Being a mom means putting the needs of others before myself. From the moment Josie wakes up my whole world revolves around her. I find when I do have “breaks” I spend them frantically trying to accomplish something. Dishes, laundry, brush my teeth! Before I know it the nap is over or my husband has to get back to work. Last month I was chatting with my therapist and discussing how quarantine has felt like those first days (months) of motherhood. The isolation, the slowed down pace, and the time to think. She asked me what I do for myself during the day. As I thought of my answer I realized how little I actually do for myself and how easy it is to forget about your own needs.
As we chatted she started giving me suggestions on how to ensure that every day I get to take a step back from motherhood and do something I want to do, not something I need to do. As any mom knows, finding that time is difficult, but it is possible. You just have to make yourself a priority.
- Find the right time of day.
I know by the end of the day I have nothing left. It isn’t fair for me to dedicate my time to after bedtime because I know I have no energy. The best time of day for me is before everyone wakes up. Waking up an hour plus before everyone else in the house gives me peace. It allows me to start on some work for the day, get a workout in, enjoy a cup of coffee, and actually get myself ready without a toddler wanting to get into everything in my bathroom.
2. Don’t use breaks in the day to complete housework.
Josie will nap about an average of two hours. I was finding that I was putting her down and jumping right into housework and then before I knew it she was awake. I may have accomplished folding laundry, vacuuming, or emptying the dishwasher but I never took the time to focus on me. I have made that first hour of her nap me time. Whether it is napping myself, doing a face mask, exercising, or reading, I am at least spending part of her nap time doing something that makes me feel good, and if her nap is cut short I sacrificed the house work, not the me time.
3. Find the things you like to do versus what you need to do!
I like to write (hence the blog), I also enjoy reading and knitting. I try to use the “me” time to do one of those three things. I try to not go down the rabbit hole of scrolling social media because before I know it I have wasted too much time.
4. Focus on (and invest in) your health!
In addition to incorporating daily yoga and some pre-natal workouts, my therapist suggested I try the headspace app (a wellness and mediation app) and commit to using it once a day. I will admit, I have tried meditation in the past and I never stick with it. Like any skill, you need to be consistently using it in order for it to become habitual and for you to master it. I started the free two-week trial and was certain I would cancel before the $70 a year bill kicked in, because *gasp* how could I spend that much money on it. But I ended up loving it. The thing I love the most about headspace is how small you can start. I am still doing the three minute meditations every day over a month in, but this is what is working for me. I am working on consistency and quality. I am working on making meditation a habit. And the cost? What is funny to me is that I have no problem spending that money on a meal out or even a round of drinks (pre-covid, pre-pregnancy) but when it comes time to invest in something that may help me I was hesitant and resistant to pay the money (can anyone else relate?) Yes in terms of an app, it certainly is pricey, however I am finding it is the coaching I need to become someone who can start to master meditation, and it is working!
5. Be kind to yourself.
Maybe you missed the workout because you slept in (you needed it), maybe the laundry is piling up (you’ll get to it). Be easy on you! You will have superhero days where you get it all done and you will have human days where something has to be sacrificed. What I have learned through motherhood is that you can’t give if you don’t give to yourself. You are more important then some clean clothes sitting in the dryer and your health and well being should always be prioritized (easier said than done, I know). We cannot pour from an empty cup. Find times daily to fill that cup.