It is quite easy as a mother/parent to neglect one’s own self-care. The competing demands of tending to our children, while also juggling the countless other roles and responsibilities inside our lives and careers, can leave hardly any time left over for self-care activities (or inactivities because the case might be). Self-care and self-nurturing are key our well-being and effectiveness as mothers (so when human beings). We not only have our kids to love and care for, and our partners where they exist, but also ourselves.

In lots of ways, we ultimately love and look after others, to the extent we love and care for ourselves. Many of you scanning this article are very good at being “other focused”, looking after the requirements of children, partners, aging parents, friends, neighbours, and perhaps also clients, patients and students if your work in the world involves helping or supporting others. Again, the extent to which you can fully show up on your own behalf, will be reflected in the distance you are able to support others to take terms of their health insurance and well-being- including your children. A wise woman once thought to me, “we only take people so far as we’ve gone ourselves.” As mothers, we want to take children the fantastic distance towards their health, well-being and happiness, hence a journey we are called to make ourselves.

Being a mother, may be the most complex, amazing, exhausting, and meaningful work that I have ever done in my own life so far. All of the tending, loving, giggling, cleaning up, getting snacks, changing diapers, running baths, reading stories, teaching, sleepless nights, adjusting, evolving, coordinating, learning and growing is actually mind boggling. I used to believe the toughest job I ever had was as a kid welfare social worker, than I worked in the emergency department of a hospital and thought that was up there in the “this is challenging work” category. Onward to key note speeches and facilitating training programs before a huge selection of people, where my heart would pound loudly in my own ears when i was introduced, seconds away from needing to say something brilliant (or at the very least not foolish) to the people sitting at round tables making use of their name tags on. Then I became a mother and fell to my knees in the humility of the all consuming, miracle of motherhood. Now THIS is hard work! Motherhood, in my experience, is hard, easy, natural, challenging, joyful, soulful and frequently invisible work.

Self-care has a totally new meaning now since how well I care for myself will determine, for some reason, how well I care for my children. That being said, I also notice the more we look after others, the harder it really is to maintain self-care – there may be so many competing imperatives on our time. With deep respect and compassion for this reality, here are a few tips for prioritiizing your own self-care as a mother/parent (if you are not a parent – I hope you find value in these tips as you honour your self-care in the midst of what is true that you experienced).

Do everything you love – if you only can create 30 minutes a day to take care of yourself – choose activities that you truly want to do (what really fills you up, inspires you, nurtures you, supports you – choose these things!) – it will ensure it is easier to reach them. Yes, running 5 kms will be good, but maybe you would rather have a bubble bath – so have the bath!

Think integration versus balance – balance might seem such as a distant far fetched notion when you pack kids into the car, run back in the home to grab your vehicle keys and the lunch bag you forgot on the counter, so let’s reframe balance into integration. Integration implies that the really important parts of your life get some of your attention – and that means you exercise, eat healthy, and make time for self reflection. But perchance you can’t do these things every single day – but overall you have a tendency to them throughout a week, per month – this is integration.

Give to put yourself first – there is always more to accomplish – another load of laundry, more dishes – there’s always something that may take you away from yourself! You must give yourself permission, absolute endorsement, to look after yourself. This WILL mean walking away from other things to claim this time on your own – this guilt free, essential time for yourself devoted to maintaining your wellness and replenishment.

Ask for what you need and want – we need support from our family, friends and colleagues to put self-care up front inside our lives. One way to get this support would be to not leave it to chance or default, ask for it, be clear and specific in what you need from others to assist you achieve your self-care goals. Make sure you also ask how you can support them to be mindful too – this creates a win-win environment for creating and sustaining healthy lifestyles inside our families and in our workplaces.

Create self-care routines and habits – if you have to always give a large amount of thought and preparation to your self-care activities, you are much less more likely to actually continue with getting down to it. This can be a lot simpler to have routines for the self-care – for example, you understand you get a walk at lunch time (period – you protect enough time, you don’t have to find out when you are going to exercise, and while others will work through lunch, giving an answer to more email, etc. you are moving the body and having a break!)

Say YES to rest – most Moms I know are tired – and once and for all reason. Getting some sleep and some rest is key to having the energy and mindset to have a tendency to other self-care activities. Should you be feeling depleted, run-down, exhausted – it is OK to make rest your number 1 priority! Your energy will rise, you will feel much better by getting some rest. Depending on how old your children are, what stage of sleep deprivation you could be in as a parent, rest may need to be the ONLY think you are attempting to do in effort to take care of yourself. It’s OK to have just one thing on your own self-care “to accomplish” list!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *