When was the last time you took some time for yourself? Or simply went to the bathroom without a little person following you in or pounding on the door? Chances are, you’ve had a hard time finding that elusive time for self care since you became a mom.
After all, motherhood is full of sacrifice. Sacrificing sleep, sacrificing personal space and quiet time, sacrificing much of the time you used to spend on yourself.
It’s easy to see all the things that require sacrifice in order to care for and raise our kids. But we also know the importance of self care.
While there’s a definite reality to needing to sacrifice things for the sake of your family, there’s also an incredible need for moms to practice regular self care. But how do you balance that need for self care with the inevitable sacrifice?
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Self Care And Motherhood
It seems like just about everyone is talking about self care (especially right now, with all the quarantines going on!).
Sometimes it feels like an overused subject. Something we all know we’re supposed to do, but so many of us still struggle to make time to actually practice self care.
Motherhood is a busy time for all of us, no matter how many kids we have or how well we’re doing. It’s full of ups and downs and unexpected turns.
And while it’s incredibly rewarding, it can also be incredibly draining. Which is why it’s so, so important to take the time to practice self care as a mom.
You can’t poor from an empty cup.
Think of yourself as a cup. A cup filled with love, care, attention, and everything else you pour into your family.
Every day, you pour the contents of that cup into your family. And it’s a good thing!
But if you never take the time to fill that cup back up again, you won’t have anything of worth to pour back into your family.
Too often, once we become a mom we forget to take the time necessary to refill our cup. Instead of taking the time to care for ourselves as well, we try to keep pouring even when there’s nothing left.
Eventually this leads to burnout, exhaustion, and a pretty miserable mom. And when mom is not doing well, we all know no one else is, either.
Why moms skip self care
If a mom said she didn’t wish for more time for herself, most of us would probably think she was lying. It’s no secret that moms are typically short on time to spend on caring for themselves.
But most of us also recognize how important it is. Why then do so many of us fail to put in the time to care for ourselves and refill our own cups? (In no particular order)
1. Mom guilt
Sometimes we don’t take for ourselves because we feel guilty about it. Hello mom guilt, striking again.
Mom guilt is a pesky sense of guilt that moms often get. However, it’s almost always unnecessary and does nothing but hold us back from living our lives fully.
When it comes to self care, many a mom has skipped that crucial time, instead favoring sacrifice to an unnecessary and unhealthy degree.
It’s just too easy to feel like we should be doing something else. Maybe we think we ought to be cleaning, or spending more time with our family (even though we literally spent the entire day with them and caring for them).
Often self care gets neglected simply because we feel like we should be doing something else. And this frequently comes down to not giving ourselves the value we deserve.
How many of us have finally gotten some free time, only to end up zoning out on the couch or scrolling mindlessly through social media? I’m betting you have, at least once.
Too often, self care is a rare commodity, especially for a new mom. And when that time finally comes, the exhaustion takes over and the time is wasted.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely wasted free time by simply being too tired to decide what to do.
If you find yourself in this boat, your best form of self care may be to simply go to bed. Don’t let exhaustion destroy you. Take a nap, go to bed early—whatever it takes. And don’t be afraid to enlist help to make it happen!
Another common problem for moms is busyness. Don’t confuse this with productivity—it’s not the same.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture that values busyness, even though it’s not actually beneficial to us or our families.
We fill our days and schedules with every imaginable activity, leaving no white space. Eventually, this begins to chip away—or devour whole—at our available time to practice self care.
While it may not seem like a big deal initially, the lack of self care will eventually leave a mom worn out and wrung dry.
Don’t let yourself fall into the false thinking that being constantly busy is a good thing. Allow yourself to have time to slow down and unwind.
4. Lack of intention
I probably should have started with this one, because most other things end up falling under it.
A mom often skips out on self care simply because of a lack of intention. Mama, you have to be intentional with your time and actions.
Carve out intentional time to care for yourself. Find time to do the things that breathe life back into you. Don’t leave it up to chance.
Life is incredibly busy, and it’s easy to get sucked into filling up the calendar and leaving nothing left for ourselves. Set the mom guilt aside and make intentional time for you.
The reality of self care and sacrifice as a mom
Of course, there is another side to this coin. Perhaps the side we tend to spend a little too much time on, but an important side nonetheless.
The reality is that sometimes as a mom, we just have choose to sacrifice our self care time in favor of caring for our family.
As much as we may wish it to be so, motherhood is not a perfect world. Sometimes loving and caring for our families requires us to set out own needs and desires aside in order to be there for them.
It’s not a bad thing, necessarily. Motherhood requires us to learn to act selflessly and love with a depth we didn’t know was possible.
Sometimes that means giving up our sleep to care for a sick child. Other times it means having no time for ourselves for a day or two in order to catch up with all our responsibilities.
This is something that is often overlooked in the self care conversation. For as much as self care is pushed, the reality that sometimes we’re called to sacrifice it for a short time is often ignored.
Here’s the thing though, too often moms tend to go to one extreme or the other. Either it’s all self care while neglecting responsibilities, or it’s all sacrifice with no time for meeting your needs.
Neither is healthy, and neither will be fulfilling in motherhood.
Without some level of sacrifice, we miss out on the all important opportunity to learn to love selflessly. And without regular time to practice self care, we inevitably become frustrated, bitter, and burnt out.
For that reason, we need to learn to balance the two.
How to balance self care and sacrifice as a mom
It’s not easy to balance sacrificing for the sake of our families and still finding time to meet our needs.
For most of us, learning to balance the two will take time and intentional effort. It’ll be a lifelong journey of learning when to choose selfless sacrifice, and when to take care of yourself in order to be more available to those you love.
Make self care a priority
First, you need to make self care a priority.
I think most of us tend to err on the side of too much sacrificing to the point of our detriment. We neglect caring for ourselves in favor of pretty much everything else.
However, when we fail to make self care a priority, we end up sacrificing to the point of frustration and burn out. And sacrificing with a bitter attitude is not something to strive for.
Sacrificing with a crap attitude (even if it’s hidden in your heart) is not selfless. It’s just you being miserable and going through the motions.
True sacrifice is made willingly, with a selfless and loving heart.
I can tell you right now that if you aren’t making time for yourself a priority, you’re almost certainly going to fall into a victim mentally and sacrifice things merely because you think it’s what you’re supposed to do.
Instead of falling into this trap, make a point to schedule in time for self care. As a mom, you need this time to recharge so that you can give the best of yourself.
Understand there will be days that require more sacrifice
While I absolutely think you need to make self care a priority, it’s also important to recognize that there will be times when it just won’t happen.
There will be days where you will need to willingly sacrifice that time in order to serve your family.
The key here to not completely neglect self care time. It can’t always be the thing that gets sacrificed, or you’ll soon find yourself with an empty cup and nothing to give.
But there will be days that you don’t get time to yourself. There will be days you’ll need to skip your “you” time in favor of being there for your kids or spouse.
Recognize those days will be there, and choose to willingly give them. Know that these times will be short, even when they feel incredibly long.
Learn what refills your cup — and do it!
I think as a new mom, most of us struggle to practice self care. Self care often looks quite a bit different that it did in our pre-mom days.
Our natural instinct to sacrifice for our children can easily go a bit overboard in these early days.
The thing is, even though sacrificing for others is a good thing, left on it’s own it will drain us dry.
You have to learn to balance that out with activities and time that will refill your own cup and breathe life back into you.
Many of us drop our old hobbies when we become moms. While it’s often necessary in the newborn stage (hello, sacrifice), we also tend to fail to find new ones once life begins to take on some rhythm.
It may take some time and experimenting, but figure out what refills your cup. Find things that breathe life back into you. Even if they are simple things, they are necessary.
And once you’ve figured out what does that for you, make it a priority to do it regularly!
How do you balance self care and sacrifice?
What about you, mama? Do you have the balance between self care and sacrifice down, or is this something you struggle with as well?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below!