It’s become a buzz phrase adorning newsstands, magazine racks, and article headlines, adding more pressure to our already slam packed schedules. Women must practice “self-care”, conjuring up images of spa treatments, shopping sprees, and $800 jars of moon dust ala Gynethe Paltrow over at Goop. That’s at least what I thought when I first saw the term being thrown around years ago as a new mom. I never understood how anyone found a single second for themselves with a newborn and the sleep deprivation. So I did what many women do, I neglected myself.
As a mom, life and its responsibilities can feel relentless. There’s taking care of the children’s emotional and physical needs. Cleaning the house, doing the laundry, cooking all the food, making sure homework is done, transporting kids to and from activities, and that doesn’t even include a traditional job if you have one. We all have become chef’s, chauffeurs, cheerleaders, teachers, nurses, home organizers, and wear a zillion other hats throughout each and every day and night.
Not to mention the physical toll it takes on our bodies.
When I finally became a mom I threw myself into motherhood full throttle. My new job was to do everything necessary to make our IVF miracle baby’s life wonderful. I did the night feedings, took her to baby classes, and every waking moment was devoted to her. Around six months old though I landed in a psychologist’s office with a diagnosis of postpartum anxiety disorder. I wasn’t sleeping at all and I honestly didn’t think I could live another day. I was utterly exhausted.
“What do you do for fun Kristen? What are you doing for YOU?”, the counselor asked me. I sat stunned.
“You mean I’m supposed to do things for me?”, I replied, completely confused.
And then it dawned on me. The fog lifted and I realized I wasn’t doing anything for me. I wasn’t eating healthy, I wasn’t working out like I used to, and I wasn’t doing one single thing every day that I enjoyed.
I’ve faltered since then after having baby number two, and I’ve lost myself in motherhood a time or two again. But a couple of years ago I found my way back to me. I started practicing self-care, even when the internet hated me for it. I started putting myself first, so I could better serve those around me. And I made sure my cup was never ever empty again.
What does self-care really mean?
Self-care is a fluid term, that can mean so many things to different people. I’m lucky to have a partner, who might travel a lot, but gives me space one day a week when he is in town. I also have the means to hire a babysitter once a week when he travels to give me a break, so my definition might be very different than a single, full-time working mom.
But this is what self-care means to me:
- Self-care means doing one thing every single day for you. Reading, taking a bath, meditating, whatever it is you love. Actually putting it on the schedule and doing it.
- It means learning how to say no to others so you can say yes to yourself.
- It means letting the laundry and other household work pile up so you can binge-watch Hallmark movies. Chores can wait, but your mental and physical health cannot.
- It means taking 10 minutes to drink a cup of hot coffee in silence.
- It means unfollowing the people on social media that make you feel less than.
- It also means ditching the drama and losing the toxic people in your life.
- It means putting your happiness first, even when and if it disappoints others.
- It means spending time with yourself, tuning out the outer world, and listening to your intuition.
- And it means teaching your kids that you matter just as much as they do.
Self-care is not indulgent, or selfish, and it doesn’t require a huge bank account. It just means remembering US.
We cannot fully step into our power, and live our purpose if we are not making the space for it in our lives. We all had passions, dreams, and hobbies before we had our little miracles, why must we drop them simply because we added mom to our job title? The term self-care isn’t meant to put pressure on women, it’s meant to inspire us to create time for ourselves. I know it’s not easy, especially when you are in the throes of a newborn, have a toddler running around, and you never get a second alone. And especially if you work full-time.
But all of us could put our phones down for 30 minutes and schedule time in if we really wanted it. Or wake 10 minutes earlier to meditate. Or take that bath after the kids go to bed. Or ask a friend to watch the kids for an hour so we can go to Target….ALONE! It’s hard to make the shift, but if we don’t have family near us or the budget for a sitter, then we need to bring back the village and find a support system that can help us when we need to take a break.
As it’s been famously said, “It’s not about having the time, it’s about making time.”
Are you ready to make some time for you? If so, check out these 99 Ways to Practice Self-Care.
You may also like The First Step to Self-Love is Self-Care.
Please also read It’s OK to Say No to Your Kids and Yes to Yourself.
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