Being a mom is hard. Being a dad is hard. Being a kid is hard, too, though it’s not quite as hard as being an adult.
For those moms who feel the pressure of “doing it all,” it can be extra hard. Even moms who are at home with their kids still need to do it all, it’s just a different “all.” That pressure for awesomeness comes at a price. Moms burn out, and when they do, it’s a problem.
The good thing is you don’t have to burn out. You can avoid that by taking care of yourself. Carving out the time to do so can seem impossible at first, but once you get into the habit of doing it, it becomes invaluable. If you don’t know where to start, check out these ideas.
Join a Gym
Gyms are amazing. The chance to work out and let off some of the anxious energy that accumulates after having things demanded of you is exhilarating. Some gym memberships come with a daycare area for your child to hang out in while you exercise, so you don’t have to worry about arrangements. This can be even more beneficial for kids who aren’t in school yet, since it gives them a chance to get out and socialize.
The exercise itself is your benefit. You get some alone time to listen to adult music and only get yourself a drink — no one else. If you go regularly, you’ll start to feel better and be healthier, plus the endorphins make you feel rejuvenated, so you can go back to “mom-ing” with renewed patience and understanding.
Give Yourself Some Grace
Part of self-care is forgiveness. Being a mom is hard. You’ll mess up sometimes. You’ll take your toddler to their doctor’s appointment without pants. You might forget your 10-year-old in their DIY toilet paper fort at Target. You’ll show up at work with stickers in your hair. It’s not that big a deal.
All things considered, if you get to the end of the day with all kids accounted for and no serious injuries, it’s been an acceptable day. It won’t always be a “winning” day, but acceptable is … acceptable.
Have a Date Night
If your significant other is important to you, then it should be on your radar, or both of your radars, to make time for each other. Set up a regular date night and make a pact to keep it. When things get in the way, which they will, have a plan to make it up. Even if the two of you have an evening of just sitting on the couch and talking while you listen for the baby, that kind of intimacy is vital.
Keeping the connection tight and communication open is the best way to create a happy, stable home life. And that is something you and your kids will benefit from.
Make Time for Friends
Friends are important. Your relationships will change once you become a mom, which makes it even more important to maintain friendships. Other moms will understand parts of your life that non-mom friends won’t, while old friends can help you remember who you are regardless of their mom status. A mom playdate with the kids helps pass the time and gives you a chance to practice adult conversation.
Ask for Help
You can’t do it all by yourself. There’s a reason raising kids takes a village, and it’s that one person isn’t enough. Most of the time, two people aren’t enough, either. You need a solid set up of at least 25 people to properly raise a child.
Okay, that might be an exaggeration. But there is definitely no harm in letting someone else take some of the burden, if it’s your partner, your parents, or the neighbor down the street who keeps offering to take your toddler so the baby can rest. Make sure she’s not crazy first, but as long as she just likes kids, then let her love on yours.
Put Your Needs First
Everyone needs something all the time. Kids’ needs are much more invasive than adults though, because they can’t meet them for themselves all the time. Kids need favors, food, love and to experiment. That last one comes into direct opposition with adults’ need for control.
It’ll be hard to give that up, but taking time for yourself makes it easier. You can do whatever you need to — exercise, meditate, take a bath or learn a new skill. Just make sure you’re taken care of first. It’s the only way to be the best mom and partner you can be.
The less healthy you are, the worse you will feel. Eating to fill up quickly is a necessity sometimes, no matter how organized you are. But it’s not something you should do all the time. You can still have your daily Yoo-hoo or Cheetos, of course, but making an effort to eat mostly healthy can only benefit you.
Find what works best for you, whether it’s fruit in the morning and eggs for lunch, or the reverse. Keep an eye on fat, sugar and salt, and if you manage to keep portion sizes accurate, you’ll keep yourself fit and healthy.
Eating well doesn’t have to interfere with treating yourself on occasion. You aren’t a dog, after all, so you don’t need to reward yourself with food. It is, however, perfectly acceptable to reward yourself with other things. Makeup and clothes are always popular treats, but they lose their appeal soon after purchase. Experiences, however, stick with you long after they have ended.
There are so many things you can experience. Buy yourself:
- A massage
- A personal training session
- A sewing class
- A skydiving lesson
They’re all amazing options that will stick with you indefinitely, and you’ll learn more about yourself from them.
Taking time for yourself doesn’t have to conform to these parameters. You might be happy to take half an hour to go read at the park, and that’s all you need. Or you might need an hour or two daily to yourself. Whatever it is that you need, it’s okay to take it. Your goal is to take care of our family, but you’re part of that family. Take care of yourself, too.