You’ve seen the sign “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” Well some days you have hit your limit and the sign should read, “No sleep, no patience, no sanity.” We get run down, overworked, sleep deprived, emotional, and it all starts to snowball until you just need a break.
It all boils down to self care for a mom (or lack of it). Yeah, yeah, we have heard this a million times. But what is self care really about? Is it a spa day every once in a while? Is it sitting on a meditation cushion everyday? Those are all nice but how realistic is that in our busy lives?
I define Momma self care as moments, hours, or days spent in solitude that recharge your energy, level your emotions, and heal and fulfill your soul.
There are a many things to keep in mind about self care, and it will take different forms for different people. For some, the benefits of self-care can happen instantly through some deep breaths, while for others they may happen over the course of hours (think long walk) or days — perhaps even at a retreat. We need room for both types in our lives to have energy for this marathon of motherhood.
A few key things to keep in mind about self-care:
1. There is nothing selfish about being in solitude.
Being alone without the demands of a crying baby or having to make another meal or the pressure of a work-team is necessary to regain your energy. Oh, and if being alone makes you uncomfortable, it’s time to get reacquainted with yourself. If every break from your kids includes hanging with girlfriends or being around people, it may be more taxing on your energy than you realize. Consider mixing it up with a long walk by yourself.
2. Recharging your energy is all about slowing down, relaxing, stopping the busy mind and taking a break.
We deal with a lot of emotions, we experience the gambit of emotions as a mother and finding space to process and letting go of that baggage is necessary. This can only be done when you are away from it all.
3. We all need our hearts and souls to heal.
Healing from birth trauma, postpartum depression, isolation of maternity leave, fears of failure as a mom, guilt from working too much — all can be healed through time spent processing and loving ourselves enough to take a self-care day.
I’m not saying that taking some time for self care is a good idea — I’m saying it so necessary that we should think of it as part of our hygiene.
Mom self care is like a beauty regimen for your soul.
Taking time to feel better should be as ingrained into our habits as brushing our teeth. But society, our mother’s generation, and frankly on a cellular level it’s so ingrained in us to perceive this as selfish and bad. So we just have to embrace and heal that part of our dark past and welcome a new way of looking at caring for ourselves.
I also believe that frequency and duration of a self-care regimen are equally important. I was encouraged by a Mindful Magazine study that showed the lengths of meditations that bring the optimal benefit in relation to their lifestyle and the working mothers benefited most from a quarterly one-day retreat (as opposed to daily meditation or weekly one-hour sessions, etc.). This confirmed my intuition that for busy working moms we need a plan to get the right amount of recharge time into our lives at the right time.
So I made the Momma Self-Care Planner. It is a great worksheet for you to brainstorm daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual ways to regain your energy. How about that THAT for hygiene!?
Momma-Care Planner steps:
- Print it out: Find some alone-time. Make it special by lighting a candle or play some lovely music.
- Write out ideas: In the “Ideas” section write out your favorite and NEW ways for self-care. Dream mama, don’t be afraid to write done something you have never done before.
- Figure out when: In the “When?” section think of times when self-care will fit into a appointed day of the week or month on the calendar
- Bonus section: Imagine something grand. Enjoy!
- Schedule: Get out your paper calendar or Shared calendar (I use a shared Google Calendar) and schedule it up. Allowing your partner to see will hold you accountable and let them know you are committed to taking care of yourself. The second page of the planner has some examples for some inspiration.
A version of this post appeared originally on ThriveMomma by Elaine McGhee. Elaine is a Working Mom Support Coach who helps new moms confidently return to work after maternity leave and find balance as a working mother. Learn more about working with Elaine here!