"Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” - Maya Angelou
I am just recovering from the most intense flu I have ever had. Right before getting sick I told my husband, “I need 2 days to just sleep and do nothing!” Well, I didn’t get the rest my body knew it needed and the flu took over with a vengeance. As moms, we are so focused on caring for our kids that we forget to take care of ourselves - and if we do indulge, we feel guilty! That’s a dangerous trap to fall into. Neglecting yourself can quickly become a habit that affects your mental, emotional, and physical health - as well as your ability to be a good parent.
As we all know, caring for yourself and your kids is easier said than done. But consider this: Taking a break makes you a better mother.
To be your best self, you need to be in touch with your own interests along with getting some good old-fashioned R&R. Otherwise, you’ll only be going through the motions as you travel the road toward mommy burnout.
Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to mean large, expensive, time-consuming events. It can be pretty simple! Here are six self-care suggestions to get you started:
Do something for no other reason than that you enjoy it. Read a book (that isn’t about parenting). Go shopping. Watch your favorite show or a good movie (and don’t use it as a chance to catch up on laundry folding). Take a walk without bringing the stroller along. Dig out your sketchbook and pencils.
Stay in touch with the parts of yourself that aren’t a parent. If simple enjoyment isn’t enough of a reason to nudge you out the door sans baby, think about it this way: As your child grows, you’ll want her to have a fulfilled, self-actualized mother to look to as a role model.
Give yourself a beauty ego boost. It’s simple: When you look good, you feel good about yourself. Freshening up your image does amazing things for your attitude, energy, and outlook.
Something as simple as a manicure or a hair trim can go a long way toward making you feel like a million bucks. You may never be able to return to your half-hour-long beauty regimen each morning - at least until your child is older - but that doesn’t mean you can’t enlist the help of professionals every now and then.
Buy something for FUN. Not diapers. Not a cute onesie. Not groceries or more toilet paper. Pick out something for yourself that you know you will enjoy.
Maybe a magazine, a new nail polish in a fun shade, a pumpkin spice latte, a cute pair of pajamas, or a flirty lipstick. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be the perfect little pick-me-up and morale boost you need.
Go on a date with yourself. When your life revolves around kids, you are rarely, if ever, alone. And even when little ones are tucked away in bed, you’re left with the day’s residue: the constant barrage of thoughts from a racing mind, items on your to-do list that still need to be checked off, issues that need to be discussed with your spouse, etc.
That’s why it’s so important to take time for you and just be alone. Go to a movie. Eat lunch alone. Grab a coffee and spend an hour reading a book. Don’t think that you must have “plans” to do something fun - just enjoy the feeling of solitude and the infinite possibilities that come with it!
Go on a date with your partner. Investing in your romantic relationship is vital. While your identity as a mom takes precedence most of the time, you’re also a woman who needs to feel loved, wanted, and sexy. So go on a date with your partner. Dress up. Hold hands. Flirt across the table. Keeping the spark alive is good for your marriage, for your general well-being, and for your children!
Get together with a girlfriend. No, a playdate doesn’t count. Instead, make dinner plans or go to lunch with a good friend so you can spend an hour talking (and actually getting to eat before your food gets cold!).
Make a point to invest in friendships and to treat yourself to “girl time.” Connecting with other women really is soul-healing - and it’s also nice to hear a friend assure you that no, you aren’t going crazy!”
So, how do you carve out the time to do these things? There are many options. Ask your partner, family, friends. Hire a babysitter. Or offer to watch a friend’s child for a few hours if she’ll do the same for you.
No matter which route you take, don’t be ashamed to admit that you want a break. Believe me, the popular conception of the “self-sufficient” modern mom is a myth. It really does take a village to raise a child…so enlist yours to help take some of the pressure off. You deserve it!