I think it’s important to shift the conversation so that what’s supposed to support your mental wellbeing doesn’t become a stressor. I want self care to be easy so that moms actually do it.
If you’re a mom or mom-to-be, I’m willing to bet that “self care” can be… a bit of a touchy subject.
Here’s my take: self-care is important, yes, but our approach has to be more down-to-earth so that self care becomes realistic (not just another source of stress).
As a mental health therapist, I think it’s important to shift the conversation so that what’s supposed to support your mental wellbeing doesn’t become a stressor. I want self care to be easy so that moms actually do it.
Let’s break this down…
What stops moms from practicing self care?
Your schedule is fully booked!
In my experience, I see that timing is the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of moms weaving proper self care into their lives.
Moms can’t find the time when it feels like a huge extra task on the to-do list. Self care can feel like another thing to stuff into an already full-to-the-brim day.
For moms struggling to find their groove in early motherhood, taking care of yourself feels like another thing you have to do. When you neglect it, it feels like another thing you’re NOT doing—and that can bring you down.
So many of us see the day slip by without taking a moment for ourselves.
Mom guilt has a tendency to rain on your parade and it certainly makes no exceptions for self care.
I’m going to say it loud and clear: taking care of your needs is not selfish. Taking time for yourself is not luxurious. Self care is not frivolous.
When you take care of yourself, you’re better able to become the mom you want to be. When you look after your needs, your partner benefits, your kids benefit. Everyone wins!
If this is something you’re struggling with because self care feels over-the-top, understand that you’ve been programmed to think that way. It’s not your fault that this is hard for you but I’m here to flip the script.
You matter so much. Your well-being affects others. You deserve your own attention, love and energy.
So, how should we define realistic self care?
Making self care easy for moms is about simplifying what the concept means to begin with. I want to help you believe that self-care is realistic otherwise it’s never going to happen.
So what is self care, really?
This is your ability to meet your needs in all the different aspects of your life. We’re talking emotional, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual needs.
If we want to feel joy and ease, we must address our own needs so that we have the capacity to welcome those positive experiences. When we think of self care this way, we can understand that this isn’t something you only do when your kids are asleep or with the sitter.
So how can we start our realistic approach to taking proper care of ourselves? I’ve broken it down to three main parts.
When thinking about self care for your body, think about all of your physical needs. You need proper nutrition, hydration, rest, comfort. You need some kind of exercise or movement (ideally every day, if you can).
When considering how to care for your body, ask yourself if there’s things you do for your kids that you neglect to do for yourself? I notice that moms often go to great lengths to prepare healthy meals for their kids, for example, but their own meals are a bit of an afterthought. And honestly, I’ve been there too, snacking on the kids leftovers. But why do we do this? What if you could also consider your own nutritional needs, for example? What impact would that have on you?
You might even ask yourself in this moment: what are some easy ways that I could take better care of my physical self? Jot a few ideas down, and remember, keep it super simple!
Taking care of your mind means making sure that your emotional and intellectual needs are met.
On the intellectual side, notice that you’re allowed to keep investing in your interests. You as a human being have the need to learn and grow! Being a mom shouldn’t put a stop to that. So what interests have you put aside? Anything you’ve been curious about? Any new hobbies you’d like to explore?
On the emotional side, it can be really helpful to check in with yourself daily by simply asking: “How am I doing? Where am I at?”
Notice what comes up when you ask that question. Listening to yourself is self care. Remember that.
And if you discover some emotions that are harder to sit with on your own, it might be a good time to reach out to a friend or a professional to support you.
Have you ever felt stressed out and then gone on a cleaning rampage and felt so much better afterwards?
Or maybe you redecorated your living room mantle, hung a couple pictures or bought a new house plant and suddenly your mood improved? Well, that’s no coincidence! Your surroundings influence your mood.
Think about the area in your home where you spend most of your time. Is there anything about that space that you need to change that would be a helpful gesture for yourself?
Think about what’s important to you, specifically (because we’re all different here!). Some people need a spotlessly clean room. Others need plants and natural elements in their personal space. Whether your thing is essential oils or candles isn’t what’s important. And it’s NOT about redecorating your whole house either.
What you’re aiming to do here is notice how your space affects you and then doing something small to bring comfort.
So, what ideas do you have? Is there something ease, free, and fun that you could do to revive your immediate surroundings?
I hope I’ve made self care less complicated and more realistic for you! Really, the goal is to simplify this concept so that meeting your own personal needs becomes less stressful and less of a burden on your already-busy life.
So what’s one thing that you’re going to do for self-care today? I’d love to know in comments below!