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I don’t know about you, but I wish to be a better mom almost every.single.day.
It’s not that I don’t already try. And it’s not that I am a terrible mom either.
It’s just that on a lot of days, this whole parenting gig is totally beyond me.
It overwhelms me despite my best efforts and knowledge.
It makes me realize how little do I really know and what an enormous amount of patience is necessary to guide children through a day.
Everywhere I look I see tips and methods on how to make kids behave or listen, how to be more patient or spend more time with them.
There is absolutely a need for those kinds of tips. (heck, I even have posts on that!)
But when it comes down to it, there is only one weird thing we truly need to be better moms.
I say weird because we often overlook it and most people wouldn’t even associate the necessity of it with parenting.
It’s weird because at first, it may sound selfish.
It’s weird because you aren’t used to doing it and it may seem strange at first.
This one weird thing is taking time for yourself.
As in, having some mom-time, when you aren’t pulled in a million directions.
Some time to enjoy what you choose, not what others ask of you.
Some time to recharge and refocus, so you can come back and start anew.
When you hear about this one weird thing to help you become a better parent, don’t just dismiss it, thinking that you can’t possibly spend time on you.
You spend time on what’s important.
Maybe the problem is that you haven’t considered yourself important for quite some time.
I get it.
That used to be me. And that is still me on some days.
However, there came a point in my life where I had to realize that I am unable to do this mama life without breaks.
It is not weakness or selfishness.
It is not a luxury.
It is the lifeline of your parenting journey.
It is absolutely necessary in order for you to be able to give yourself up every single day and love, teach and guide your children entrusted to you.
I believe if we moms saw the impact some alone time means, we wouldn’t dare thinking about not doing it.
If you knew that some time alone would bring you home a more cheerful person and getting a fresh perspective would give you more strength in the daily mundane, wouldn’t you take advantage of it?
If not for yourself, do it for your children. They deserve the best of you.
It’s Not One And Done
Don’t think that having some quiet me-time once a month will make a big impact.
As my sister put it, when you are drowning, you need more than just a lifeboat coming by, picking you up for a little bit and then throwing you back in.
There is no way to stop drowning if you aren’t given proper help or tools to prevent drowning and being able to swim to shore.
And while it’s impossible to never feel like you’re drowning as a parent, it is possible to learn to prevent some of the catastrophes and be pro-active in handling the tough situations.
“Me time” does not have to be super long and expensive.
It just has to be consistent. That’s the key.
Whatever you do, have a regular schedule or plan to do it, otherwise, you will stop before you know it.
You will come up with reasons why you shouldn’t or can’t and soon you find yourself exhausted and drowning once again.
Knowing you have a reliable, planned-ahead time to relax and unwind will set your mind free.
You will start telling yourself that you can pull through in a tough situation because later you will get a break.
In the endless responsibilities of parenting, you will have a little light at the end of that long tunnel.
And when you take a break, you will feel better and will be ready to tackle life head on again.
It’s sort of a mental unload to know, that this will not last forever and there’s an end in sight. Even if it is just for a short while.
It’s not always alone time
Some days, it is impossible to get away for a decent amount of time and just be by yourself.
Even on those days, you can still take care of yourself.
The point is that you let your children know it is your time right now, teaching them that you need some downtime so you can be a kind mom.
It’s good modeling of self-care, something they will need themselves when they are grown.
You may only have 30 mins to drink some coffee and catch up on news. But you did it for yourself, for your enjoyment, because you matter too,
So let’s say you understand all this, and it sounds great but you still have a question.
And it’s a biggie.
Taking care of ourselves sounds complicated on a day when you feel like you have no more brain power left.
What on Earth are you even going to do for “me time”?
You may not feel like putting make-up on, or have a nursing baby and can’t be away for long periods of time.
Maybe you’re on a budget and don’t have money to spare for a pedicure or a dinner out.
Let me give you some ideas that work really well to give you some much needed alone time. I am sure you will be able to find something that suits you.
Ideas for how to take care of yourself as a mom
1. Take A Bubble Bath
Taking a bubble bath does not break the bank, but it can definitely change your whole outlook on life. Light a candle, throw in some delicious smelling bath bombs or just a cup of lavender Epsom salt, and relax.
I love listening to music or an online sermon from one of my favorite pastors. It leaves me encouraged and gets me out of my self-pity and thanklessness.
2. Read A Book
Every person is different, but to me, curling up with a book is very comforting. I stay away from fiction usually because I get way too involved in the imagined world of the book. (and then get grumpy when I have to stop)
But I love reading books that help me improve as a person or books that help me understand people better or biographies and inspiring stories that bring me beyond my small little situation in the here and now.
(I am a Christ follower, so most of what I read will reflect that in content.)
A few of my favorite books are:
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet by Sara Hagerty
Triggers by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake
Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas
Don’t think of it as some New Age-y thing or something only really boring people do.
Meditation is nothing else but taking yourself out of your current thought process and focus your mind and body on something else.
That “something else” can be several things (such as music, praying, relaxation, positive thoughts, breathing, etc), the point is that you STOP thinking and start relaxing your mind.
I have used the Calm App successfully, my favorite is the body scan. In it, you go through your body head to toe, just noticing all the sensations and by the end of the session you have had 10 minutes of mental break.
Do it consistently (every day) and soon you will notice the scientifically proven benefits of meditation.
4. Do Yoga
This sort of intertwines with meditation, as yoga encourages breathing and focusing on the particular pose you are doing.
While yoga is beneficial for mental health, it is also a great way to exercise your body.
Another reason why I mention yoga here is that yoga isn’t exhausting or discouraging in a way a lot of cardio exercises are.
When you’re already wore out or out of shape, you probably won’t feel like doing cardio unless you actually love cardio. (in which case, please know that you are sooo lucky and I am sooo envious)
Yoga is a nice way to ease back into exercising.
Yeah, the kids do crawl on top of me sometimes, so this is a prime example of taking care of myself despite them being around. If I waited for the perfect opportunity to exercise by myself it would never come. (Trust me, I know this)
If you love going to the gym and take a yoga class, by all means, go for that!
5. Go Out Alone
Now we are getting to the fun part. Actual outing? Yes, please.
This is definitely something I thoroughly enjoy doing and whenever my husband (or occasionally a babysitter) provides this time for me, I come back like a brand new person.
I have learned what activities relax and refresh me, and I purposefully choose to do those during my time alone.
For me, these are taking a walk, reading, coloring, listening to music or an uplifting sermon or podcast.
I love getting a treat as well or a special drink. (And nobody shares it!)
For others, this may look different, but there really isn’t a right or wrong way. Do what recharges and refreshes you.
This time is YOURS.
6. Go Out With a Friend
While I often guard my alone time like it’s a precious treasure, I do also enjoy going out with a good friend and share a meal and some much-needed adult conversation.
There’s nothing like truly being able to listen to each other, without interruption and half-finished sentences.
We cannot be great moms alone. We need a few friends to walk with us.
The longer I have been a mom, the more I realize that it takes a village to make it.
7. Take A Nap
When my third baby was tiny, I had a 10-year-old little girl come over twice a week for 2.5 hours.
She was super mature and responsible, so I knew she would keep my bigger kids safe. She gave them a snack, took them outside to the backyard or played with them inside.
When she got here, I said: “I am going to sleep now. Come in the room whenever you have an emergency or something important that can’t wait. See ya.”
Grabbed the baby and spent a couple hours cuddling and sleeping. She literally saved my life on some rough days.
And the best part? She “charged” two dollars an hour!
Enforcing a daily quiet time or establishing a Sunday afternoon siesta are also good ways to get some extra shut-eye.
When you are prioritizing taking care of yourself, you realize that the dirt and chores will always wait and always come back, no need to always rush to it first.
I am not promoting laziness or neglect. What I am saying is that taking a nap just might save your sanity and give you the extra strength to finish what you need to.
8. Do One Thing That Brings Out Your Talents
When you are in the trenches of motherhood, it is easy to forget that there are activities you do just purely because you are good at them and love them.
But what if for a little while you chose to do something you’re good at?
Starting a blog was that for me.
I needed a creative outlet, an accomplishment that makes me feel excited.
Not that raising my children doesn’t give me that because it does. But being a mother comes with a ton of sacrifices and the fruits of our labor are often long ways off from being seen.
Joining the Billionaire Blog Club has absolutely changed my blogging game and I have grown as a person and a blogger by leaps and bounds. (I highly recommend checking BBC out if you have ever considered starting a blog)
Maybe for you, it is baking pretty cakes or painting. Whatever it is, do one thing that makes you happy and brings out your creativity and talents.
9. Get A Pedicure Or A Massage
There’s something to be said about being pampered.
I always feel so good when somebody else takes care of me, for a change.
I used to think of these activities as a waste of money, because, well I can technically paint my own toenails at home.
Why spend the money?
I would never think twice about spending on my kids, but spending on luxuries for me? Won’t happen very often.
Then one day I decided that I matter too.
I enjoy the foot rub and the perfectly painted toenails instead of my homemade ones.
Plus, the massage chair. Enough said.
Going to a real massage is something I have yet to try, but I did receive a gift card from my husband to Massage Envy.
Now, to just make an actual time for (gasp) doing nothing for an hour. That’ll be the hard part.
10. Do Nothing
For some people, like myself, we actually have to plan on doing nothing.
There are so many goals to meet, so many needs to tend to and doing nothing seems sort of wrong.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I have realized that in this rushing world, we actually get more anxious and stressed because everybody is scared to just do nothing.
Even when there would be time for it, like waiting in line or at a doctor’s office, we take our phones out and entertain ourselves.
We have totally bought into the lie that we have to be doing something at all times and sitting in quiet isn’t beneficial.
When I first heard about mindfulness, it made total sense to me. My anxious mind has always been one to race way ahead of my body and time.
I have missed moments.
I have missed smiles and questions.
I have missed sounds and smells.
I have missed sights.
All because of thinking about the next thing and being afraid to just be.
The definition of mindfulness according to Mindful.org is this:
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
In other words, conscious awareness.
Notice what surrounds you, what’s happening and just be.
Whether it’s with a cup of warm drink in your hand or walking on the beach barefoot or sitting on a city bench with your eyes closed, it’s up to you.
The point is, be aware and do nothing for a few minutes…or more.
It may just change your life.
No matter how weird it seems, taking time to take care of yourself will make you a better parent.
Why not start implementing some of these ideas or coming up with your own?
I would love to hear your opinion and thoughts in the comments!
And if you liked this post, please share it, so other’s could start becoming better parents too!