For week 3 of my wellness series, I wanted to talk about something that I feel is so important for all moms – that we don’t focus on enough! While we are always busy taking care of everyone else, we often let our own self care go by the wayside. But just like we are told on an airplane – in order to help anyone else you really need to put your own oxygen mask on first. Today I wanted to discuss some tips for making sure you are prioritizing your own well being and giving yourself the care you need.
Make time for exercise
When I had my first son, I quickly realized that finding time to work out was a challenge. If I waited for my husband to get home from work, I was often too tired to go to the gym that late, and early morning workouts after being up with a baby felt impossible. I realized that finding exercise that I could incorporate into my schedule and include my baby made things a whole lot easier! I bought a jogging stroller and began going for runs during his nap time (he slept while I ran), and I also started doing mommy and me swim classes and yoga classes. Now that my kids are a bit older, we can do family bike rides, kick a soccer ball around together, or take a family walk or hike. With a little flexibility it is possible to find a way to make regular exercise happen.
Touch base regularly with friends
One thing that isn’t talked about enough, is how isolating motherhood can be. We can all easily get trapped in our own little bubble of family life, but it is really important to reach out for support and adult conversation. It can be hard to find time to talk on the phone, so mom friends and I will often connect by text and just share funny things or vent when needed. It makes it easier to keep in touch over text when you are juggling kids. And try to get out once in awhile too! Even a weekly coffee date/play date with the kids really can be that little break we all need.
When my kids go to bed, I often feel really tired and ready to go to bed myself. But I love this little bit of time to myself so I often stay up way too late – and then of course pay for it the next day. (I think so many moms can relate to this struggle!) Getting adequate sleep is so crucial, and I think it’s important to set a structured bedtime for yourself and make it a priority to get the sleep you need.
Treat yourself to something new
I think it is so easy for moms to stop doing things for themselves and everything becomes about the kids. I know moms who say they haven’t bought themselves anything new in years! Motherhood is often a thankless job, and it’s important to reward yourself from time to time for a job well done. If you find it hard to go shopping for yourself, consider joining a subscription service for something you love (I personally love my Fab Fit Fun subscription!) so that you are forced to get a little treat every now and then. Even just buying yourself a pretty bouquet at the market or treating yourself to that latte at the coffee shop, can really brighten your day! And you deserve it!
Nourish your body
You know how you get busy preparing meals for the kids, and then you end up eating their leftover Mac and cheese when you realize hours later you haven’t fed yourself?! Yep. We’ve all been there. Make sure you are finding time to sit and eat meals (standing in the pantry shoving a few goldfish in your mouth doesn’t count) that are healthy. Have some easy staples on hand – things like overnight oats, egg/veggie casseroles, soups, whole grain bread with lunch meat, Greek yogurts – are all nutritious and can be whipped up into a quick meal in minutes.
It can be really easy to stop going to the hair salon or getting your nails done, but having this bit of time for yourself is so important! Even if you feel you absolutely can’t get away to the salon for a few hours, make it a habit to spend 20 minutes a day taking a relaxing bath or developing a nightly skincare routine.
Learn something new
I didn’t realize how much I would feel a loss of my personal identity after I had my first son. Overnight I became a stay at home mom and all of my career ambitions and personal goals really took a backseat. I really started to feel that I needed something for me…and so I took up a few hobbies that I still do to this day! One was running, and while I don’t do as many races as I once did, I still enjoy regularly running 3-4 days a week. And I always had an interest in photography, and finally bought a camera and took some classes. Photography is something I absolutely love and is a huge creative outlet for me.
Ask for help
Nobody, I repeat nobody, can do it all. We all need help from time to time and it truly takes a village. While I have never had a nanny or had any help with the kids from family, I did come to realize that I needed some help. Years ago we hired a housekeeper who comes once a week to help out and I can’t tell you how helpful this is for me. While it’s just a few hours of help for me each week, it really helps me stay on top of the housework the rest of the week and frees up hours of cleaning time so we can enjoy time as a family instead. Whether you hire some help or simply ask your partner, friends, or family for some help from time to time – make sure you get the help you need.
Avoid the comparison trap
With the rise of social media, I feel that this one has become even tricker. Also there is so much societal pressure on women to be able to do it all, and it can be so hard to be constantly seeing images of perfect appearing women appearing to be perfect mothers, wives, employees, etc. The truth is – we are only seeing the highlight reel of anyone else’s life. Even if you feel that everyone else seems to have it all figured out, I can promise you that everyone is struggling with something. I have a very difficult relationship with my family and have now been estranged from them for several years, and it is hard to constantly see women sharing their supportive relationships with their mothers and the grandparent relationships their kids have with their parents. I even admit to feeling envious of my own friends sometimes when their mothers are so involved and jumping to babysit and doting on their grandkids. I have found a few things that help me when I’m really struggling with this and really hurting. One is to practice gratitude. I know that I have SO much to be grateful for and while I may not have been blessed with loving and supportive parents, I am incredibly blessed to have built my own loving and supportive family. And the other thing that really helps – is to unplug when I have to. If I’m seeing something on social media that is a sensitive spot for me – it’s easy to unfollow. I especially avoid social media a lot around Mother’s Day as it’s a very bittersweet day for me. If something (or someone) is making you feel bad – it’s okay to disconnect.