I’ve quickly realized that being a mother means you are a caretaker. That is probably common sense to most people, but I truly didn’t understand the depth of the job when I applied:
You quite literally take care of a little human(s) 24/7.
I also know that caretakers, by profession, experience one of the highest levels of burnout. It makes sense. When you are constantly meeting the needs of others day in and day out, it becomes easy to neglect your own. In a way, it can be easier to ignore yourself because acknowledging and tending to your needs can be just one more thing to do.
And yet, we are inundated with people telling us Moms that we need to take care of ourselves, and while we know that caring for ourselves is important, actually doing it is another story. There is another message that gets thrown at us too – that “self-care” simply means getting a manicure or a latte. It’s true, a latte and a manicure can be extremely therapeutic and just what we need some days, but perhaps Moms have deeper needs too. Plus, those things cost money.
And so, I’ve compiled a list of some ideas for “self-care” that I’ve found to be uniquely helpful. Perhaps they’ll get us thinking more intentionally about what actually fills us up instead of just settling for a late-morning latte because someone told us that’s all that self-care means. (Note: I love getting a fancy drink and often partake in such beverages for my own self-care. No judgment here, but here are some more ideas too )
- Let your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No” be “No”, and let that be okay. Let’s stop trying to make everyone happy. It is okay to say, “You know what, that sounds amazing, but I need a night off,” or “Wow, thank you for the invite, but I already committed to something else that day,” instead of trying to pack ten things into one day to make sure everyone is pleased with you. Let’s learn to say “no” and not feel like a terrible person/friend/mother/wife because of it. Boundaries are important to our self-care. We need to respect ourselves and our time and our energy. I’m working on this one as it does not come naturally for me
- Experience nature. Find a nice trail or beach or forest and soak in the beauty of nature. It’s in those moments when we remember that our world, our relationships, and our problems are quite small in comparison to the vast universe. Not that our lives are insignificant or unimportant, but it’s refreshing and encouraging to remember that there is more to life than our little world. I think it’s healthy for us to be reminded of our smallness sometimes.
- Go on a date with your partner. Put it in the calendar, find a babysitter, and just do it. The logistics can be so much effort, I know, but when our relationships are full and we are doing this “life” thing together, it gets a whole lot easier.
- Speaking of relationships, let’s not forget about our friends. Having young kids makes it difficult to socialize sometimes with all the different nap schedules and bedtimes and activities. And then when you do get together with friends who have kids, you spend most of the time chasing the kids around that you don’t get to really catch up. Let’s go on dates with our friends, sans children.
- Set aside time each week that is just for you. Maybe one hour on Fridays when your child is sleeping or when you can get someone to babysit. Do yoga. Write a letter. Journal. Go get your nails done. Get a massage. Pet your dog and drink tea. Read a good book. Scroll Pinterest for an hour. Watch that guilty pleasure show (Vanderpump Rules, anyone?) We should be allowed to have at least one hour per week that is just for us. We can do that, right?
These are just a few ideas of ways I know personally get me going and feeling energized. What about you? What do you do to avoid burnout? Oh, I almost forgot the most important one! Watch videos of babies and puppies on the daily!