Self-Care: How Taking Time for Yourself Can Make You a Better Mom
When I started out as a single mom I remember one thing that people kept telling me: don’t forget to take care of yourself. Everyone, and I do mean everyone would tell me this constantly, and I would get so angry and frustrated because in my mind I had more important things to do then brush my teeth, or comb my hair, or change that shirt that had spit up on it. In fact, why even change that shirt? It’s just gunna get more spit up on it right?
I was so wrapped up in being a good mom and focusing on making sure that that new little bundle of joy was taken care of that I didn’t realize how burnt out I was becoming. But I just thought, well, he’s a newborn, I’m a new mom, I’m a single mom, I am supposed to do this on my own. This was what it was supposed to be like right? Looooooong exhausting hours, no sleep, waking up every hour for feeding, changing diapers, only to collapse in bed after an hour of staring at the baby to make sure he’s “really asleep” and to wake up as soon as your eyes flutter closed to start all over again.
But that’s motherhood right?
I’ve had many of my mom’s friends ask me how I did it, and still do it, all by myself as a single mom. And usually I just laugh and say, you just do, because what other choice do I have?
But honestly, it’s because I learned that even as a single mom I can’t do it on my own. I needed help. And I had help, whether I asked for it or not. Even in the hospital right after Grayson was born I had to learn really quick that I would have to accept help because of how sick I was after the delivery. My mom then, and even now, was an absolute godsend.
But even I know, asking for help as a mom, or even as a person, can be difficult. If you’re like me, your mind thinks, I wanted this baby, I had this baby, so now I have to suck it up, let go of life, and just take care of the baby. It’s this weird guilt thing we put on ourselves. That if we let someone else take over, then are we being lazy and relying to much on others? The answer is NO!
It’s ok to let go, to have a breath and to take care of you; and you don’t have to wait until the baby is older. Because I’m here to tell you, it gets harder the older they get. I can’t even go to the bathroom without my two year old son asking where mommy went. You’re a mom, you’ll always be needed, but you have to remember, an empty vessel can’t fill another until it itself has been filled. If you are this vessel of love, and care, and devotion to your children and your family, you have to make sure to show yourself some love and care and devotion.
So, now I guess you’re asking, how can I do that? Whelp! I’ve got you covered. I have a list of just five simple things that you can do to start filling yourself back up. Things that even I, as a single mom, have managed to do and know work.
I know you probably laughed when you saw that. Sleep! Well duh, right? Wrong. Sleep, though obvious, is something all moms can agree we don’t get enough of. In fact, my son just this morning was wide awake and ready to go at 5am. Sleep is something of a luxury for us parents. Which is why it’s on this list. Take a nap. For me, I’ll nap when Grayson does. He easily goes down for an hour or two, so I’ll put him to sleep and lay down myself. Sometimes I’ll sleep the whole time he does, or sometimes just a quick 30 min or hour. But sleep is important! It’s one of my favorite things to do when Grayson’s father takes him for the weekend.
Get dressed up and go somewhere, or absolutely nowhere
Again, I know you laughed when you read it. I know, because I laughed when someone told me this for the first time.
“What a waste of time!” I said. “I could be doing so many other things. And the baby or toddler or ______ is going to spill something on it anyways.”
Listen! It’s not about that. Clothes can be washed. It’s about making yourself feel good. It’s been scientifically proven that simply smiling can improve the mood of the person. Why can’t this do the same thing? I’m not saying dig out your wedding dress, or bridesmaids dress, or prom dress and put it on. I’m just saying, put on some jeans instead of yoga pants, and real bra, and that shirt in the back of your closet you’ve been wishing you had some place to wear it to. Put some makeup on. Brush your hair AND teeth. And go somewhere. Or absolutely nowhere. The point is look at yourself in the mirror and remind yourself you are still in there. Still beautiful, still a woman, not just a milk maker. And if you are asking, when do I have time to do this, you’re missing the point. You have to make the time. While the baby is sleeping, or in his rocking chair. I used to bring grayson into my room in his rocker and put makeup on while he watched me. He still to this day loves to watch me put on my makeup. Remind yourself that you’re beautiful, and when you take everything off and put back on that nursing bra and sweatpants remember how that felt. Because that person is still you, even without.
Treat yo self!!
Indulge your sweet tooth, go to lunch with friends, or just go to lunch with yourself. Get out of the house! And this is something you can do even if you’re like me who has their kid with them almost all the time. One of my favorite days spent with my son started out as a terrible one. I was having a bad day, he was having a bad day, so I decided to treat ourselves! We went and got cupcakes in la Jolla and went to a beach side park and layed in the sun and played catch and just relaxed and ate cupcakes. Then we went home. It was so simple, so easy and both of our moods improved. And it’s one of my favorite memories with my son. If you can get someone who will watch your child while you go to lunch that’s even better. The point is, indulge, treat yourself. You deserve it!
This is the absolutely necessary one for me. When Grayson isn’t with me I will take a walk on the beach, through the park or just sit in silence for a while and enjoy it. Enjoy the uninterrupted time and just reset for the week. I know some moms who wake up early in the morning just to enjoy a cup of coffee in silence before the chaos of life starts. It’s important to have a moment where you can clear your mind and reflect on the blessings that life has provided. Make sure to treasure those moments, it’ll get you through the craziness of life with kids lol.
Organize one thing in your life
We all have that list. That to-do list that’s 157936365743638463 things long that never EVER seems to get done. This could be a drawer in the kitchen, the closet full of shoes, the laundry room, or just talking to someone you’ve been meaning to call or text. Choose one thing, and just do it. However big or small. If you have the time or energy do something big! If you know you only have 15 minutes, do something small, like organizing the tupperware drawer. Whatever it is, just do it. Because that feeling you get when it’s done, whoa! I used to do this in our old place when Grayson would be gone for the weekend. I would make a list of three things I would like to get done and try to aim at completing at least one of those things completely. It would feel amazing because amidst all the chaos and things going on that were completely out of my control, there was one thing I conquered and that, for now, was good enough.
Now I know that these five things might be things you don't like or want to do or think you can do, it’s just what I do. The point is that sometimes you need to take some time for you. Paint your nails, straighten your hair, watch that netflix movie you’ve had queued for the past five months. Make sure that you are taking care of yourself because I firmly believe that this feeling we get that we can’t ask for help or take time for ourselves is passed on from generations before us telling us that we have to do it all and that self care is something you give up coming into motherhood. And while sure, we may need to re-prioritize things now as parents, that doesn’t include neglecting our sanity or self. It’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to take care of yourself. We may be parents, but we are also humans. So treat yourself right, because if you don’t, who will?