“Similar to a garden, we all reflect the kind of care we are given. If we are intentional about watering and getting sun, we will also bloom and thrive like the flower does. As mothers, it is so, so easy to neglect ourselves and wither away. Self-care is crucial as a caregiver. Keep pushing for it. It will keep you alive and growing.”
The only consolation in this situation was the sweet support from my girlfriends:
“We have all been there.”
“Have grace for yourself.”
“I had this happen recently, too.”
“You’re an amazing mom.”
“Mothering is just hard all around.”
These simple words of agreement made me feel less alone. Each friend built me up and also quickly moved on which made me feel known, loved and human like each one of them. I make mistakes. We all do. I know it’s important our kids see our imperfect selves, but for some reason this time I couldn’t shake it off. I felt like a complete and total failure as a mother.
I knew in my heart why things had veered so drastically off track. I had been with my kids around the clock for weeks with virtually no breaks. We had also just returned from traveling, which is draining and exhausting with small children. They become restless and whiny and just want their routine back. I feel you, kids. I want mine back too.
I had fallen away from my self-care regimen and it was showing. I’m usually pretty intentional at scheduling breaks for myself in order to avoid mom burnout. Since my husband works long hours, self-care often looks like booking a sitter if he isn’t able to give me a night off or I need some time during the day. Other times it looks like a pedicure, a workout or simply a bubble bath at the end of a hard day. Self-care is recognizing my own needs and what helps me to refuel. Personally, this allows me to pour back into my children and nurture their little souls in a new, refreshed way.
If a break isn’t possible to get back on track, I try to incorporate these small ways of caring for myself in the meantime:
- reading a magazine during naptime instead of doing laundry or the countless other things there are to do
- treating myself to Starbucks or having tea in the afternoon – sometimes it’s the small things that help get me through the day
- taking time to get myself ready for each day with a real outfit and makeup
- praying/connecting to God throughout my days and seeing Him in the small moments
- valuing my home as my “workplace” and decorating it so that I feel comfortable and at peace in my own space
A lesson learned the hard way, it was definitely time to make myself a priority again. It is often challenging as a parent to find time for self-care – but when I invest in myself, it only adds to my contentment. And what child doesn’t want a happier mother?