Motherhood and Self Care – 8 Tips For Caring For Yourself While Caring For Those You Love

It is very easy as a mother/parent to neglect one’s own self-care. The competing demands of maintaining our children, while also juggling the countless other roles and responsibilities inside our lives and careers, can leave hardly any time left for self-care activities (or inactivities because the case might be). Self-care and self-nurturing are foundational to 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 additionally ourselves.

In many ways, we ultimately love and care for others, to the extent we love and look after ourselves. Many of you reading this article are very proficient at being “other focused”, looking after the needs of children, partners, aging parents, friends, neighbours, and perhaps also clients, patients and students if your projects on the planet involves helping or supporting others. Again, the extent to which you can fully show up by yourself behalf, will be reflected in the distance you are able to support others to take in terms of their health and well-being- together with your children. A wise woman once said to me, “we only take people so far as we have gone ourselves.” As , you want to take children the great distance towards their health, well-being and happiness, hence a journey we have been called to make ourselves.

Being a mother, is the most complex, amazing, exhausting, and meaningful work that I’ve ever done in my life so far. All of the tending, loving, giggling, clearing 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 think 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 ears as I was introduced, seconds away from having to say something brilliant (or at least not foolish) to individuals sitting at round tables with 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 That is hard work! Motherhood, if you ask me, is hard, easy, natural, challenging, joyful, soulful and frequently invisible work.

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

Do everything you love – in the event that you only can create half an hour a day to take care of yourself – choose activities that you truly love to do (what really fills you up, inspires you, nurtures you, supports you – choose these things!) – it will make it easier to get to them. Yes, running 5 kms would be good, but maybe you would prefer to 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 in to 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 elements 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 each day – but overall you tend to them throughout a week, per month – this is integration.

Give yourself permission 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 need to give yourself permission, absolute endorsement, to look after yourself. This WILL mean walking away from other things to claim this time for yourself – this guilt free, essential time on your own devoted to tending to your wellness and replenishment.

Ask for the thing you need and want – we need support from our family, friends and colleagues to put self-care up front in our lives. One way to understand this support is to not leave it to chance or default, ask for it, be clear and specific in the thing you need from others to assist you achieve your self-care goals. Be sure to also ask ways to 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 lot of thought and preparation to your self-care activities, you’re much less more likely to actually continue with getting down to it. It is a lot easier to have routines for the self-care – for example, you know 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, responding to more email, etc. you are moving your system and having a break!)

Say YES to rest – most Moms I know are tired – and for good reason. Getting some sleep plus some rest is key to having the energy and mindset to have a tendency to other self-care activities. In case you are feeling depleted, run-down, exhausted – it is OK to make rest your number one priority! Your energy will rise, you will feel better by getting some rest. Depending on how old your kids are, what stage of sleep deprivation you might be in as a parent, rest might need to be the ONLY think you’re trying to do in effort to deal with yourself. It’s OK to have just one thing on your own self-care “to do” list!

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