Being a mom is truly an incredible, life-changing experience. It is also a job—one that requires a wide variety of skills. At different times, we moms are required to be doctors, teachers, mediators, chefs, bookkeepers, housekeepers, costume designers, make-up artists, jugglers and more! We need to deal with what’s happening in the moment while also planning for the future. We meet many of the wants and needs of our partners, friends and even our community. On top of all that, many of us have to earn an income or even support our families.
While many women might feel like they might buckle under the pressure, most of us just say we’ve “got it” and do all we can to take care of what comes with the job. Some of us get so consumed by the demands of our children and families that we are left exhausted and even depleted. In my role as a therapist, I have spoken to many mothers who tell me they are so busy focusing on everyone else that they have forgotten their own needs.
Take care of yourself, too
This Mother’s Day, why not give yourself a gift, and choose this celebratory moment to commit to taking better care of yourself? I have suggested this idea to a few moms I know, and while many welcomed the idea, I’ve also gotten looks of concern and resistance. Some women feel a sense of obligation or guilt when it comes to taking care of their families, almost as if self-sacrifice is part of the job description once we become mothers.
While I do believe it is normal for mothers to make sacrifices, I also think it’s imperative we realize there is a line between sacrifice and suffering. Sadly, many moms I talk to are suffering because they are not getting their needs met. This is not healthy, and there is nothing to feel ashamed of when it comes to practicing self-care.
Replenish your energy
1. Keep something in the tank
When the mother suffers, the children suffer. If we are depleted, we have little or nothing left to give. Keep this in mind when you think about self-care.
2. Put it on the calendar
Schedule “mommy time” on your to-do list. Bubble baths, long walks, dinner out with mom friends (don’t only talk about the kids at these!) are all great ways to recharge. If we don’t plan for fun and relaxation, it may not happen.
3. Phone a friend
Build a support system that can cover you when you are in a jam. We all need friends who can pick up the kids, loan a cup of sugar, help with a project, etc., when we are in a bind.
4. Find fun
Domestic life can feel routine. Remember what activities you enjoyed as a kid. Find times to laugh with friends as well as your family. It relieves stress and lifts your mood.
5. Draw the line
Establish healthy boundaries. Set limits on your time; create rules for the family to follow that will make your life easier; learn to say no.
6. Mom is not your doormat (chauffeur, chef, maid, etc.)
If people see that they can take advantage of you with no repercussions, they will. If your family knows you will stay up all night to finish their last-minute projects, they will think nothing of handing you their night-before homework the next time.
7. Be well
Develop healthy physical and emotional habits. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat healthy food and make time to exercise. Monitor your emotional and spiritual self on a regular basis, and deal with negative feelings as they arise.
Listen to our podcast: The Perfect Parent, with Stacy Kaiser
Stacy Kaiser is a licensed psychotherapist, author, relationship expert and media personality. She is also the author of the best-selling book How to Be a Grown Up: The Ten Secret Skills Everyone Needs to Know and an editor at large for Live Happy. Stacy is a frequent guest on television programs such as Today and Good Morning America.