Mom: Be Good to Yourself!

momAs a mom of 5 children, there are times that I look back and say, “I did okay!” And then there are those other days that I can only think, “WOW, how did I ever get through that?” All in all, I really do feel I did a pretty good job with raising my children. They all survived their childhood and have made it to adulting. They are each unique and have their own strengths and weaknesses, success and failures. With that said, when I look back and think how did I do taking care of me, that’s when I think….”mmmm, maybe not that well.”

As I watch my grown children with their busy growing families and careers, I am learning a lot about taking care of yourself as a mom. There are times that I am giving them advice, but often I am sitting back thinking “now that’s something I did not do and probably should have”. In today’s busy and unsettling times, taking care of yourself as a mom has even more challenges.

Ways to Take Care of Yourself as a Mom

You know when you are on an airplane and about to take off, and the flight attendants demonstrate how to put on the oxygen masks? Think about why they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on before you try to help someone else. Well, it is simple, you can’t help someone if you can’t breathe! So now you are asking, what does this have to do with being a good mom? Actually…a lot! To be a good mom you need to take care of yourself first. This may sound selfish, but I am not talking about extravagant or expensive events. I am talking more about your own self care.

Self care is a basic life necessity. It is a discipline that requires mastery and practice to improve over time. It is creating a balance in your life and really caring about you. This type of self care does not come easy or quickly. It takes time. It takes prioritizing things in your life to help take care of your physical and mental health!

Yes, our children are high on the priority list. But so often, it can be like all we ever do is take care of the kids. Add a working mom on to that…well, you know what that means! It is easy to feel overwhelmed. Being a mom simply means you have limited time to yourself. That is just the reality. Here are a few tips on ways to take care of yourself, and there are so many more. Some of these may sound silly, but if you think about them, many of us will say, “wow, I really do not do that”, or “yup, that is totally me”.

Eat

Do not forget to eat! You need energy. Being a mom is hard and demanding work. By eating I am not referring to grabbing a banana as you rush out the door. Or nibbling on the crackers that were left out from a snack. Eat healthy and remember to drink water! On the flip side, do not beat yourself up for occasionally grabbing some fast food or snacking on junk food. You need to find that balance.

Manage Your Time

Finding balance is so challenging in today’s busy world. Between kids, work, household needs…the day never seems long enough. One of the first things I would encourage you to do is to feel free to say “no”. Why is this so hard for so many of us? I vividly remember saying yes to being on committees while the inner me was screaming, “are you crazy?” Listen to that inner voice. It is real!

Create to do lists or use a daily calendar or planner. I find that checking things off my list gives me satisfaction. It is rewarding to see that I DID get something done! Wall calendars can also be helpful. Dad and the kids can see all that needs to be accomplished and maybe even pitch in to help. I know that when I did not organize my days/weeks it felt like chaos. Chaos leads to stress. Stress leads to more chaos and not a happy mom! Be sure to take time to develop a plan to manage your time.

Take “You” Time

Take time for yourself. Plain and simple you need time to be you, to have time as a married couple. This is probably the one thing that I did not do. I see how important it is now as I look back. It is important to continue to build that relationship with your spouse. It can be helpful to have a team approach when it comes to being parents.

“Team work makes the dream work” is a very appropriate saying when it comes to parenting. So set up that monthly date night. Go out with friends, take a walk, or simply spend 15 minutes of alone quiet time. Do treat yourself to that massage, manicure, or get your hair done. The hard thing for me was to not feel guilty when I did take this time. However, after taking my “me” time, I did feel refreshed and reenergized, which I am sure helped me be a better mom. Find the time to be you, not mom!

Connect

Connect with other moms. Just being able to talk to someone that is in that same place is so helpful. For me it was realizing I was not alone. Having another mom you can spill your guts to and share the challenges and fun times of mothering will help you get through some of those tough parenting moments. These wonder women were the ones that I could count on to help pick up kids when schedules got crazy. They were also the ones I could say I need a break, can you watch my crew for an hour?! Knowing, full well, that I would be returning the favor. There is an old saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”. How true this is and how grateful I still am for that village!

Journal

Face it, being a mom can be stressful. Many times, we are overwhelmed. We worry about our kids, husbands, getting everything done, the list goes on. Our plate is full and to be honest, it does not get easier. As my own children grew, I wished the days of a bandage or a kiss that made everything better could return. I saw this saying, “little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems”. How true it is! Putting some of your worries and thoughts on paper helps get them off your chest. At times it puts things into perspective. At times it was a way to let go, or at least make that gallant effort to let go.

Being a mom is a wonderful adventure. It is fun, wild, exhausting, and so worth the ride. The saying “happy mom, happy home” is true. Work to incorporate some of these suggestions into your day. Be good to yourself and take care of you! For more self care tips, check out the essentials for new or busy moms. Another way to take care of yourself as a new mom, is to make sure your pelvic health is addressed. Click here to learn more about what pelvic health physical therapy is, how it can help, and what a visit looks like.