For some reason, self-care for moms has been seriously downgraded. Not only do we not “allow” moms to prioritize their self-care routine, but society has made moms to believe that eating a hot meal or taking a shower alone is self-care. These 2 things are self-maintenance, not self-care.
What is self-care for moms?
Self-care for moms is above what it takes to get you through your day-to-day. It’s beyond meals, sleep, showering etc. It’s finding the time to prioritize yourself so you don’t lose who you are.
- Monthly dinner with friends
- A weekend away by yourself
- Picking up an old hobby you used to love
- Going to a work-out class weekly
- Waking up early before your kids
- Regular massages
- A weekend away with friends
- Journaling without interruption
- Reading new books
- Talking a walk/run alone on a regular basis
As a mom, you’ve got a battery. Running errands, school drop off, making 3 meals a day, doing laundry, breaking up fights…these things will wear down your battery until eventually it completely depletes, and you’re left feeling like a failure, wondering why you can’t do it all.
We need to periodically recharge that battery as we’re living our lives.
Is Self-Care Selfish?
Merriam-Webster defines selfish as “1: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others. 2: arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others.”
So, by definition, the answer is yes, however we have to stop saying being selfish is always a bad thing.
You know how when you begin a flight, they give you the safety run down. They tell you that in the event of an emergency, you must secure your own oxygen mask before securing anyone else’s around you. This is putting yourself first.
I believe in parenting, this is necessary from time to time. I also believe that sometimes it’s okay to do this even if you aren’t putting others’ needs and feelings before it. Do I think we need to be putting ourselves first all the time? Absolutely not. But sometimes, it’s necessary.
Putting self-care above someone else’s needs
As an example, I’m due for a night out with a friend – this is a form of self-care for me. Is it ideal that I leave my partner at home to do bedtime by himself? (We divide and conquer. All 4 alone is tough for both of us.) No, it isn’t ideal. I’m not putting his needs ahead of mine (“without regard for others”) so I’m selfish. But this night out with a friend is imperative for me to recharge my mom battery. This is putting self-care above someone else’s needs.
Putting self-management above someone else’s needs
Another example – my 9 year old is yelling because the 3 year old is destroying his lego creation, my other 3 year old is crying because he’s just simply overtired and needs me to pick him up and my 6 year old is crying because I told her she couldn’t paint her nails right this minute. I’m putting myself first by sneaking away into my bathroom with the freaking door locked for 5 minutes to gain my composure before needing to be their emotional support animal. I’m putting my needs before theirs but if I don’t, no one will benefit. This is putting self-management over other people’s needs.
So I think the issue here with the definition is that they’re implying that being selfish is bad. Sometimes it is necessary for us to put someone else’s needs behind ours – yes, even our children. As long as it’s reasonable and not repetitive.
Why is Self-Care for moms important?
That story before is a perfect example! Practicing self-care and prioritizing yourself helps you recharge your mom battery. Going to dinner with my friend gives me an opportunity to focus on myself and not have to worry about someone else.
Self-care “extends your fuse.” It helps you become more patient with your family.
Prioritizing yourself gives you something to look forward to if you feel your day-to-day is the same thing day in and day out. This is especially important for new moms of babies.
It shows your children that it’s important and okay to focus on yourself so we can stop the cycle of self-care being selfish.
How do I begin practicing self-care?
Make time and schedule it.
It’s one thing to say when you’re going to do something but to actually put it into the universe by scheduling it is another. Have monthly dinners with a friend. Schedule massages every month. Find a mom meet up group to talk regularly. Make the time for it or it won’t happen.
Communicate your self-care needs with your partner.
Find out if there is a certain time of month your spouse can make leave work a little early or go in a little late so you can find the time for yourself. Tell your spouse what you are imagining (realistically, of course) as far as self-care time. Once a month? Small things once a week? What works for your schedules.
Find out what you need to do to set your partner up for success when do carry out the self-care routines. What time of month/week/day works best for them? What do you need to write down for them to help them be successful?
You can also communicate your intentions with friends to help hold you accountable.
Make sure you’re meeting your basic needs so you’ll have time and energy to practice self-care.
It’s really important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself on your day-to-day so you don’t end up feeling burned out. If you’ve reached burn out, you’re still trying to get your head above water and you won’t schedule that self-care.
Hand off some tasks to your partner or other support so you have more time to practice self-care.
It really IS that easy. It may take some flexibility and may require you to lower some expectations and embrace imperfection, but I promise, it’s possible. If you’re not willing to do those things, then it may never happen for you.
I sincerely hope you found this article to be helpful. My passion truly lies in helping moms define self-care and actually make the time to practice it.
If you want to dive deeper into the need to recharge your battery and how to do it, then you need my workbook.
I’ve created the Drained, Overworked Mom’s Guide to Keeping Life Mostly Under Control.
The Drained, Overworked Mom’s Guide to Keeping Life Mostly Under Control is a workbook that helps walk you through how to shorten your to-do list and make time for YOURSELF to recharge your battery.
For more details, you can find them here.