Taking Care of Yourself While Taking Care of Others

Photo by Nathan Dunlap. From http://www.unsplash.com

Out of all the people in the world, I think moms are the worst at taking care of themselves. It is easy to see why; we spend so much time taking care of others that we don’t have time, forget, or can’t do some things to take care of ourselves. Usually it is unintentional, at the end of the day when everyone has been fed and put to bed I am so tired I am ready to go to bed too, and things I would like to, want to do, or need to do go by the wayside.

Time to do something for yourself is necessary. We need to make sure that we aren’t forgetting to think of ourselves. After all, if mom allows herself to get overwhelmed, run down, or burnt out it affects the whole family. Once that happens there is a snowball effect that is hard to bounce back from. And who is going to take care of you?

Easier said than done, right? Of course. I am a realist. I know I can’t just go get a massage or go off and chill by myself at the drop of a hat. My husband will sometimes go out for a beer with his friends after the kids have gone to bed or have the guys over to watch a movie in his man cave. I have to admit that it makes me a little jealous at times because I don’t feel like I can do those same kind of things when I want to.

There are ways of taking care of yourself, even when it seems impossible. Some of the ideas I have listed below may be easier than others to incorporate into your daily routine, but you are worth it!

  • Use your support system – For those of us lucky to have one, a support system can be a life saver, or at least a sanity saver sometimes. “Let me know if you need anything,” or “Give me a call if I can help,” are two comments that family and friends often make, especially when a new baby arrives. I never wanted to bother anyone and have even been too proud to admit that I might need help. Take them up on their offer, even if it is just long enough for you to go to the grocery store alone or to get a much needed nap.
  • Wake up earlier – I love my sleep just as much as anyone, but when I am able to get out of bed even 15 or 20 minutes earlier than the rest of the family it is amazing to sit and drink my first cup of coffee without interruptions, read the news, or prep for the day ahead.
  • Relax before bed – Even if it is taking time to put down the smartphone, turn off the TV, or take a quick shower, relaxing before bed will help turn off all the stuff swirling in your brain and help you fall asleep faster.
  • Create your own ritual – Whether is taking 10 minutes out of the day to stretch, meditate, or have a hot cup of herbal tea before bed, having your own go-to personal routine can do wonders to de-stress and unwind. I like to use aroma therapy essential oils or shower bombs in the shower or do a few yoga poses to loosen up before bed.
  • Find your outlet – Do what you love- bake cookies, read, write poetry, exercise- whatever- doing something you love will allow you to express your feelings, vent your frustration, or to make you feel good.
  • Keep a pen and paper next to bed – This is an action I need to adhere to. There are so many times that I think of something in the middle of the night and I either forget about it by the next morning, lay awake thinking about it or repeat it in my head to help me remember, or almost blind myself turning on my phone to take doen a note. If you have a pen and paper at your bedside it is so much easier to write down what comes to you and sleep more peacefully.
  • Exercise – Exercise has not only physical but emotional benefits. It can help anxiety and depression, and help you to sleep better. I am guilty of saying that I don’t have time to exercise. True, I can’t spend 2 hours at the gym like I used to, but there are feasable alternatives. Get the kids up and dance, load up the baby into the stroller and take a walk if the weather is nice, or even get the family out in the back yard for a game of tag. Find out if your gym offers childcare services for members.
  • Talk it out – Call your mom, sister, or best friend and gab a while. A talk with my mom or sister is always good for a quick pick-me-up. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know, try making an appointment with a therapist or use an online service.
  • Get help – If you need help, get help.
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