Does it feel as if each day you spend in a revolving door of diapers, feeding, bedtimes, and nap times? You aren’t alone.
I vividly remember the sinking lonely feeling I had after I had my first child. Here I was, with this beautiful baby, and no one to talk to about life.
I wanted to be MORE than a mom again. I wanted to enjoy life outside of this sweet girl and remember who I was before bedtime was 7 PM.
We know that motherhood will be hard; everyone makes sure to tell us that during pregnancy. No one says how isolating and lonely motherhood can be and how easy it is to lose yourself in the process of becoming a mother.
I headed to the doctor one March morning and talked about my feelings. My doctor diagnosed me with postpartum depression, which affects up to 15% of mothers.
He told me I needed to take care of myself and find time to do things I enjoyed. I laughed; he couldn’t be serious, right?
But, he WAS serious, so I found myself on a journey of self-care. Now, with a total of four kids underfoot, I know the importance of self-care during motherhood.
Why is Self-Care During Motherhood Important?
Motherhood is constantly giving yourself to one or more other human beings. You give your time, love, devotion, and patience to these little children every single day, but those things have to come from somewhere.
They come from you internally, but you can only give as much as you have. I always think of it like pouring from my beloved coffee cup.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. How can you give unless you have it to give?
It’s a cycle that mothers fall into easily.
Self-care is more than just going for coffee with friends – even though you SHOULD plan that regularly! It’s taking the time to jog or go to yoga classes.
Self-care is upkeeping your hair and plucking your eyebrows that you once loved to maintain, or doing anything that you enjoy.
Self-care is taking care of yourself because you matter as well, mama.
Why Don’t Moms Take Time for Themselves?
Lack of self-care is a theme that all mothers understand. The question is why don’t moms make time for themselves?
In a quest for answers, I polled my friends and noticed a very similar theme.
“I always feel like I can spend time or money on my child.” – Kara
“Exhaustion at the end of the day due to putting the kids, work, and school before myself.” – Sara
“I’m always thinking of all the tasks I can be completing.” – Autumn
“Loss of self to accommodate care for others.” – Kelly
“Guilt is definitely #1, and lack of time is a close second.” – Alicia
The common trend is – guilt and lack of time. In fact, it’s compounded at times that we feel guilty for taking the little time that we have available for ourselves.
We feel guilty because we need time for ourselves! Moms think they have to spend every single waking second giving themselves to their family without ever considering themselves.
How to Take Time for Yourself
I know very well how hard it is to make time for yourself. With four kids, homeschooling, and a husband who works 24-hour shifts, my days are a whirlwind, but I’ve learned I won’t survive without self-care.
Let me tell you a secret – even the busiest moms can make time for self-care.
I’m serious! If it’s a priority to you, then you WILL make time. I made it a priority, and here is how I did that.
Realize that It’s Not Selfish to Take Time for Yourself
Did you know that women have a higher rate of depression? Women are two times more likely to experience depression, and they experience higher rates of seasonal or chronic depression.
You need to take care of yourself. Cultural pressures say that mothers should be able to do it all with a smile on our faces, but they’re wrong.
We are human. We can’t do it all, and we need time to breathe as well. Women all over the world are cracking under the tasks and pressures we carry each and every day. It’s okay not to be okay, and it’s normal to need time for yourself.
You can’t give to other people unless you give to yourself first.
For your first outing, you don’t have to plan a whole day away. I know I didn’t. In fact, when I first decided I needed to make myself a priority, I started by finding five minutes a day to stretch and breathe.
I sat on my floor each morning and breathed deeply, and I spent some time reading about different stretches and breathing methods to relax.
Friend a Group of Local Mom Friends
I searched Facebook for local mom groups, met moms at church, and worked hard to find a group I could enjoy.
Then, I found that these moms planned park dates, which involved the kids but that's okay! They also went out to dinner together, walk in the park, and have holiday parties.
Plug It in the Calendar
If it’s not on my calendar, it’s NOT happening. I live and breathe by that thing. So, I started plugging in meetups that these local moms had.
I started with two a month. Then, I found a yoga class that I could fit into Tuesday nights because nothing else happens on Tuesday nights.
Putting it on my calendar made it a priority, which is crucial. You have to make and want self-care to be a priority. If you don’t want it, it won’t happen.
Put the Kids to Bed Early or Stay Up a Bit Later
I know you’re tired; we all are! At times, I stay up a bit later than I typically do and take a long bath. I plug in some music I like, use a bath bomb, and read a few pages of a book.
It’s nothing crazy, but it feels so lovely. It feels good to focus on myself and do something that I enjoy.
Paint your nails, find a show that you want to watch alone, read a chapter in a book, or eat a bowl of popcorn without sharing. Do something that makes you feel good.
If you’re a morning person, wake up a bit earlier than your kids to take a shower and enjoy a hot cup of coffee. I know moms who wake up at 5 AM to work out.
While I can’t do that, I’m thoroughly impressed with their dedication to their physical and mental health.
See, I don’t think that they’re lazy or selfish, and no one else does either!
Use Naps Wisely
My little kids nap and my big kids have quiet time. I don’t use nap times for cleaning. Instead, I use rests to crochet or read a book.
Sometimes, I turn a show on that I like and grab myself a cup of tea. It’s become a time in the middle of that day that I love and enjoy.
My big kids are welcome to join me, but they are to be quiet – the little ones are sleeping. They can get themselves snacks and drinks while mom relaxes, and my kids never once have questioned it!
Let Go of Unnecessary Tasks
Sometimes, the kitchen can stay a mess, or the bedrooms can go one more day without being cleaned. I’m giving you the pass – it’s okay.
YOU matter more than cleaning ever will matter. If you feel like you’re going to erupt like a volcano, take a breath. Put in a movie and veg out with your kids.
I’m also giving you a pass to say NO to things you don’t want to do that suck more time away from yourself.
You don’t HAVE to join the PTA or run the new Bible study at the church. Instead, you are allowed – I promise – to take those times for yourself.
Let Go of that Mom Guilt
I see you, mom. I know you’re tired because you worked all day, whether that’s changing diapers or working at your job.
After dinner and clean up, you’re exhausted, and you just can’t imagine doing anything else. On the weekends, your spouse needs time too, or you fill it with family time.
Every mother can identify with you, but taking care of yourself is more than trivial or selfish. In fact, it’s not selfish at all.
It’s giving to yourself so that you can give to your kids and spouse. Self-care is investing in yourself so you can invest in other people.
It works, and it matters. Make it a priority, and it will happen in your life. Trust me.