I don’t think anyone would argue that becoming a mom is one of the most fulfilling roles in life. It teaches you to be selfless and can show a love that someone could not even imagine. I remember when I first went on maternity leave after my first son, I said to my husband, “I will be a great stay at home mom” (a term I do not love). The house will always be clean, I will have great dinners made, and I will take on several of the responsibilities you were doing. All to show that it would be great for me to stay home and not go back to work. Needless to say, I FAILED! My husband had always been the cook and continued to do so while I was out on maternity and also did a lot of the cleaning. I mostly spent my time focused on the new baby. I had so many new roles that I did not think about when becoming a mom. I was worrying and researching feeding schedules, wanting to buy the best products, figuring out a sleeping schedule, worrying when he was off the schedule, having a love/hate relationship with a pacifier and so much more…all with little sleep. After doing all that, there really wasn’t time for cleaning or cooking. Looking back, I probably could have done things differently but I am okay with it. When my second child came around, things were a lot easier. I already knew how nurse, what the schedule should be (way more flexible if it didn’t go as planned) and I was use to not sleeping. But most importantly, I learned I needed my own time.
When I look back on my own journey of self-care and think about changes I want to make, these are the questions that I find to be most important to me (at least now anyways).
1. Do you take any time for yourself, even if it is 5 minutes to do something you enjoy that is not prompted by stress?
-Self-care does not need to be initiated by having a tough day. Think about things that you could do daily to give yourself some alone time. It can be anything. Maybe it is letting your partner get out of bed first and staying a few minutes longer, stretching, drinking a cup of coffee by yourself, spending a few minutes looking up a new project, write or read. It can really be anything that gives your some peace.
2. Do you take time to build your relationship with your partner that is not based around your kids?
-It is easy to only talk about the kids or talk about the kids first. One helpful reminder that I think about often is still date your partner once married and having kids. I don’t think it has to always be going out on a date, but maybe it is just putting the cell phones down and watching a movie together or playing a board game. Anything that helps a relationship continue to grow.
3. Do you take time to build other relationships based on a common interest?
-I struggle with mom guilt and if any part of my self care will suffer it will be this category. However, when I work on those other relationships, I find a lot of joy in them.
4. Do you eat at least some healthy foods and eat regularly?
-As a mom, making sure your child eats their vegetables (or at least trying) is something one can think about daily. Eating healthy and regularly can help with stress. Finding time to do that is important.
5. Have you tried something new or tried something again that you once liked?
-This category is new for me, however I have found some enjoyment in being creative and challenging myself. Happiness can come from accomplishing even a small goal. It is worth trying.
These are just some areas to think about for your own self-care. I am working on these categories for myself and I know I need reminders. I hope you find time to do something today that makes you happy.