Mama, your needs matter too.
Every mom knows the school-day scramble is a challenge. The morning has just begun, and there are already missing shoes, unpacked lunches and someone with another dirty diaper (even though you just changed him 10 minutes ago)! You rush through the motions, getting belongings packed up, everyone dressed presentably and then strapped in their car seats securely. When you finally slide into the driver’s seat, you realize not only are you still in your pajama pants and slippers, but your hair is uncombed and your patience has worn thin.
This is an all-too-familiar scene in the stay-at-home mom’s life – where everyone else’s needs come first.
Sure, you might not be expected at an office where your current presentation would be frowned upon, but you aren’t exactly putting your “best foot forward” either. You find yourself questioning, “What happened to caring about me and the way I look?”
You’re Not Alone
With three kids, a diabetic toddler and my newly-gained stay-at-home mom status, I found that I had completely surrendered my own identity to my children’s every need. It didn’t matter if I left home with a messy bun and slippers, because who did I have to prove myself to?
When I had spent half the night treating my toddler’s low blood sugar, I certainly didn’t feel as though I owed anyone an explanation for my appearance. Still, when I discovered that I had not showered in three days, was mainly surviving on caffeine and my face had not seen makeup in weeks, I accepted it was time to take a hard look in the mirror.
I was depressed, overweight, and determined to take back me. Here are four small changes that helped me discover my sense of self again — and you can, too.
1. Mama, you matter
While part of motherhood is ensuring that your children’s needs are fulfilled, you, as an individual, are equally as important and deserving of self-love. Whatever the reason, some of us moms tend to resign ourselves to the idea that we are just that – moms — and our wants and needs simply have to wait. Maybe you did wake up on time or even a little earlier to set aside some quality “me” time, but your plans quickly fell apart when mom was inevitably needed to clock in for duty. Remember that your needs are important, too — and it doesn’t make you a bad mom if you take a few minutes to yourself to find the right outfit, style your hair, and put on makeup for the day.
2. Take a step back
Evaluate yourself. When is the last time you showered, shaved, put on makeup, or made an effort to wear anything besides yoga pants? When did you last treat yourself to a spa day or get your hair or nails done? Have you taken a walk by yourself recently, or simply did something that was solely for you?
Set aside time to reflect on when you last “did you” and then take it a step further and schedule some self-care moments to look forward to.
3. Make a promise to yourself
Let’s say you do have some self-care plans written in the books. How often do you actually follow through with them?
Once you have identified an activity that you miss doing, whether it’s walking out the door with blow-dried hair or being pampered with a pedicure, now is the time to reincorporate it into your life. This might mean finding a babysitter, or going out when your partner gets home from work or after the kids have gone to bed for the evening.
For me, this was going to the gym, getting a good workout in, and rewarding myself with 10 uninterrupted minutes in the steam room. If I wasn’t feeling up to a full cardio class, I could simply walk on the treadmill and catch up on my favorite TV show (“This Is Us”). I soon realized the gym offered a program where they would watch my kids while I worked out. They even accepted my diabetic toddler, as long as I could monitor him and intervene when necessary.
The act of carving out an hour or two every few days for myself was a huge step for me, and it helped me to regain a sense of inner peace. Whatever you deeply miss doing or crave getting back into – make a promise to yourself to get out there and do it. And promise yourself you are going to create time for it, and stick with it. You are worth it.
4. Stay consistent
Consistency is key. Don’t just get your hair done once or attend one fitness class. Keep at it! It is temptingly easy to slip into old patterns and find yourself being swallowed by everyday tasks and constant errands. You can be a doting mom and caring person while still remembering and honoring your own individuality.
Although it’s not a thought I like to accept, the truth is that the day will come when my kids will be grown. Life will revert back to me and my husband, and my days will no longer revolve around feeding, bathing, dressing, entertaining and caring for my kids. And then what happens?
It is imperative for us moms to reclaim who we are now, so when that day does come, we aren’t left trying to remember our past selves. Remind yourself daily that YOU are important. Love yourself for both the mother that you are and the strong, extraordinary person that you have become.