“Self-love is asking yourself what you need – every day – and then making sure you receive it.” ~ Unknown ~
I hate the phrase “self care.” I hated it so much, that even as a sleep deprived, totally exhausted mother of 4 young kids, I wouldn’t have dreamt of indulging in anything of the sort.
Self care was for other women, for weak women. I didn’t need something as frivolous as rest. I was strong, capable, and pretty committed to doing it all, all the time. I thought moms who never slowed down and were the most exhausted won. If that was true, I would have earned a gold medal. Instead, I had bone deep exhaustion and a simmering resentment for motherhood.
I wanted desperately to be a good mom and so I did all the things I thought I good mom should…put herself last, give selflessly, work hard, and do it all, day after day after day. I didn’t know any other way than to give all of myself.
But when you give all of yourself away, there’s nothing left. You cannot pour from an empty cup. You cannot care for your people when you are totally depleted. You cannot be the wife and mother you want to be exhausted. And you cannot continue to devalue your own wants, needs, and desires.
It’s time to redefine self care. It’s time to take back the phrase and claim it as our own. It’s time to stop feeling weak or not enough for being human. It’s time to put ourselves back on our own priority list.
Committing to Self Care
Committing to self care begins with a decision. Decide that you are ready to let go of who you think you should be, so that you can become the mom you actually want to be, rested, happy, whole, and able to love her family without resentment.
We can prioritize self care all day long, but if we don’t accept ourselves we will never achieve the sense of peace our soul’s crave. Women are taught from a very young age to compare ourselves to other women. Moms are no exception. In fact, I think moms struggle with this most of all. We see what others are doing and instantly feel like we aren’t doing enough. Our kids aren’t as well behaved, our house isn’t as clean, we don’t make enough home cooked meals, we yell too much…the list goes on and on. We can go from feeling content and happy to utterly awful in a matter of minutes. Comparison really is the thief of joy.
We must learn to extend ourselves grace and patience. We have to lower our ridiculous standards, let go of the desire to prove our worth through actions, and leave room for rest, self love, and simple self-indulgent pleasures. We have to stop pushing ourselves to be “enough” so we can actually enjoy this season of our life.
Your value is not connected to how hard you work, the effort you exert, or how much you give.
Stop confusing perfection, effort, and sacrifice with love. Love doesn’t have anything to do with homemade Halloween costumes, giving up your career, or putting yourself last. Love is about being there with your whole being, allowing yourself to give and receive, and totally BE present, no matter what.
You have nothing to prove or earn. You are worthy of rest, help, and the love you so freely give everyone else. You are perfectly imperfect, as we all are. And that’s enough momma.
You are a human BEING, not a human doing.
Accept and love yourself where you are, without conditions or objections.
Our kids will take a happy, present, imperfect mom over a perfect, exhausted, resentful one any day.
You are enough. You are more than enough.
So often when we hear “self-care” we reflexively respond with an involuntary eye roll. Who has time for that?! If we are totally drowning in this season of motherhood, we can’t imagine finding time for self care. We can’t imagine sneaking in a shower or solo bathroom break, let alone spa days and bubble baths. It feels impossible and out of reach. When we need it most, we can’t see a way to make it happen so we do nothing and hope we’ll survive.
There’s another way. Yes, you need a break, a real break to rest, recharge, and remember you’re a human and not an on demand dairy cow, but maybe that’s really not possible right now. Instead of giving up, start where you are.
Self Care is a Mindset
Shift your mindset and think of self care differently. Self care is about doing what you can, where you are, to care for yourself. Maybe that means letting the baby cry an extra 3 minutes so you can go to the bathroom alone. Maybe it’s taking a few minutes after your shower to put on some good lotion and connect with your body. Maybe it’s just slowing down, chewing, and really eating your meal instead of juggling a toddler on one hip while eating (and not tasting) his leftover cold chicken nuggets.
Self care is not necessarily about doing different things, it’s about doing things differently. How can you be present in your life? Where can you add a small break, a breath, or a connection with your body to ground you? When we bring ourselves back to the present moment and make even the smallest efforts to care for ourselves, we feel better.
Carry that mindset forward, always look for ways to nourish and recharge your soul, even in the most trying of times. Know you are worth it. Know it is up to you and you alone to care for your baby’s momma. She needs to feel her best to be the best mother she can be. Give her what you can, when you can, and make asking her what she needs and wants a priority.
Start where you are. Do what you can. Build new habits and continually invest in your own well being.
Here are 3 simple questions to help you redefine, reprioritize, and reestablish a new connection with self care.
1. What is my favorite way to rest and recharge?
2. When do I feel most relaxed, connected to myself, and at peace?
3. How can I make more non-negotiable time in each day to care for myself?
It’s simple, but not easy. Start by exploring your own desires and begin to understand what you actually need. You might not even remember the last time you felt really rested or recharged. Momma I get it, but figuring out what your tired soul is craving is a vital first step. Self care is ultimately about connecting to yourself, knowing your needs, and making them a priority, even when, especially when, life gets crazy.