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I was chatting on the phone with my best friend recently when she remarked,
“My brother tells me I need to take better care of myself. That’s easy for him to say. He doesn’t have any kids. Where would I find the time or the money to do that?”
My response was to send her an email every day for the next couple of weeks that had an assignment of something that she could do for herself in less than ten minutes for free.
See, I believe we moms are doing ourselves a major disservice. We have kids, and we stop feeling like we’re important. At all.
The list of Things We Have to Do is so overwhelming that adding ourselves to it seems like too much. We start to believe the lie that everything else is more important than we are.
Then we pin articles about “How to be a Fun Mom” or “How to Stop Yelling at Our Kids” instead of celebrating the fact that we haven’t caved in and sold the kids on eBay yet. How could anyone be a fun mom when none of her own needs are being met? Who wouldn’t yell at a child who wanted one more thing when you had nothing else to give?
Our Traditional Idea of Self Care Is Too Limited
Ok, so we decide to do something nice for ourselves. (Maybe it’s our birthday or something.) We really splash out and book a massage. We drop a ton of money and feel great for a few minutes until we walk back in the door of our home and see the mess and the bickering. We feel like the time and money spent on the massage was a waste, and so we don’t think about pampering ourselves again until Mother’s Day.
Maybe our definition of self care is too limited, though.
I was reading an article recently that said there were seven facets of self care. It goes way beyond bubble baths and trips to the spa, my friends. These types of self care can all be practiced for free. And I believe very strongly that we all need to find the space in our busy lives to regularly practice all of them–even if it’s just for a few minutes.
So what are the seven areas of self-care and where the heck would you find time to attend to them? I’m glad you asked.
THE SEVEN TYPES OF SELF CARE FOR MOMS
This is the self care we’re practicing when we get our massages, head to the gym, or try that new green smoothie recipe.
Often, we’ll think, “I don’t have the money to get a facial,” or “who has the time to work out for 30 minutes a day?” What about taking the time to drink an extra glass of water, though? What about using that facial scrub or nail polish that has been sitting under your sink since you picked it up on a whim at Target? Both of these count as physical self care.
Emotional Self Care
I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to think a lot about my emotions—that is, until they bubble up and I scream at my children or hide in the bathroom crying.
We are practicing emotional self-care when we give some thought and attention to how we’re feeling—when we take a minute to determine if we’re actually ok. We don’t need to take the time or money to go see a therapist (although that would be awesome).
Instead, we could take a few minutes to write in a journal or to speak some positive affirmations into the mirror. These activities don’t cost us anything and can go a long way towards alleviating some of our emotional stress.
As humans, our brains love to learn. As a mom, though, it can seem sometimes like all we’re learning are the names of the pups in the Paw Patrol. I and many of my friends described a kind of brain rot that we felt, especially during the newborn phase.
This brain rot wasn’t due just to the sleep deprivation, but also to the sudden focus on just one thing. We were concerned with the baby—when she ate, slept, and went to the bathroom. Whether his development was normal and what his cries meant.
This type of specialization is helpful for making sure your baby is cared for, but many of us never widen the focus to include other things as our children grow. The brain rot persists.
What are you interested in learning more about? Is there a language you’d like to learn? Would you like to know more about the history of the place in which you live? Is there a non-fiction book you heard about that you’ve been interested in?
We live in a time when countless resources are available for free (or close to free) on the Internet. You can learn about anything you want to know. So what do you want to learn?
Spiritual Self Care
I’m not a religious woman, and until recently, I wouldn’t have even called myself spiritual. I don’t go to weekly church services or pray about things. I start to feel uncomfortable when people urge me to “talk to the Universe”.
I have always enjoyed time by myself in nature, though. I didn’t realize it, but that sense of awe that I felt when hiking through the woods alone or watching the waves wash up on the beach was me getting in touch with my spiritual side for a few minutes.
Do you have a spiritual practice? If you associate with a religious faith, how can you practice it for a few minutes every day? If you don’t consider yourself to be religious, why not try yoga, meditation, or even reading some inspirational quotes from great spiritual leaders?
When was the last time you talked to your best friend? Went out with the girls? Took a trip without the husband and kids? Humans are social animals, and we crave that connection with other people.
Sure, you get a lot out of the time that you spend with your family (and we’ll talk more about that in a second) but it’s important to cultivate relationships where you just get to be you—not somebody’s mommy or wife.
As a side note, if you don’t have mom friends, you need some. (Read more about why here.) You need mom friends that will nod in solidarity when you say that you pee a little when you laugh too hard now, or that you’ve forgotten to brush your teeth for a couple of days, or that sometimes that you regret choosing to be a mom. Despite the face we all put on for the world–especially on social media–we’re all a mess sometimes, and we can be there to lift up and support each other.
Relational Self Care
Are you actively nurturing the relationships with those closest to you, or are you going through the motions?
As a work-at-home, homeschooling mom, I’m around my kids almost all the time. I make their lunches, remind them to pick up their toys, and help them put their laundry away. What I don’t always do, is truly connect with them.
My husband gets neglected even more. Although I always give him a perfunctory kiss goodnight, weeks have gone by where I didn’t touch him otherwise. Months have gone by where we didn’t talk about anything other than what happened that day with the kids. Are you guilty of this, too?
And what about those other relations–parents, siblings, aunts and uncles? Do we make the time to chat periodically? Go to Sunday dinner? Spend the holidays together?
If these relationships with extended family are unhappy ones, certainly we don’t need to torture ourselves by reaching out. If we’re neglecting them just because we’re busy, though, then a quick text, FaceTime chat, or family photo via email is in order.
If we actually got all of the previous six areas humming, we’d likely feel pretty good. We still might have a nagging sense, though, that something isn’t right. We might feel a little bit uncomfortable in our environment or uneasy about what the future holds.
This is the last area of self care–caring for the practical stuff (our environment, safety, and future security). Are you spending time regularly making sure that your financial house is in order? Have you made your home feel like a haven for yourself? Do you know what to do in case of emergency? Are you planning consciously for your future?
As you can see, self care for moms goes way beyond expensive trips to the spa. It is something that is available to all of us–even those in the trenches of motherhood who have little time or money to spare.
Where to Find the Time to Attend to Your Self Care
Ok, so maybe you have read all the way down here, and you agree with me that you need to take care of yourself. Where the heck are you going to find the time, though?
As a mom, it can be a challenge to get a huge block of uninterrupted time to attend to yourself. Heck, I can’t even poop in peace most days. What is available to most of us, though, are ten minutes here and there where we can check back in with ourselves.
We need to have a plan for these little blocks of time when we do get them. (This way we won’t follow our automatic defaults that usually include habits like watching TV or scrolling Instagram on our phones).
We also have to shift our priorities to remember that we deserve to take these little ten-minute blocks for ourselves. We need to have a spot on the to-do list. (And that our spot should be near the top–ahead of stuff like dishes and laundry).
Do you agree with me that you deserve a spot on the list? Try my Seven Day No Time, No Money Self Care Challenge. I’ll send you ideas every day for ways to show yourself a little love. All the ideas can be completed in less than ten minutes, and all of them can be done with stuff you already have in the house. Join us!