When you Google “self-care for moms” the first results are usually ads for products to buy. Wellness journals, beauty products, care kits and top selling books. I, for one, love a good natural beauty product. So I’m not criticizing those products when I say this, but the entire concept of “self-care” has become a selling point for marketers, companies and advertisers.
An idea we have to buy. Another item on our already long to-do lists. There’s certainly nothing wrong with scheduling a day at the spa if it’s within your means or indulging in chocolate, wine and a hot bath, but self-care isn’t a product you can buy or even an item you can cross off your to-do list.
As a working student and momma of two small children who lives with chronic health issues, I struggle with our culture’s definition of self-care because it is still so unattainable for the part of society that needs it most. When necessary and essential functions of life such as sleep, nutrition, alone time, exercise or even showering are sold to us as a luxury, then there’s a problem.
As a young mom in a busy and chaotic season of life, I can’t apply self-care like a Band-Aid to problems like burnout and exhaustion. Burnout and exhaustion are such big problems for so many moms because the current idea of self-care isn’t sustainable.
The current idea of self-care isn’t sustainable.
As human beings, women and mothers we are whole people. Not just bodies, but also minds, souls and spirits. The ways we feel cared for are as diverse and unique as we are.
So momma, have you checked in with yourself lately? What’s an essential part of your life or self that’s gone un-nourished in this season of motherhood?
The answer might feel like “everything.”
I’ll be honest. I often don’t check in with myself until I’m past the breaking point, but for me, creativity and learning is a big part of who I am and how I find joy. It is a part of “self-care” for me.
Maybe I watch a documentary while I’m folding laundry late one night instead of doing tasks for work or school. Maybe I sign up for a virtual workshop to try something creative or learn new skills. This is an aspect of soul care for me because it is caring for a true part of who I am that can easily be buried under the myriad of daily and weekly tasks that comes with the territory of motherhood. I’ve tried making time to read or write before bed if not on a nightly basis at least weekly basis.
Another essential aspect of self-care is rest. Rest can be physical, but it can also be mental, emotional and spiritual. A form of rest can even be play. After a third chronic illness diagnosis and lockdowns last spring, I started prioritizing physical activity every day. It was nothing fancy. There were no gym or workout videos. It was just me and our neighborhood. It was before or after dinner and, oftentimes, between work or school projects.
Rest can be physical, but it can also be mental, emotional and spiritual.
While it is movement for my body, it is rest for my mind. I schedule it around other activities that occur every day like dinner. I once read the best and easiest way to incorporate a new habit is to combine it with something else that is already a habit. For example, for me, this means laundry + documentary or dinner + walk.
How can you incorporate self-care practices as a part of your day-to-day rhythms? Can you grab a coffee while picking up the grocery order or maybe take a walk or listen to a podcast?
As a mom, I expect for my kids to have days when they are extra tired or frustrated or when listening and communicating is just extra hard. (I’m still working on the patience for these moments). But why don’t I expect the same for myself? Yes, I am an adult, but I am also human. I am a mom, which often requires superhuman feats. I’m working on extending the same grace to myself that I would extend to my children or a friend.
Maybe self-care means mothering myself. Mothers are nurturers, cheerleaders and caregivers. We care and grow everything in the very best way. Dear mama, my hope is that you and I will care for our souls and ourselves the same way we care for those we love.