HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!
Self-Care Tips for Mothers
While we're busy caring for others, let's not forget to be kind to ourselves.
Most of us give generously of our time and energy to family members, friends, and co-workers--and often ignore our own needs. It may not be until we become physically or mentally exhausted, or financially depleted, that we wake up and pay attention to our own needs. At that point we remember the wisdom of the flight attendant: Put on your oxygen mask first, and then you'll be able to help others.
Fill Your Own Cup
It is essential to tend to your basic needs and avoid burnout. You can build a strong reservoir of energy by "filling your own cup" with enough sleep, good nutrition, and medical care. We moms need to learn to care for ourselves as well as nurture and tend to our children.
Give Yourself Time to Adjust
When you add children to your life, your priorities become guided by a new North Star. Be kind to yourself and understand it will take time to adjust to your life as a mother. Women are often given very unrealistic expectations about motherhood, and the gap between expectation and reality can lead to disappointment. Exhaustion, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy can surface. By realizing that these feelings are normal—typical, if not ideal—you can spare yourself from on piling guilt during this adjustment period.
Allow Interests to Surface
You energy might start flowing in new directions that do not seem productive at first. But if you pay attention, you may learn something interesting about yourself
Express Your Creativity
Creativity is an underutilized secret weapon of motherhood. As a mother, you use your creativity when you play make-believe games or do projects with your children. But a few hours of pure creative engagement apart from your family can do a lot to recharge your batteries.
Use Family Teamwork
It’s natural to want to prove ourselves competent as parents, but it’s also worth remembering that a mother’s ultimate task is to send capable young adults into the world. Enlist family teamwork from day one with your partner, and bring the children into the circle of family responsibility as soon as you can. Even little kids can help clean up with a sponge or child-size cleaning tools. Don’t worry about whether they are doing the task perfectly, but encourage progress and participation. Fathers are such an important part of the parenting equation as well.
Build Your Support Network
The older I get, the more I realize that all families will face crises from time to time. It may be as simple as a flat tire that makes you late to school pickup, or as complicated as spouse or elderly parent getting sick and transitioning from being a caregiver to needing care. The key to coping in a crisis is to start developing a wide and deep support system before you actually need it. Who’s on your speed dial? You want to develop a set of close connections you can depend on in a pinch—and know that you would do the same for them. If you feel awkward about asking for help, you can start by offering help to friends as you get to know them better.
Keep Investing in Yourself
I encourage women to take a lifelong view of their personal and professional development. In these days of economic insecurity, every mother needs to be prepared to take her career into her own hands if necessary. If you are currently at home with your kids, you can still keep in touch with your professional contacts, credentials and identity. It can also be a good time to explore new interests that could translate into a job later on. If you are currently in the paid workforce, you may need to carve out time for your personal interests. Motherhood is such a demanding role that it can seem to stretch on forever, but the eye-opening truth is that many of us will live more years as empty-nesters than we spent with our kids at home.
Stay Open to the World
The world needs your leadership. Even if you are overwhelmed with family life and your daily tasks, you can remain open to a calling or cause that speaks to you. Motherhood gives us an understanding of the world’s deep hunger and the capability to fill those needs through our skills, empathy, and leadership.