When you become a mother, gears are shifted, and everything becomes about your child.
It’s pretty much inevitable that your days will become focused on feeding, bathing, nurturing, supervising, and managing your child’s health and well-being.
It’s a natural shift, and you’re doing the right thing. But often times, moms are left feeling like a tiny flower trying not to wilt within a bigger garden—neglecting to take care of themselves.
I would love to write you a prescription for a three-day yoga retreat in the mountains or even a weekly mani/pedi with your best gal pal. Let’s be real, though; the things that the world views today as “self care” are often impractical and almost always expensive. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that you can do to improve your own well-being. Chances are that your children love you and want you to be around a long, long time.
5 Practical Self Care Actions for Every Mom
- Schedule a Well Visit for Yourself. In the first year of your baby’s life, you will take him/her to a pediatrician’s office an average of 7 times for well visits. We do this because we love our children and want to make sure their health is right on target. Why wouldn’t we practice the same care for ourselves? Once a year, women aged 21 and up should have a physical with their general practitioner, receive an annual exam from an OBGYN, and visit a dermatologist for a full body scan for preventative maintenance.
- Stay Connected with Those You Care About. Society tells us that motherhood is the time to “be a bad friend” because we have to focus on our children 24/7. Whereas it’s absolutely true that your friendships post-children are going to look different than they did beforehand, that doesn’t mean they have to die. Give yourself a few minutes a day to connect with the people you care about. Send a text and a two-line email to just say hey, or send a picture of your mess of a child that says, “Look at my circus.” Relationships are important for our well-being as mothers, and this goes well beyond those we have with our husbands and children.
- Take 20 Minutes. I’m always so surprised to find out how many moms take absolutely zero time out for themselves. “There is no time,” they say. I used to think that way, too. When my oldest child was still a baby, I took a self-discovery course that challenged me to spend 2 hours by myself doing something that I enjoyed. As a new mom, that challenge was nearly impossible for me. I ended up going to Barnes & Noble, getting a cupcake from the cafe, browsing the bookshelves for a few minutes, and breaking down into tears. I had completely forgotten how to be alone and how to think about myself. Now I tell others that there is absolutely no reason why a mom can’t take 20 minutes to herself each day. I’m not talking about getting a babysitter or having your husband watch the baby while you grocery shop alone (although those are both awesome things). I’m talking about taking 20 minutes out to do something that makes you feel good: exercise, read a book, do a crossword puzzle or a devotional. Maybe for you, this means waiting until the end of the day when your child is asleep. Maybe the dishes will have to wait awhile longer or your child will have to watch two episodes of Daniel Tiger instead of one. I’m here to tell you that that’s OK.
- Join a Group. Specifically, join a group of mothers like yourself. Everyone needs a tribe and others to commiserate with, am I right? Luckily, Richmond Moms Blog is an excellent place to start. Hearing stories from other moms is crucial to survival. Reach out to your friends for MOPS groups, Bible studies, playgroups and more.
- Freeze Frame the Day and Celebrate Both the Successes and Shortcomings. I mean this both figuratively and literally. Time goes by so, so fast. I know it doesn’t always seem like it, but one day you’ll be praying for a sleeping baby and the next, they will be off to a sleepover at a friend’s house. Through every stage, remind yourself that this too shall pass. Celebrate it all. Take pictures. Freeze those moments of baby giggles, and wonder at the simple things like bubbles and flowers. But also freeze those moments of smearing peanut butter all over the cat or the bandages on a very scraped up knee after a big fall. This is all a part of your motherhood experience. And someday, those moments will remind you that you did a darn good job.