Unsurprisingly, there are days being a mother of two takes a toll. Just yesterday I felt so bogged down by daily life, it took everything in me to get out of bed. It's not that I'm necessarily depressed (though, pre-disposed), but sometime (particularly the days I've failed to put myself first) it's all too much. Over the years, I've learned how incredibly important it is to practice self-care habits in order to be an amazing mom. Without those necessary habits, I flounder through the day until I can close my eyes and start again. It's an awful cycle and the ones who get the brunt of it, more than my partner, are my children.
When I was a young gal (before kids, of course) I took self-care for granted. Honestly, I had more time and energy to put into it so it wasn't something I had to really plan for. If I wanted to exercise, I did for as long as I wanted. If I felt like taking a long, hot bubble bath without the constant threat of being interrupted, I just did and (enjoyed every minute of it, for the record). I love my kids but, most days, I'm giving so much of me to them there's really little left to salvage any kind of "me" time to re-center.
There are some things I've learned on this journey called motherhood, like self-care short-cuts, that have helped me take care of myself even when I'm needed in multiple other places simultaneously. I think, in actively practicing these habits, they've helped me be the mom my kids deserve and the woman I do, too.
You Make Sleep A Priority
I love sleep, always have, and now that I've suffered the curse of insomnia for some time now (thanks, anxiety), I long for it like I've never longed for anything in my entire life. I'm very vocal about our sleep habits here at home because regardless of my deep want for sleep, I also think my kids benefit from being on a solid sleep schedule.
No matter what we have going on, I'm sure to get to bed at a reasonable time so that I can wake, ready to face the day (coffee first, though) because sleep deprivation can steal so much of (what I think) makes me a good mother.
You Aim To Exercise And Eat Well
I'm not perfect (nowhere near) but since the birth of my youngest five years back, I've put more time and effort in taking care of my health. I've taken up running and make healthy food choices as often as I can. Of course, we're a busy family and enjoy eating out and baking all the sweet treats, but the older I get, the more indulging moderately becomes necessity.
I'll never be a fitness buff or nutritionist or anything, but when I take care of my body, at least a little, I feel better from the inside out and that shows with my kids. Besides, I want to be around for them as long as possible so in putting my health first by taking a run, I'm not being selfish. I'm being responsible.
You Say "No"
Boundaries are important. I've only just learned this lesson in recent years, mostly because I hated the thought of letting anyone down even when it took its toll on my mental and physical health. Saying "no" is important if it means the alternative would impede on my time, schedule, or overall ability to stick to my commitments.
I'm not superwoman, believe it or not, and there are days I can't fit another responsibility into my schedule without breaking. The only alternative is to say no sometimes. I'm sorry when I have to, but feel better about myself overall. Without boundaries, I'd have nothing left of me, for me.
You Stay Connected To Others
Being a mother doesn't mean you have to cut off contact from friends and family (though it may feel like that's how it ends up being sometimes). And honestly, without contact from the outside world — even friends without children — there's little rooting you to the person you were before kids.
Being an amazing mom comes from doing some of the simplest things to care for yourself. Having a life outside of your children, however challenging at times, is important. Don't feel guilty for wanting to tap into all the other amazing parts of who you are because your children will only learn and grow from it.
You Seek Joy In The Small Things
Everyday, I enjoy my morning cup of coffee no matter what. No matter what the day brings after, I take those few moments to quiet my brain. It may seem like a small thing, but it's an important thing. Self-care doesn't have to mean long days at the spa or kicking your feet up on the couch all day. I like to watch the sunset and to walk around our local cemetery where it feels so peaceful.
Even when my kids are home all day, I take those moments after they go to bed to run a hot bath, find gratitude in the simple things. They're there. Great moms recognize and revel in them because they might be all we get some days.
You Do Something You Enjoy
I love running and try to get out of the house to do it five days a week. It doesn't have to be a huge time commitment, but I enjoy it and it resets my brain for the day. The days I don't run, I'm a mess! It's evident in everything I do and say (sorry, kids).
I also love writing and no matter what I have going on in my life, I'm sure to carve out enough time to write something. Hell, anything. While I do work from home writing, my hours are plentiful yet have to revolve around our home schedule (for now). The days I don't have actual work, I still write because it brings me joy and when I'm joyous, my kids reap the benefit and also see it's OK to put themselves first when they're grown with responsibilities like mine.
You Give Yourself A Break
Even with saying "no" and creating boundaries, I still falter. I'm human. While I strive to take care of myself there are days I don't. At all. Just as yesterday when I struggled to get out of bed, there are times life becomes overwhelming. That is my reminder to put a little extra effort into self-care before it grows into something far worse.
Today, I woke with a new perspective. I've decided to give myself a break from yesterday's gloominess because, hey, it happens. We can't be everything all the time without some kind of down day. The trick is to put those habits into motion before it happens again.