The term ‘self-care’ has been used all over lately – I see it hash-tagged on Instagram, in quotes on the Internet, and in so many other places. I think for some, it can have negative connotations – especially in the parenting world. For me, though, self-care was a term in my vocabulary years before I became a mother. But it means something totally different to me now.
What self-care used to look like:
- monthly massages
- ample time spent reading
- travel abroad and exploring local places
- staying in on a weekend night if I felt I needed rest
- savoring my food and not rushing through meals
- spa days with girlfriends
- solitude days and other contemplative meditations
The second I become a parent, however, all of that changed, and it changed drastically. This new little person brought more joy than I ever thought possible, yet more exhaustion than I had ever known. So, if self-care was a necessity in my life before I had children, it was absolutely, positively needed once I became a mother.
I remember when I served at my old church as a young adult, we were encouraged to be a part of a huddle group so that we were “poured into” – a preventative measure to keep us from burning out. I so appreciated that direction from church leaders who were taking care of us in this way. As a parent, it should be no different. In order to pour into our little ones, I firmly believe we need to receive whatever it is that pours into us.
We should not put ourselves on the back burner – motherhood does that for us naturally as it is. Obviously, since becoming a parent, I’m not able to do the same things I used to. I do manage to work bigger chunks of self-care time in here and there – things such as a spa afternoon every once in awhile, regular workouts, date nights, wine with girlfriends, and even nights or weekends away. But those are few and far between.
Self-care has taken on a new meaning for me in this season of life with young children. I am finding that it is often the small things I do in my daily routine that make me feel valued. Just knowing that I’m making myself a priority, even if in a small way, can help feed my soul and rejuvenate me a bit.
What self-care looks like now:
- 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 (most of the time)
- buying a new piece of jewelry or new clothes once in awhile to show myself I’m important too – with the realization that when I look my best, I feel my best
- praying or 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
Another thing I have found to be fulfilling is rediscovering my old passions. I love the quote: “The things you are passionate about are not random. They are your calling.” (quote by Fabienne Frederickson) Whatever that calling is – honor it, and it is bound to bring you joy. Whether it is painting old furniture, sketching, or baking – find what it is that makes you feel alive. It may be separate from taking care of your children, which sounds counterintuitive since, as parents, we feel spread so thin as it is. But it really adds a different dynamic to life. Writing, decorating my house, and experimenting with makeup and fashion has helped me rediscover my identity as a whole person, not just as a mother.
I’m so grateful for these many realizations along the way in my motherhood journey. Although I am exhausted many days (par for the course, I think, for any parent), I can definitely say I feel more refreshed and like my old self again from putting these many self-care practices into place. Parenting isn’t aways easy, but when we stop to care for ourselves, too, I think it only adds to our contentment. And what child doesn’t want a happier mother?