Mother’s have a very important role in the household. We are often the main caretakers of our homes and our families. We are responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly. We are selfless givers of our love, time and attention. Often, we are so busy making sure that everyone’s needs are met that we neglect our own. You may think that you are doing this for the best interest of your family. However, you are actually doing them a disservice.
There are several reasons why mothers don’t prioritize their own needs. You may feel guilty taking time for yourself. Perhaps you don’t know how you can possibly find the time. I get it! I really do! I was you. I want to share my story with you in the hopes that you will see the effects that this mentality can have.
About 3 years ago I was working two jobs from home. One was an overnight position and the other was scheduled during the day. I was also the one responsible for the care of my home and my family as my husband worked full time outside the home. At the time, I did this to help make ends meet. My husband’s job was unreliable and we needed some kind of security.
As you can imagine, I was not getting anywhere near enough sleep. On the days I had to work overnight, my mother-in-law came to watch the kids for a few hours so I could sleep, but I found it nearly impossible to sleep during the day. I was exhausted and my decision making suffered greatly. There were several occasions I nearly fell asleep while driving. It was very dangerous.
Additionally, between working my two jobs and taking care of my family and I would often forget to eat. By mid-day I would be shaking with hunger and would just shove whatever I could find in my mouth to hold me over. I would be sucking down coffee several times a day in an attempt to boost my extremely low energy and drank hardly any water. I was very grouchy to my kids and my husband. I would yell at my kids over things that were not important and most days ended in tears on both sides. When it came to my husband, everything he said or did made me feel angry. I would blow up at him at just the slightest provocation. My family was suffering and something needed to change.
Eventually I was laid off from my overnight job. By that time, my husband had gotten a promotion and his work was more steady. To say I was relieved was an understatement. When I first got the news that I was laid off, I immediately called my husband and celebrate. I know this is not a typical reaction to a layoff, but for me, at that time, it was a blessing. But this experience did teach me a wonderful lesson that I will not soon forget. I learned how important it is to prioritize my own needs and not feel guilty about doing it.
Self-care is often thought of as an extravagant day at the spa or regular date nights with your husband. I do not do either of these things. My husband works too much to have date nights and a day at the spa is just not in my budget. Making sure you are recharged and your tank is full can be really simple. Here are some of the ways I make sure that I am at my best.
Eat Regularly and Eat Right
Make sure you are eating throughout your day and make sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs. In fact, I just took a quick break from writing this to eat my lunch. If you are having a hard day, you may have the urge to turn to junk food in the hopes it will make you feel better. It will definitely make you feel better, but only for a short while. After the joy of eating the treat fades away, you will be left feeling less than stellar. I find that when I turn to junk food I can have both physical (headaches, upset stomach, low energy) and emotional reactions (grouchiness). Keeping your body nourished with healthy food will keep you feeling your best.
Drink Plenty Of Water
This is one I really struggled with until very recently. I would sometimes drink less than 1 full cup of water per day. When you’re energy is low, it can be all too easy to turn to coffee. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with drinking coffee, it is also important to be sure that you are well hydrated. I have committed to drinking at least 3 quarts of water per day. I keep track by filling up a quart size mason jar at the beginning of the day. Once it is empty, I fill it up again and continue this all day long. I have also made a promise to myself that I will not drink any coffee until I have finished at least one quart of water. And if I want a second cup? You guessed it, I need to finish another quart of water.
Get Plenty Of Sleep
Sleep is still an area that I have trouble with. If you ask my mother, she will tell you that I was never a good sleeper, even as an infant. Not much has changed. I know that I am a much happier and patient person when I get plenty of sleep, but the trouble is actually falling asleep. It doesn’t matter how tired I am, it seems like the second I lay down, my brain starts to go crazy. This is something I am actively working towards getting better at. Those of you who are good sleepers, I would love to hear your secrets!
Enjoy The Quiet
If you are an introvert like me than you crave solitude. When my older kids are at school and my youngest is napping, I will sometimes just sit on my couch and soak in the afternoon sun with a warm drink in my hand. It is my favorite time of day. If you don’t have a time in your day like this, find it elsewhere. Try getting up early if you are a morning person, or even staying up a little later if you are a night owl (provided you are getting enough sleep). Have your husband watch the kids so you can have some time to yourself. When you have that time, don’t try and do anything productive, like planning your day or what to have for dinner. That will just defeat the purpose. Just sit and enjoy it
Do Something For You
Take some time to do something that you really love to do. Maybe your a creative type who loves to paint and write, or maybe you love yoga. Schedule a time each week to do it. Notice how I said “schedule a time”. This is important because if you don’t actually schedule it, it won’t happen. There will always be something more pressing that you need to do. Don’t neglect your own desires for the sake of the laundry or a sink full of dirty dishes. Those things will still be waiting for you when you get back. Doing something that you love will fill you up and leave you feeling recharged.
I hope that after reading this you understand the importance of prioritizing yourself and see the huge drawbacks of not doing so. Incorporating some of these habits into your day will make for a much happier you and your family will thank you for it.