A Radical Self-Care Philosophy for Moms
I have never quite grasped the desperate need to practice self-care before becoming a stay at home mom. One thing that I have always told myself, and that I am sure you have said or heard as well, is that we will be better able to take care of our families if we are taking proper care of ourselves (it was so ingrained in me that I have probably even included it in previous posts!). I don’t know about you, but my biggest hindrance when it comes to self-care is mom guilt–more specifically that it is literally my job to put my family’s needs before my own. What drives me to practice self-care winds up being one of two things: Either I start to notice I am a little on edge and feel that I can take better care of everyone else if I’m taking proper care of myself (i.e. being more patient with my son during a tanturm), or I am just at the end of my rope physically, mentally, or emotionally and I finally do something I should have done for myself weeks ago. You can’t pour from an empty cup, right? Well, when did taking care of ourselves start to solely revolve around other people? While I absolutely believe that we should pour into others, and need to take care of ourselves in order to do so, I do not believe that it is the only reason we deserve to be full. Here is my proposal of a radical self-care philosophy: Stop feeling too guilty to practice self-care unless you convince yourself it will benefit others. Let the fact that it will positively impact those around you be a bonus rather than some form of permission. In order to do that, there are a few things you need to believe about yourself!
You Deserve Love
The first step in this radical self-care philosophy is to refuse to give love to everyone but yourself. As a mom, it is so easy to spread ourselves too thin trying to make sure that everyone else is well taken care of, but who is taking care of us? There is only so much a partner can do–mostly in terms of support. Just as we can’t read minds and possibly know what everyone in our house needs, there is nobody better to cater to our own needs than we are. It is up to you to make a note of what you need and make sure that it is getting taken care of. At the end of the day, as much as it may affect your family, you are the one stuck facing any health problems or struggles because of self-neglect. Choose to give yourself as much love as you give those around you. Don’t wake up weeks, months, or years from now and realize that just a few small, regular actions could have made a world of difference in your life.
I’m going to be honest here. After having a child, it is so much easier to become overwhelmed, overtired, and overweight. I have experienced all of these things! And the more that my mental/physical/emotional health is not as much of a priority as everyone else’s, the easier it is to get trapped in a spiral that is harder and harder to get out of. Make the decision today to take care of you, too. You deserve to be and feel loved. What better way to show love than to prioritize your needs and make sure that you are feeling good and healthy? Find ways to work a little bit of self-care into your life each day.
Your Dreams Are Important
This is another big one! I know that for me, I have had to put some of my goals on hold since becoming a mom. There are things that I don’t get to do as often as I’d like, as well as some things that had to get put on the back burner completely for now. But there were also things that I could have been doing again after a while that I wasn’t, simply because I felt like what everyone else wanted or needed was more important that what I wanted or needed.
There are always ways to compromise! I have found that with a little help and support from my family and those around me, I have been able to do some of those things. One of my goals and callings has been to lead a bible study. I didn’t know what that looked like for a long time, and was very upset when I had to stop attending a bi-weekly bible study I loved because of Jim’s work schedule. However, now I attend a weekly women’s study on Saturday mornings and Jim takes our son to see his Pop. This is one way I practice the radical self-care philosophy every single week, and I can say for sure that it makes a huge difference in my life because I feel so much more balanced as a result.
Adopting my radical self-care philosophy for yourself means recognizing and honoring the fact that you have goals and a calling. You were created with a purpose. You are so much more than a mother, wife, and homemaker. Everyone needs an outlet. Find what inspires you to be a better person and do more of it. Finish school, jump into a new career, change your lifestyle, pursue something that has been tugging at your heart for a while–do whatever it takes to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. Let others help and support you just as you would for them. Again, you are the one who will have to live with the decisions you made and the what ifs. Go after those things that will bring you a sense of accomplishment. You deserve the opportunity to make your dreams come true. Believe that, and don’t get stuck standing before God trying to explain why you didn’t follow your calling!
You Deserve Rest
Mama, I know you are tired–exhausted, really–and maybe even overwhelmed. Being responsible for every facet of our child(ren)’s development, the house, meals, appointments, plans, and everything else concerning our families… There is never enough time in the day to get it all done. But there is also danger in taking on too much. One person can only do so much, and it is important to remember that you are allowed to delegate the housework among the people living in the house, or ask for help from other people in your life. There is no shame in taking on a mother’s helper or cleaning lady if you can afford it and it takes some of the pressure off of you.
Don’t run yourself into the ground trying to meet the unrealistic expectations society places on us. Make that time to care for your own needs and make time for rest. Replenish your energy and your drive. Remember who you are, why you do what you do, and why you deserve to take the breaks you need and to live a life that brings you abundant joy. You are so worth it!
Are You Ready to Adopt this Radical Self-Care Philosophy?
The key to this radical self-care philosophy, as stated above, is choosing to honor yourself and make sure your needs are met regardless of how it benefits those around you. It is so easy to fall into the pattern of thinking that causes us to make that doctor appointment, go out with the girls, or have that date night because those around us need us to be at the top of our game. But you can do those things without permission from anyone else! Do those things because they are what you need and what makes you happy. The reason this is so truly a radical self-care philosophy is because it goes against the grain of what we are repeatedly told or made to think. You deserve love, happiness, peace, and rest just for being you–not because you take care of others!