on time so you can get 7-9 hours of sleep and wake up ready to knock it out of the ballpark.
Sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, increase in appetite, and even an increased risk of depression, cardiovascular disease, and Type 2 diabetes. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to skip workouts and eat crappy things, and you’ll feel even worse!
Stay away from stimulating food with caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and screens which can all throw off your sleep.
4. Don’t Fall Into the Mom Comparison Trap
Comparing yourself – your parenting, home, car, diaper bag, clothes, and body – to other Moms can send you down a rabbit hole of negative thinking. Your thoughts become who you are, so don’t pollute them with negative ideas concocted from comparing yourself to others.
Life is hard. Every person, no matter how perfect they appear on the outside, has something that they struggle with that you don’t know about, nor should you. Every Mom does the best they can.
If one Mom breastfeeds and one mom formula-feeds, it doesn’t matter. If one Mom feeds her kid organic and one goes through the drive-through, it doesn’t matter. If one mom volunteers for the PTA and one Mom doesn’t, it’s Ok. If one mom makes homemade Halloween costumes and theater buys them off the rack, they’re both OK. If one Mom works and one Mom Stays at Home, it doesn’t matter. What one person does, does not make them a better mom than You or anyone else because they are doing their best for their own family.
What matters is that your own children think you are the BEST MOM, these are the only people you need to worry about.
We each have our own struggles in life, but falling into the comparison trap only makes life harder and filled with negative thoughts. Focus on you and what you’re doing that works best for your own family.
5. Schedule Those Appointments
You’re diligent about scheduling check-ups and dentist appointments for your kids aren’t you? When your kids are sick or say something hurts, you take them to the doctor. But how often do you just push past your own body’s signals that something needs medical attention or your own annual check-up?
Don’t ignore your health before things take a turn from OK to bad. Schedule your annual exam, make the appointments, see your dermatologist, visit the eye doctor, get your dental exam and cleanings and mammograms. Your health must be made a priority too!
6. Don’t Lose Your Identity: Stay Connected to Who You Are
When you begin running through your day to day routines (school, making meals, activities, homemaking, etc.), it becomes easy to lose yourself. The shelf-life of carpool and playdates will only last so long, but when this ends, you don’t want to be a shell of your former self.
Figuring out your identity now that you’re a Mom is one of the most challenging tasks you’ll face. You want to hold onto who you were before you were a Mom, but becoming a Mother has changed you in unexplainable ways.
Figure the things out that you love to do, outside of mothering that still make you, YOU. Pursue hobbies. Schedule dinner dates with girlfriends. Journal. Read. Sign up for a class. Plan adult outings. Meditate. Do a date night. Paint.
Not only do you need to be intentional about staying connected to yourself, but connect with other women where you aren’t talking about your children and how your baby isn’t sleeping through the night.
7. Find Your Thing: Be a Happy Mama
Fast-forward a couple years when your kids are all in school or they leave the nest… what are you going to do then? What would you love to do? Can you create baby steps leading up to this time?
Think about what you loved to do before you had children and find ways to integrate this into your life and “me time.” This doesn’t necessary have to be a job you had before you had children, it could be a passion you never pursed. When you spend time doing things that bring you joy, you’re happiness will grow exponentially.
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Taking care of the needs of your children is important. Being a good partner is important. But you can’t do these things and be this person who meets the needs of others, unless you take care of yourself first. Don’t feel guilty about doing what you need to do to feel lovely on the outside, and on the inside.