All mothers know what it’s like to be in the trenches. To be more sleep deprived than you could have ever imagined. To be torn between wanting some alone time yet not wanting to leave your children’s side…caring so intensely about their health, nutrition, how much they sleep, whether they’re comfy, too warm…too stimulated..too bored. Too anything!
You are on it. All. the. damn. time.
And most moms reach a point where they forget (or simply can’t find time) to care for themselves. Self-care for moms? Pardon me? Where does that fit in?
Now at some point during your journey as “mom” this is almost inevitable.
You just cannot prioritize sleep when your child needs you in the night. You can’t nap when the baby naps (#mostannoyingadviceever) when you have other children to care for, or another job outside the home. It’s almost impossible to motivate yourself to exercise when you are exhausted, in pain, and just want a break. You’d rather watch Netflix than expend any more energy on your social life. Self-care is just not the priority.
And I know that you know how to take care of yourself, but it’s really frickin’ hard to actually do it! (If you need some practical and simple tips to get started on the self-care train, check out this post with ideas perfect for moms).
Reading Between the Lines: Moms and Self-Care
I imagine somewhere on your journey, someone passed on this super helpful piece of advice (cough…not really that helpful). The good ol’ “oxygen mask metaphor”: Put On Your Own Mask Before Helping Others.
You know the one, right? While the literal message is important, the metaphor seems to suggest how important it is to take care of yourself so that you are able to care for your kids.
Now, before you wonder if I missed something – I DO appreciate that you literally must have oxygen if you want to be able to help others during an airplane catastrophe. Don’t worry, I get that.
And there’s no denying that your kids benefit tremendously from you taking great care of yourself:
- They enjoy a happy, healthy, energized mother
- They learn that it’s important to care for themselves by your good example
- They realize that you value and respect yourself (which helps them respect themselves)
What I don’t get is how this has somehow become the narrative for WHY moms should take care of themselves, suggesting that mother’s health and wellness is important for others’ benefit, rather than simply for their OWN. We get this message a lot, don’t we?
It’s for the kids…
It’s so that you can care for everyone else…
It’s so that you set a good example for your children…
What the heck? Something really obvious is missing here people.
Society and Self-Care
Let’s talk systems for a second. If you zoom way out, it becomes apparent that our current social landscape encourages mothers to over-extend themselves and put their family first. And sure, prioritizing family is a beautiful way of moving through life, provided that other important aspects of self and identity are also tended to.
You could compare this idea with how our society also seems to value being busy, stressed, and overworked. While this way of being is completely terrible for your health and relationships, our society somehow encourages and celebrates it. Working hard at your job is great, provided that you maintain some life balance too. See the similarity to motherhood?
These pressures on moms in particular (yes dads, you feel it too but this post isn’t about you) are so pervasive that mothers feel guilty and selfish for any focus they give to themselves.
As if there is a little voice scolding “How dare you allocate any of your energy toward yourself!”
And unfortunately, many mamas have internalized these thoughts, meaning they direct them toward themselves, and either judge themselves for being selfish or simply don’t even consider prioritizing themselves. They give ALL their energy to motherhood and as a result feel a little lost… incomplete… uninspired… exhausted… depressed…
And just FYI, I talk about these mothers as if they are over THERE…but one of them is right HERE, my friends!
I, too, am waking up to these challenges and growing my awareness with time. And my biggest learning so far is that no one is going to force you to prioritize yourself. No one actually cares more than you do (yikes, scary right?).
Which means it must start with YOU. You set the tone.
Mama, you must be the one to show your family and the world your worth. It start with you.
Self-Care Is Actually About the Self (go figure)
When we think about moms and self-care, you can probably see now how we omit the part about self? But let’s expand the narrative, shall we?
I’d like mothers to give themselves permission to care for themselves NOT to be a better mother, but because they are worthy of the same love they give to everyone else every. single. day.
Can I say that again?
Give yourself permission to care for yourself because you are worthy of your own love.
Let self-care actually be about YOU!
Step Into Your Worth, Mama
So ask yourself, are you worthy of your own time? Your own energy? Your own love? (hint: the answer is yes!)
And if you can allow yourself to say “YES, I am worthy!”, then can you be brave enough to proclaim to the world that you are actually going to begin prioritizing yourself (taking noticeable action)?
Not because your kids need it.
Not because your partner likes it when you take care of yourself.
Not because your are supposed to.
But because you want to. Because you enjoy it. Because it makes you feel good, helps your stay sane, balanced, multifaceted and complex. It helps you see yourself as a unique and interesting human whose identity spans far beyond motherhood.
And if your kids benefit, double-win! (but it’s not the point).
Here’s something for you to get started:
30 Free Downloadable Affirmations For Moms and Self-Care, Love + Acceptance!
I use affirmations daily! You could pin them somewhere, tuck them in your purse, tape them to the mirror, or choose one card to focus on each day. Maybe even leave them somewhere for other mothers to discover! Click anywhere on the image below to get the files in your inbox!
All my best,