Julie's article published on Chris Freytag.com appears below: Taking care of yourself is one of the most important gifts you can give to your child/ren, and of course, yourself. As a mother, taking care of your children is one of your highest priorities, and sometimes, taking care of yourself gets put on the back burner. Putting others’ needs in front of your own may work for a while, but eventually, it won’t, and most likely will carry negative consequences. The hazards of neglecting yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally can include health problems, anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. These issues will not only have an adverse effect on you, but your children will feel them and most likely be affected by them as well. Therefore, taking care of yourself is an integral part of taking care of your children.
Self-care is a daily struggle for so many busy moms today. Some moms develop the habit early on in their motherhood journey, and intrinsically understand that self-care is an essential component of being a competent mom. Other moms are more apt to become swallowed up by the pressures of motherhood and find that taking care of themselves continues to slip down on their priority list. It is essential to realize that securing the sacred time you need to nurture yourself will take effort, planning and even some creativity.
Many moms feel that they have to fight too hard to carve out time for themselves. Between jobs, spouses, children and other commitments, it is not easy to find spare moments in the day. Sometimes you may have to miss a baseball scrimmage or leave the house even when your toddler is crying for you to stay with her. But the importance of establishing “me time” is as important as spending time with and nurturing your children. As one mother of two children recently shared with me, “I’ve had to realize that sacrifice is a normal part of parenting, but there has to be a limit. I must set boundaries and set apart time that is just for me in order to be a healthy enough person to parent well.”
To be a clear-headed, strong mom, who can be a good role model for your children, you need to be healthy in mind, body and spirit. The only way that is going to happen is by making sure you are nurturing all aspects of yourself, which involves carving out necessary time for YOU.
The zillion-dollar question that so many moms ask is, “How in the world am I going to take care of myself when there are some days that I barely have time to go to the bathroom?!” There is no clear-cut, fail-proof way to do this. Yet very single day, you must simply ask yourself, “What am I going to do to take care of myself TODAY?”
Here are some helpful tips for you moms struggling to carve out time for yourself:
1. Figure what kind of self care you need most today. Do you need exercise (would be great if you could do some kind of movement every day), extra sleep, time alone, with a girl friend or with your partner?
2. Figure out how you are going to make at least one of the above ideas happen.
3. You may need to be creative:
• Ask for help. Call grandma, a neighbor, a friend to come over to watch your child/ren so you can sleep, workout, meet your husband for lunch, or do whatever you need for you (not run errands for the kids!)
• If you work outside the home, plan a walk with a girlfriend over your lunch hour or during a break.
• Take the kids to the childcare facility at your gym to so you can workout and/or enjoy a nice long, hot shower without the fear of a child interrupting you.
• Go for a jog or walk when your spouse gets home from work, or get up early to meditate or get to an exercise or yoga class.
• If you have young kids and it is too difficult to leave the house, make sure you have a few good meditation or exercise dvds for you to do when your baby or toddler is napping.
• Do you have a flight of stairs in your home or apartment building? Use them!
• Keep some hand held weights by your desk at your office.
• For additional tips on exercise, nutrition and overall self-care, check out Chris Freytag’s Live Fit: 101 Tips for Your Fitness.
There is no doubt that as a mother, taking good care of yourself requires you to be intentional in making sure you will have that time to do so. And even with good planning, you still may encounter grumbles from your spouse or tears from your child when you leave to go do something just for you. The big picture? There is no question that doing so will make you a happier, healthy woman and mother, and a wonderful role model for your children.