What is self-care and why is it important?
I recently went out to dinner with friends and was asked: “what is self-care?” I think my friend actually said something like “I hate that term – self-care.” Although I use the term frequently, I get where she’s coming from.
Ironically, we were all practicing self-care by treating ourselves to a rare kid-free girls night out. However, self-care is not all about indulging in nights out, spa appointments, or coffee dates.
Self-care is precisely what it says – it is taking care of yourself! It is prioritizing your needs because when you take care of yourself, you can better take care of others. It’s taking time for your favorite hobby, spending 5 minutes a day meditating, reading a book, exercising or taking a walk around the block. It’s also drinking plenty of water, eating healthy and indulging in that glass of wine or piece of cake once in a while (ok, maybe more than once in a while). Prioritizing your needs will make you a healthier, more patient, energetic, and happier person to be around. And you, my friend, are worth it!
Sadly, we live in a society where there is pressure to “keep up with the Joneses” and taking time for ourselves is often looked down upon. We find ourselves competing to be the best mom, best co-worker, best friend or partner. We see posts on social media of our friends who appear to have the perfect family, perfect marriage, perfect job, or perfect house, all the while thinking we are failing miserably. In reality, those people on social media are likely feeling the same way you are.
I spent ten years working for someone who measured my performance by the number of hours I worked, rather than the quality of my work. If you were the last one in the office, you were a model employee. If you left on time or early (gasp!), you were frowned upon for putting your family first. I still cringe to think that I spent ten years working in that environment. While many companies in the U.S. have come a long way, we still have a very long way to go in making the workplace more conducive to young mothers. I could write a whole other post about that!
Additionally, moms often feel guilty taking time for themselves because they feel indebted to their children. We feel guilty for leaving our kids so we can go out without them or for putting them in front of the T.V. for 30 minutes so we can exercise or read a book. We feel guilty for working too much, or guilty we’re spoiling them by doing too much for them. We feel guilty all the freaking time! Sound familiar?
Here’s what we are too often missing…
When your kids see you taking care of yourself, you are modeling the healthy lifestyle that you want them to have. When they see you exercise and eat right, they will be more likely to do the same. When mom is stressed the kids can see and feel it. Additionally, kids need to understand that mom is an individual and has needs too. Understanding that will make them more well-rounded and independent as they grow older.
That being said we often also feel pressure to find time for self-care even though some days we can barely find time to pee alone. And no, peeing by yourself is not a form of self-care! Sometimes the kids have to come before self-care, and sometimes self-care needs to come before the kids. It’s about finding the perfectly unperfect balance.
How do you find time for self-care?
You make the time! Just like you make the time to take care of your family, you have to make the time to take care of yourself. Period. I find the best way to find time for self-care is by having a productive morning routine. Yes, it sucks waking up early but the more you do it, the easier it gets. You’ll be surprised to find that you enjoy getting up early because you enjoy that time for yourself.
If you need to find other pockets during the day, insist that your partner takes the kids out for a few hours, trade child-care with a friend once a week, or hire a babysitter or a mother’s helper so you can take time to yourself. And remember – this isn’t an indulgence, it’s a form of mental health. A healthy and happy mom will raise healthy and happy kids.
There will be days when our morning routine gets interrupted, or our kids won’t sit down in front of the T.V. for 30 minutes. But, there will also be days when they sleep an extra 30 minutes for you, get invited to a friends house, or go to bed early. Motherhood is full of interruptions, good days, and bad days. Embrace the challenge and find the time. You are worth it. Your family is worth it.
Check out How a Change in My Routine, Changed My Life to learn more about my morning routine.