Five Things Mothers Should Do To Take Care of Themselves
This blog post is part of the Week of Self-Love hosted by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt of annesophie.us. The lovely Anne-Sophie has a blog, a podcast and lots of wonderful videos about self-love, success and controlling that Lizard Brain.
This week she is hosting a blog carnival, and I am honoured to be invited to contribute to it.
Self-care can be a tricky subject, especially for mothers. We feel guilty if we spend time or money strictly on ourselves – a mani-pedi, some quiet time, a book just for us to read, a gym membership. Surely, that nasty little voice whispers in our head, that money or time could be better spent on other, more important things. We spend hours driving the kids all over the city, but an hour in the gym is a waste of time. We buy lovely clothes for our children, but skimp on our own. We cook for our family, but when it’s just us, we have Oreos for dinner. We put ourselves at the bottom of our priority list, because that’s what mothers do, right?
I truly believe that that kind of thinking killed my own mother, and deprived her children and grandchildren of many good years we could have spent with her. So I feel quite passionately on the subject. It is desperately important that women, especially mothers, feel that they are important enough to be healthy, happy, balanced and fulfilled.
Here are my top five self-care ideas for mothers.
We must feed ourselves healthy food, and take the time to digest it.
Cleaning our children’s plates does not count, and neither does foraging in the fridge at odd hours. Many mothers chronically eat too few calories, and of those, way too many carbs. No wonder we constantly have our heads in the fridge. Skip the protein shake and have eggs with avocado for breakfast – and sit down for it. Get up earlier if you have to.
We must ensure we get enough sleep.
So many women burn the candle at both ends, staying up late for their quiet or social time at the computer, then getting up early to get kids off to school. No wonder we have black circles under our eyes. I have the Internet set to go out at a decent hour so my teens and I can all go to bed.
We must give ourselves the gift of time to exercise.
If the gym really doesn’t fit in your lifestyle, go for a walk. Ride a bike. Play tennis. Do something, but preferably not a six a.m. spin class. That’s just extra stress that won’t do you any good. I am addicted to kettlebells, myself, but as long as you find something you love, do it.
Stress is a real killer, both of men and women.
Chronically elevated cortisol is bad for your health in many ways. Current research connects chronic stress with body-wide inflammation, and that’s what leads to auto-immune diseases and heart issues.Take time to reduce your stress if at all possible. Leave the house on time, hire a housecleaner, learn to meditate, make time for “forest bathing“, even if it’s only in your neighbourhood park. Get some sun and air as often as you can.
If you are reading this blog post, you are already interested in wellness for yourself and your family, but take the extra step. Spend a little less time on Candy Crush and more on Mark’s Daily Apple. Don’t trust blindly in outdated dogmas (look how well they’ve worked for us in the past thirty years). Explore what is best for you and your family, because nobody knows them, and you, like you do. You are the expert on your family, and don’t let any health professional tell you differently.
Does this seem too overwhelming or guilt-inducing? Remember that tired old adage about the oxygen masks – it’s true, especially for mothers. We must be healthy and well to be able to take care of our families. Neglecting ourselves will lead to health problems and a premature death, and trust me, that will hurt our families much more than our taking time away from them to ensure our own health.
What other suggestions do you have for mothers, or indeed for anyone else? Hit the comments and let me know!