Being a mom is busy. There is so much to do. To take care of your kids. As well as other responsibilities you may have. This is why your own self-care needs can get pushed to the back burner. You might feel like you don’t have the time. Or that taking care of yourself is selfish. Because then that means that you aren’t actively taking care of your children.
I hear you, Mama. This is something I personally struggle with. Truthfully, taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. If you don’t take care of yourself, everything you have to give will eventually dry up leaving you unable to care for not only your kids but others.
Remember, when you are on an airplane and the flight attendant gives the speech about what to do in an emergency? There is a part where they talk about if the cabin of the airplanes loses pressure, the oxygen masks are released. They tell you that you should put on your own mask before helping anyone else.
You can’t help others unless you are helping yourself first. Not selfish at all. From a practical standpoint, it might be hard to know how to make yourself a priority. Here are 8 tips on how to do just that.
How to Make Yourself a Priority
1. Fill Your Own Cup
If you are constantly running on empty, then you will be unable to give all of your best. Make sure you are taking time for yourself. To nuture yourself and to give yourself a break.
This is so much easier said then done with kids. But still, oh so important. If time is hard to come by, then you might need to accept help, which leads me to my second point.
2. Accept Help
Especially when you have a baby, there is usually someone, a family member, friend, neighbor who want to help you in some way. Or if you were to ask for help, they would give it. It is easy to start to feel like you have to do everything yourself. Maybe you feel like accepting help or asking for it is a sign of weakness. You are not weak nor do you have to do everything yourself.
Once you have some help, you can take a break. You definitely deserve a break. And it is good for you. Makes you a better, happier and calmer mom.
3. Don’t Ignore Your Feelings
You are in a constant state of doing. So it can be easy to ignore your feelings because you might not take the time to sit with your thoughts and feelings and move through them. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed, out of control and like you are failing.
Neglecting this major part of your psyche directly impacts your relationships, especially with your kids. If you are feeling completely stressed out and on edge, then you might not be addressing the many layers within. Now is the time.
4. Take a Social Media Break
Social media can be great for connecting with the world and for learning. It can also make you feel like the lousiest mom on the planet. When you see how perfect other mom’s homes, life’s, and kids seem to be. When you don’t have the time, money or crafting skill to duplicate amazing Pinterest crafts. When you start to play the comparison game and feel like you are not good enough.
Social media usually doesn’t show the piles of dirty laundry lying around, the messy kitchen or the utter fatigue and exhaustion felt staying up all night with baby. When you compare your reality with someone else’s highlight reel, the guilt and negative self talk increases.
So, how do you crawl out of the rabbit hole of comparison and doubt?
Take a break. For as long as you want. Be that a day, a week, a month or even longer. When you do come back, unfollow or hide posts from anyone that makes you feel less than. This could be anyone, including friends and family. Only follow accounts that inspire you, teach you, or add to your life. You’ll feel lighter almost immediately.
One of the best ways to implement self-care is by exercising. I know it is something you have heard a million times. Maybe you don’t think you have enough time or energy. Or you think it is boring.
Exercising doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need fancy or expensive equipment, to spend hours, join a class or go to the gym. (Unless any of this is your jam. In that case, go for it.)
Find something that gets your body moving and you enjoy. Go on a walk with your little ones, dance or follow a simple at-home workout in the comfort of your own living room. Not only will it be invigorating, there are also health benefits, such as boosting your energy and immunity, improving your sleep and even helping you think more clearly.
Also, you will be setting an example for your kids to follow. Win-win.
6. Give Yourself a Time-Out
Although it is not always possible to get a daily nap (I wish) or to excuse yourself from most frustrating situations, you can give yourself a break. Just go to another room and cool down for a bit. Breathe. Maybe take some deep breaths. When you come back, you will be more cool and collected.
7. Let Your Kids be Bored
Wait, say what? When you hear those two little words, “I’m bored,” it’s enough to induce a frenzy of googling activities to do and local events to go to as well as sending you down the Pinterest rabbit hole for crafts and snacks to make. And if your little ones aren’t interested in those ideas, you give up and allow them another hour of screen time.
So, this begs the question, why do you need to entertain them all the time?
Let them be bored.
Everyone experiences it and I’m pretty sure no one has died from boredom. (Although one might feel like they will.) And it is not something your children need protection from.
Boredom actually has all kinds of benefits. Boredom leads to creativity. Once a child is in the state of nothing left to do, their brain really starts firing. This leads to innovative thoughts, which is a good thing.
There might be a lot of whining before they come up with something to do, but that is what will happen. On the off chance that doesn’t happen, your kid might need some help to figure out what to do. Make a list with them of activities they can always go back too. If that doesn’t work, you can make a list of chores for them or ask the to help you clean.
Allowing your children to figure things out and to problem-solve on their own is a valuable skill that will benefit them their whole life. Also, you’ll probably get some valuable me-time out of it.
8. Learn to Say “No”
This is a big one. In fact, this is something that can be learned from kids. They do not shy away from saying “no,” but rather say it all the time. It is not always at appropriate times or places, but the intent is the same – they don’t want to do what they don’t want to do.
Now of course, this isn’t always possible for toddlers or adults. But, learning to say no firmly and directly, without apology or explanation sends a clear message – you and you alone are in charge of your own life.