Picture a cup, overflowing with water. Plentiful, satisfying, filled to the brim.
But you take that cup, pick it up, and pour some of the water into a smaller cup.
You pick it up again and pour some into a medium sized cup.
You pick it up and pour a good portion into a larger cup.
Your cup is almost empty. But there’s still a little left.
Enough left to pour the last bit into that smaller cup once more.
Your cup is now empty. Nothing left to pour out. Waiting to be filled up again.
That cup, my friend, is you. That cup is motherhood. You pour out and pour out, neglecting to realize the need to be filled back up. You wait until the cup is fully drained to seek out filling it up, rather than regularly identifying ways to keep it above empty. This tendency to push forward until you’re running on fumes is exactly why Self-Care is so important. As mothers, we are valuable humans and our needs are worthy of being met. And the bonus to all of this is that when we seek out ways to care for ourselves, we have more to pour out which makes us better moms, better wives / partners, better humans.
So as you begin to break free from the “mom-guilt” that prevents you from prioritizing your needs, here are 3 simple steps to help you out along the way.
1. Be Creative in Defining Self-Care
Typically when we think of Self-Care, we think pedicures, massages, a girl’s night out – those things we do once in a blue moon to pamper ourselves. Those things are wonderful – seize every opportunity to enjoy them! But truthfully, Self-Care does not need to be as elaborate (or expensive). Self-Care can mean going out on the swing in the backyard after the kids are in bed to read a book and enjoy the quiet. Self-Care can mean going for a run in the morning to clear your head. Self-Care can mean calling a friend to vent. The important part of Self-Care is that it meets your specific emotional needs. Think of it like a bank account. What are small things you can do on a regular basis that would be deemed a “deposit” into that bank account? Painting? Yoga? Solo dance parties? Do those things and do them often. Because I have no doubt that if we looked into your emotional bank account, there would be far more withdrawals than deposits which equates to going into the red. That is when we get irritable, we get overwhelmed, we get snippy, or we want to give up. And that is where Postpartum Depression can thrive.
2. Carve Out Time for Self-Care
Self-Care will not magically happen. Even with the best of intentions it won’t happen. How many times have we planned to have some “me-time” during nap times. And how many times has that not gone according to plan? Either the kids don’t nap that day or you look at the stack of laundry and decide that takes precedence. For Self-Care to truly happen regularly, you must be intentional about it. It may require getting a babysitter. It may require telling your husband you’re going upstairs to take a 30 minute breather while he plays with the kiddos. Or it may mean waking up a bit earlier to have some alone time before the chaos ensues. I’ve heard it said that we make time for what’s important for us. So the more you are able to value your own-self care, the more likely you will be to incorporate it into your routine.
3. Give Yourself Permission to Enjoy Self-Care
Can you guess one of the top hindrances to Self-Care? (Other than time, of course). Guilt.
That voice in your head that tells you it’s wrong to leave the kids at home with a babysitter while you enjoy a night out. The voice that tells you your needs don’t matter as much as everyone else’s. That voice that tells you Self-Care is selfish.
I am here to tell you that that voice is wrong. It’s wrong because one of the most beautiful aspects of Self-Care is that it fills your cup enough to be able to pour out into others all the more. When your needs are being met, you are more capable of meeting the needs of others. But when your needs are not being met, you are running on empty – exhausted, overwhelmed, overworked, over it. So when you make these attempts to prioritize and meet your own needs, know that Guilt will quickly rear its ugly head and tell you it’s not okay. But repeat this phrase over and over again until that voice of Guilt quiets down:
“Self-Care is okay. Self-Care is good. Self-Care is necessary. Self-Care makes me a better mom.