I am the literal worst at self care. I have gone a week without a shower because “I couldn’t find the time.” I am so bad at asking for help. Even worse, I am so bad at recognizing my own needs to even ask others for their help. But I am working on taking better care of myself, and, Mama, you need to take care of yourself too.
How many times are we burning the wick at both ends? Giving all that we can on little sleep to all of the people that we can. This is exasperated for me by the fact that I’m an enneagram 2 (if you haven’t heard of the enneagram check out this podcast that introduced me to it- I’m obsessed). Being a 2 means that I’m a nurturer by nature. I tend to put others needs above my own, and I feel needy or selfish when I ask for something that benefits me.
This isn’t an inherently bad thing, but lately it has been catching up with me. As a stay at home mom to two littles under the age of three, I feel like I always have to be on. I need to kiss the owies, make the mac and cheese, and be present at all times. Or so I feel. What often gets neglected is my care for myself. Last week, we were quarantined in the house for the full week due to a weird virus, and I’m learning that not being able to leave the house sets off some triggers for me. My mental health took a nice little dive on, ironically, World Mental Health Day.
Luckily, I’m starting to understand the things I need to do to reset myself, to reinvest in myself, and to pull myself back together. My dips in mental health aren’t too bad. But I do need to watch myself and make sure I don’t allow myself to get to an unhealthy place. Mama, you need to watch yourself too. This list is for the mamas like me, the ones who forget that you need to take time for self care too. If for no other reason than it will help you be more present for your children (for those of you who need an external reason like me 😉 ).
1) Take a Shower
Like I said, I’ve been known to put off showers for faaaaar too long because who has time for that? I have time for that. I just don’t allow my time to be used for that. It’s funny because so often I dread taking the time to take a shower, to have that time to myself, and then once I’m in, I don’t want to get out. Sometimes, all it takes to reset is to get right back to the basics.
Take a shower. Shave your legs. Put on some nice lotion. Brush your teeth. Put on some real clothes. It’s crazy how taking just that little amount of time to do something so basic, can allow you a whole new outlook on the other side. And when I say take a shower, I mean a shower alone- not one with your kiddos right outside the door! Figure out what needs to happen for this to happen and do it (at least once a week 😉 ).
2) Do something that’s fun for you
One of the funniest questions I think gets posed to mothers is “what are your hobbies?” I’m a mom, I don’t have time for hobbies! Like I said, I barely have time to shower! But, I do think it’s so important for us to have something that we do for ourselves, something that makes us feel like the full grown human that we are. Whether that’s reading, sewing, running, or whatever else floats your boat, find that thing that makes you smile for yourself again. Something that you look forward to picking up again.
Personally, I’ve been getting into reading again, and it’s been such a good form of self care for myself. Not only have I been able to escape my daily life by diving into good books, I’ve also been able to work my brain a little bit. I have things to talk about with real live humans! This blog has been a really good hobby for me as well- something creative that I’m doing for myself. Maybe you can’t devote time to a hobby every day, but maybe you can once or twice a week. By starting small, you can find that thing that brings you life and fills your spirit up so that you can go out and be present for others again.
3) Get some quiet time
As a mom, I get it, finding quiet time in your day is easier said than done! What is quiet, even!? I’ve discovered that I desperately need to have at least a small pocket of quiet time everyday for my own sanity. I try to structure my kiddo’s naps and bedtimes in a way that I can ensure that. When kiddo sleep gets out of whack, I tend to get a little freaked out and worry about when my next moment of quiet will come. Maybe this is a Holly thing or an introvert thing, but I don’t think it is completely.
We all need a little time to sit with just ourselves and allow the quiet to sweep over. For me that often looks like getting my prayer time in during the (hopefully) overlapping nap times for my kids. For you, it might be waking up earlier than the kids to meditate or it might be sitting in a room with noise canceling headphones on for five minutes while your kiddos play by themselves in a safe space. I’m finding that no matter what it is, I need to use this time to unplug from everything around me and just be (no cell phone allowed). If you’re like me and need this time desperately, talk to the people in your life and figure out a way to get it.
4) Get out of the house alone
This is another one that is easier said than done for a lot of moms. As I’ve gotten further into my staying at home journey, I’ve found that finding times that I can get out of the house alone is another thing that I need to incorporate into my self care routine in order to be a better mom. By taking time by myself away from my kiddos, I’m able to come back to them and appreciate them more. I’ve been trying to get a couple hours each weekend, and it has truly been lifegiving.
If you’re having a hard time getting out of the house by yourself right now, start thinking of strategies that will help you get there. Actually take up that friend who says she’ll watch your children. Ask your husband to take the kids for the afternoon on the weekend. See what family could help you get that time out. Or even hire a babysitter for a couple hours. People will help you out- you just need to ask. And once you do get out of the house- do something that fills you up (not just errands!) My first couple outings by myself were simply going to a coffee shop and coloring in an adult coloring book for an hour. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, just do something for you.
5) Talk to someone who cares about you
Find your tribe of people that you can turn to to help build you up. Whether it’s your husband, your mom, or your best friend, find time to chat with them. And when you do, be honest when they ask how you are. They know that you love your children more than anything in the world. They also know that they love you and want the best for you, outside of being a mom. Let them push you into doing something for yourself when they see you wavering.
If you feel like you don’t have someone to talk to, reach out. Find a good mom’s group, either in person or on the internet. Message someone that you used to be really close to- see what they’re up to, be vulnerable with them if it seems right. Reach out to me- my inbox is always ready for you (I am a 2 after all!) In today’s time of isolation, reach out and find those people who will listen to you and who will push you to be the best version of yourself, which includes taking the time for your own self care.
Your needs are important, Mama. You can’t pour from an empty glass, so find what fills your glass and do more of that. Give yourself grace to have bad days, but don’t let yourself dwell in them. Find your strategies to pull yourself back up and allow others around you to help you. Allow yourself to be nurtured and cared for. If not for you, for the benefit of those around you. Know that I’m speaking to myself too, and I’m on this journey with you. With that being said, I’d love to hear your basic self care tips- let me know what yours are by dropping a comment below or chatting with me on Instagram or Facebook! I can’t wait to have you as part of my tribe <3