Why is it so hard to believe that you can take care of yourself as a mom? That you need self-care to function at your optimum? As moms, we have this idea that taking time out for ourselves is a privilege that we need to earn! I get it though, it is hard to feel like you deserve “mom time” when you have a million things on your list that still need to get done. Nonetheless, self-care is a need! It is not selfish; instead, it increases your capacity to love. If you have ever thought about practicing self-care but got held up because you didn’t know where to start. It is not a lie that taking care of yourself makes you a better mom; here’s how to get started.
Make a commitment
Just like how we commit to anything that we want to get done, we also need to commit to self-care. It all begins with a decision to care for yourself as a mom no matter what! Will things always go the way that you plan them? NO, they won’t but if you are serious about self-care; you need to commit to flexibility and to making self-care work for you. If you commit then repeat after me:
- I commit to:
- Learning to put me first as a mom
- Changing my mindset about what self-care is
- Making time for self-care
Divorce the guilt
“I am a gift to myself and to the universe. Nurturing self-care delivers that gift in its highest form”
Raise your hand if you have ever felt guilty for taking time out for self-care (or at least desiring to)! I have, more times than I can mention. I have also noticed that it is really common for moms to feel that way. For this reason, I have found it to be very important and equally helpful to answer these questions right at the beginning of your self-care journey:
- Why do I want to start taking care of myself?
- What will happen if I succeed in consistently taking care of myself?
- How will my life be if I fail to practice self-care consistently? What will happen?
Take the time to answer the above questions as it helps you know the benefits of taking care of yourself as a mom and what that will bring for you and your family. Moreover, you will be more equipped to fight the guilt when it tries to talk you out of taking care of yourself.
Set up the ground rules
Set some healthy boundaries around your self-care times, for yourself and your family. It is easier said than done I know. However, we have to put boundaries in place if we want to keep the promises that we make to ourselves, in this case, the promise to take care of ourselves. So it is important not to allow disturbances during your sacred time of self-care.
Look within yourself
Self-care is not a one size fit all practice. It looks different for every mom who indulges in it. Cutting and pasting someone else’s self-care routine(s) is a recipe for failure. Therefore, to successfully launch and sustain your self-care journey, you need to look within yourself. Here is what I did:
- I made a list of all activities that I enjoy – reading, writing, listening to music, etc Most of them were things that I enjoyed doing before I became a mother, so don’t forget those.
- When starting with self-care, I didn’t have time (or I just believed that I didn’t) either way, I wanted to start small. That is why I looked at different ways in which I could start doing the activities that I enjoy. For example, I started listening to audiobooks while cleaning the house to maximize time even though I had always labeled myself as the hard copy kind of girl. (Remember that flexibility that I spoke about? Yeah, it does come in handy)!
- I considered my immediate needs: Let’s be honest, no matter how much you enjoy reading; it won’t be of much help to you if you are sleep deprived! Therefore, to successfully practice self-care as a mom you need to be sensitive to the season of motherhood that you are in and be realistic about what you need the most.
Plan for self-care
I truly scratched my head the first time I heard this. “The idea of practicing self-care is already scaring me and now I have to add planning to it”, I thought to myself. Now I know that self-care is less likely to happen if it has not been planned for. Remember the good old saying by Benjamin Franklin – “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, it still holds even today! So you have to plan for self-care and this might include:
- Childcare: speaking to your partner or family member to take care of the kid(s) during the time that you have designated to practice self-care. Or just deciding to do it in the morning or night when the kid(s) are asleep.
- Getting an accountability partner – This trick works like a charm. In November 2019, my friends and I challenged one another to run 15 km weekly and to eat clean. We created a WhatsApp group where we posted our runs and all our meals and it worked. Every time I got lazy, the consistency of my friends would not leave me to be lazy in peace! (PS: we were only 3).
- Choose the activities that you will start with from the list that you made. I would suggest starting small and then adding more activities once you get the hang of practicing self-care as a mom. (Do not forget to consider holistic self-care when choosing your practices)
- Schedule – block out time in your calendar or planning system to practice self-care.
I will be honest, when I was a new mom, I didn’t know that it was not only ok but necessary to take care of yourself as a mom. Therefore, I did not and the emotional, physical, and psychological implications of that were visible. This is why self-care is so close to my heart. It can be used to enhance motherhood and parenting. I believe that taking care of yourself makes you a better mom and these are my thoughts on how to get started. Have you always viewed self-care as something to enhance your motherhood?