One of my earliest memories is cheering for my mom as she’s running the New York City Marathon. I am about four years old and I’m standing on one of the big rocks in Central Park, yelling "GO MOMMY!" because she was finally doing what she had trained for so long to do. I recently found a picture of us posing at the finish line and I asked her why she got into running in the first place (because how could this be one of my first memories and I don’t know everything there is to know about it)? She told me a colleague recommended she try it to help her deal with the stress she was experiencing in her marriage to my father, and at her demanding job as an executive producer at an ad agency. But then she said it was actually way more than that. “Running helped me be the mom I wanted to be,” she said. “I felt I deserved time to myself, and I shouldn't have to apologize for putting myself first. Once I realized how great running made me feel, I kept it up because it fulfilled me, which helped me be the best mother I could. And it worked, right? I’m the best mom?” And she is.
Romper partnered with Baby Dove to convey that when a mother takes care of herself, she's also taking care of her family. Keep reading to learn what six mothers have to say about the subject, and why no mother should ever be made to feel bad for caring about herself.
"Originally, I felt that it was selfish to go to my design studio for the day and to leave my son with a nanny. But after experiencing postpartum depression, I learned the hard way that putting my mental and physical needs first is the only way I could be the strong and positive mother I wanted and needed to be for my son. There is nothing selfish about taking care of yourself so you can take care of others."
"Re-discovering your autonomy after having a child is sometimes difficult at first, but it is ESSENTIAL to not only survive motherhood, but to survive in marriage and as an individual. Go have a drink with your spouse, get your hair cut, go kayaking solo, anything! Any time you get to reset your mental health by engaging in self care, both you and your family will benefit."
"Sometimes you just need something that belongs to only you, and after I had my son, that something was the normalcy of going back to work. I was excited to get back to a job I was already familiar with and felt comfortable doing. But as my baby got older I started realizing how introverted I really am, and caring for my son — who I love more than anything — takes more out of me than I expected. I learned that if I didn't take time to clear my head and reconnect with myself, then I wasn't fully present when I would spend time with my son. It's not selfish for me to put myself and my needs first — it's vital. It's more important to me to miss a few minutes with my son than for him to have a struggling mom."
"I've found that if I don't feel like me, I don't feel like a mom. So I have to do little things every day just for me, whether it's a hot bath and a good book, or finding time for a massage (yay!), or going for a run, that make me feel like me. The freedom of my yesteryears is gone but I wouldn't have it any other way because being a mom is my favorite me."
"The first year of my daughter's life, I felt guilty for taking any time for myself. Whenever I would ask someone to take care of her so I could go do something on my own, I felt the need to rush home to relieve them. A few life lessons later... I realized that it's not selfish to take some 'me' time. After I do something I want to do, I feel refreshed and excited to come home to my kid. Everyone is happier when they aren't burnt out."
"I heard a really important quote once, from another mom: children should not be the most important people in the house. A lot of times you can get lost in their needs, but at the end of the day if you don't take care of you ... your kids will grow up and have their own lives, but what's left of you? You need to make sure you're just as important as they are."