As moms, we are good at taking care of everyone else’s needs before our own. It is easy to go through our day-to-day schedules and activities with our littles not even realizing we haven’t taken time to fill our cups.
There is no specific self-care regimen to follow that will fill your cup on a daily basis. Self-care is very personal and unique from person to person. It can also take years to discover what fills your cup and it can change with time. Think about what brings you pure joy or happiness. Self-care should bring joy, peace, and happiness to your day.
As a mama, I struggled with self-care for the longest time. I knew before having kids what made me happy; throw a couple of kids in there and soon you will find the things you once had time for are no longer a priority when you have little ones to care for. It can feel overwhelming trying to care for little ones, maintain your relationships, and find time for yourself. Start slow and let your self-care practices grow.
For me, I basically woke up one day with my little ones staring me in the face at my bedside, hungry and waiting on me to get up and care for them. I remember thinking I wish I had the energy to jump out of bed and start my day. It felt like the same routine day after day was sucking the life out of me. I wasn’t happy with how I felt, I didn’t have the energy to keep up with my busy boys, I couldn’t stay awake in the evenings as I was just drained come bedtime. I felt guilty not doing things like going to the park, getting outside and active with my boys, etc. I made a commitment to myself to make my health a priority with a journey to health and fitness because I wanted energy to keep up with my sweet boys, I didn’t want to roll over and see their faces waiting for their mom to sluggishly roll out of bed. It has been a journey year after year, and it has changed my life. My boys were supportive of my fitness plan; they would bring their chairs into the living room and cheer me one while I did my workouts. Some days, they would even join in. This helped motivate me to see that they were content to sit and watch me work out.
Give yourself permission to step away from your daily to-do list, the kids, the activities, and work. Allow yourself time to nourish your mental, emotional, and physical health. When we take the time to nourish ourselves we are more joyful, relaxed, healthy, and sane. It improves our mood and decreases anxiety. It is important for relationships with ourselves and others. Self-care isn’t something we force ourselves to do or doing something that we don’t enjoy doing as this can feel like it is more of a chore. Self-care should refuel us as opposed to taking from us. Self-care can be a challenge. It can be really difficult for us to step aside from the busyness of our lives to assess what we really need mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Where to start with self-care:
Start basic and build on. It takes time to develop your routine and find what will serve you best. Start with small and simple while you are in this busy stage of life as a parent, and try to squeeze it in when possible. Maybe it is reading or watching a show uninterrupted for 10 minutes a day, going for a walk, having your spouse take the baby so you can have a shower or have a tub.
Self-care is something that you are actively planning, it is not going to just happen. You will have to start with scheduling it into your calendar, make commitments with friends, and actively search for self-care activities that may serve you.
Being aware of what you do, why you do it, and how it makes you feel and the outcome from doing it can be beneficial in determining whether something is serving you. Self-care routines won’t look the same from day to day. Try finding a few minutes for yourself each day. The more we take care of ourselves the more it becomes routine in our daily lives.
One of my favourite things to do is start my day with the sunshine. If you can’t be outside, sitting by the window works well. Morning daylight exposure helps to calibrate your body’s circadian rhythm. It has also been tied to better sleep and less stress.
Taking care of your health by fueling your body with nutritious foods that make you feel good. Getting enough sleep, for adults between 7-8 hours per night. Exercise increases serotonin levels, which improves mood and energy levels. Choose a form of exercise you actually like; it won’t serve you if you are doing something you don’t like.
Spend time with loved ones. Investing time and energy into the relationships that mean the most to you. Saying “No” to things that are not serving you, like toxic relationships or stressful outings. Asking for help is often a big one for mamas, as no one wants to feel like they are burdening others. Other people often enjoy helping others out.
Find opportunities to laugh. Relaxation exercises or meditation throughout your day. Be intentional with your time.
Try and learn new things and challenge yourself.
Practice positivity. Share what you’re grateful for daily. Avoid complaining and gossip. Give and be kind to others, because kindness helps us feel purposeful and good.