The Secret to Self-Care for Mothers: Breaking the Stigma
Becoming a mother is one of the most beautiful things in life. You’re responsible for a new life and nurturing them to give them the best chance to succeed. Being a mother is a full-time job, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a working mom. Keeping everything together day after day for your kids is a very demanding task. Being there at all times can make those precious moments with your kids feel like a chore.
Self-care is not selfish, even for mothers. It’s okay for moms to take a couple hours or a day for themselves to do the things they enjoy. Self-care is for everyone and today we are going to give you all the facts about the importance of self-care for mothers.
What is the meaning of Self-Care?
The most common stigma behind self-care is that it is self-indulgent and selfish. That’s not the case at all. Self-care is for everyone as it is about taking care of yourself to be healthy. Self-care is taking steps towards tending to the needs of your physical and mental health. This requires checking in on yourself and seeing what your body is asking for.
The stress of life can be overwhelming. Sometimes it is best to take a step back and take the time to prioritize yourself. Taking that day for yourself will help you to better cope with daily stressors in your personal life. This helps you to be able to do your job better, take care of others and do everything you want to accomplish in a day.
Self-care can be broken up into three categories:
- Emotional Self-Care
- Physical Self-Care
- Spiritual Self-Care
From those three categories, activities can then be split into two further categories:
- Temporary: You’ll benefit from the activity, but it won’t last long. For example, going on a coffee date with a friend. You’ll benefit from the social connection, but it won’t last long when you part ways.
- Enduring: The activity will have more permanent effects on you. For example, doing a gratitude journal everyday.
Why is Self-Care Important for Moms?
Many times you hear new moms say they’ve never known they could love someone so much when they have a child. They might think that they have to put their kid before themselves. Being a mother doesn’t always have to mean sacrifice. Yes, in motherhood there are moments where you’re going to have to put your needs on the backburner.
That doesn’t mean that it has to be all the time.
You don’t want to be resentful of your kids down the line for your constant state of burnout. It’s okay for moms to put themselves first to be grounded and stable for their kids as it reduces the risk of developing mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, or insomnia.
How Moms find time for Self-care
It’s important for your mental health to take regular days off, meaning once or twice a month. That could involve your partner taking the day off from the office to watch the kids, asking a family member to watch them, or hiring a sitter. Whatever you need to do to get the day off, do it.
Studies show that having that day on the calendar brings just as much psychological reward as the actual vacation. Knowing that relief is just around the corner will help you to get through playing dolls for the hundredth time and cutting up apple slices for snack time.
6 Rules of Thumb to Re-energize Yourself
When finding things to do to re-energize yourself on your self-care day, here are six rules to follow.
Rule #1: Say No
- Obviously, there are things that you have to do that you may not want to do. For those extra activities, you need to understand how to set your own limits. Say yes to things that will refuel you and say no to things that don’t do anything or give you more stress. For example, it’s okay to say no to an extra volunteer task at school and yes to going on a shopping day with a friend you enjoy spending time with.
Rule #2: Counseling
- Your child views you as a superhero, but you need to remember that you are human too. If you’re suffering with postpartum depression or anxiety, it is important for you to get the proper care that you need for your mental health. Even if you’re not suffering with anything, it is still beneficial for you to go to therapy to talk out anything that has been on your mind. Going to therapy and talking about your feelings is one of the strongest things you can do as a mother.
Rule #3: Take up a New Hobby
- We’re sure there is something that you have always wanted to try, like piano lessons or crocheting. No matter what it is, go and try it out on your self-care day. You’ll set a great example for your kids when encouraging them to try something new.
Rule #4: Alone Time in the House
- If you’re really yearning for some solitude, ask for your partner or family member to take the kids out for the day. You can use your alone time to do things that make you feel refreshed from the comfort of your own home. For example, soaking in a warm bath laying on a bath bed without screaming kids on the other side of the door.
Rule #5: Take Time with Your Partner
- Sometimes you both need a break from the parenting routine. Try to find time to do a two day getaway from time to time. If that’s not possible all the time, at least try to meet each other for lunch in the middle of the workday. You will be able to focus on each other and finally having a sit down meal without having to cut up someone else’s food.
Rule #6: Set Long-Term Goals
- Having long-term goals will force you to make time for you to practice each week. These appointments with yourself will help to replenish you. This could be running in the local 5K or practicing for a voice concert you want to perform in.
When thinking about what you should do on your self-care day, think about activities that would be restorative. Self-care for moms means doing things that you want to do.
This isn’t the time for you to find a new dry cleaner or painter to paint the outside of the house. This is your day to reset and there is no need to feel guilty about it. Here is a list of suggestions you can do on your self-care day based off of the different categories of self-care that were mentioned previously.
- Going out to lunch with friends
- Taking a warm bath with a bath bed and bubbles
- Taking up an instrument
- Saying “no” to unnecessary stress
- Adding new (or new to you) clothes to your wardrobe
- Listen to your music
- Doing a craft
- Taking a cooking class
- Going out for a night
- Weekly coffee dates with friends
- Joining a workout class
- Prioritize your sleep
- Getting a personal trainer
- Nourishing yourself with healthy foods
- Spending time in nature
- Keeping a gratitude journal
- Practicing mindfulness
How to Deal with Mom Guilt
When starting to take self-care days, you might feel some mom guilt. That feeling might hang over you when you think about how you’re not doing enough as a parent, or not doing the right things, or you’re going to “mess up” your kids for their future. These feelings might have come from scrolling through social media where your friend’s kids are dressed in matching outfits on a stroll in the park and you can barely get your kid to wear pants outside the house.
Social media is just a highlight reel of life. Maybe after that perfect filtered picture, the kids had a meltdown. All you can do is the best that you can. It’s okay if you feel like you need to take a couple of hours to soak in a warm bath leaning against a bath bed away from your kids. You deserve that time off because it will help you to stay grounded and appreciate the time with your kids even more. Here is a list of reminders to help you deal with your mom guilt before your self-care day.
Identify the Sources of Guilt
- If you suffer from mom guilt, you need to identify the areas of parenthood that cause these feelings. Try writing down when you're hit with guilt. Over time, a pattern will emerge and you can help yourself avoid triggers.
Know Your Truth
- In your parenting, write down what things you and your partner care the most about instilling into your kids. Knowing what you value and sticking to it will help minimize mom guilt from what other people are doing.
- It’s really great for you to have friends that are moms as well so you can relate to each other. Try to find mom friends that will support you in your parenting style instead of judging you for differing.
Listen to Your Children and Your Intuition
- At the end of the day, you are the one that knows your kids the best. When making decisions you shouldn’t worry about what the last instagram post was saying to do. Use your own intuition and listen to your children and you will find the best solution for your family.
Just because you take a day for yourself, doesn’t mean that you are a bad mom. If anything that makes you a better mom. Explaining to your kids about the importance of taking days for yourself will help them to better understand their own mental health. You’re a great mom and you’re doing all the right things for your kids. This day is for you to not have to listen to Baby Shark on a loop and listen to actual music you enjoy in the car. So, get your self-care day on the calendar now. You’re going to thank us later!
Contributing Writer: Madeline Collins