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As moms, we master the ability to run on fumes.
Swigging cold coffee and taking five-minute showers is basically how moms keep going. The level of exhaustion that comes with being a mother surpasses any type of tired I personally have ever felt in my lifetime. I am damn tired!
Learning to juggle regular adult priorities while being a working mother of a wild child—who is currently going through her fantastic fives—is hard as hell. I have a list full of things that I need to get done with absolutely no time to do them. I can’t even answer a phone call without someone interrupting. Whether it’s a co-worker, my child, family and friends, or basic home maintenance, I feel as if I keep handing out parts of myself. By the end of the day, I am depleted.
So, how much of yourself are you handing out to everyone else? When was the last time you took a break? When did you last shrug off the dirty dishes in the sink, pour yourself a glass of wine, and just sit around? When was the last time you rolled out the yoga mat, took a long walk, or dipped into a bubble bath? When was the last time you took a real nap?
You’re constantly emptying out your tank, but are you refilling it? Think of how much better you are as a mom, colleague, partner, or friend after you have taken care of yourself. In order to be selfless and continue to give, you have to be a little selfish.
If you have ever traveled on a plane, I am sure you are familiar with the process before takeoff where they go over the procedures you need to follow in case of an emergency. So, why do they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first before you help anyone else? That is because you are basically useless to others if you don’t have enough oxygen to sustain yourself. Do you see where I am going with this?
For me, self-care is an important tool to help me manage my anxiety. After becoming a parent, however, it became my child first—me last. I struggled to find time to do mundane things like comb my hair and shower, let alone treat myself to any form of extreme self-maintenance.
Any hobbies that I enjoyed before I became a parent fell by the waist side. After becoming a single mom, finding time to do anything other than being a mom, colleague, head of household, and personal assistant took extra energy and time that I just did not have.
The truth, however, is that this thought process doesn’t help the people who need me. My daughter gets a worn out, angry mom. My colleagues get an unproductive, tired worker. By refusing to place the oxygen mask on myself, I become useless.
We think that taking care of ourselves is not as important as what we consider to be our most important priorities—our kids, job, family members, and so on. We may even think it’s selfish to need a break.
Yes, our schedules are jam-packed, our kids require most of our attention, and our job pays the bills. What we don’t understand, though, is that we can’t focus on these things when we are burned out or stretched thin. Our priorities are important, but so is our health and our mental wellness.
The reality is the time we make for ourselves is extremely important. When we recharge and refill our tanks, we are more productive, more patient, and we are fully present for whomever or whatever needs our attention or energy.
Self-care is self-explanatory. It’s how you care for yourself, and it is important. You play an important role in your family, your job, and in your life. We all experience stress and complications that can weigh us down, immobilize us, deter us from being our best self. Taking time to rejuvenate yourself is not selfish.
There is no one definition of self-care. We all have different outlets we utilize to refuel ourselves. How you choose to take time for yourself is all about you—hence the word self.
It’s time to make yourself a priority. No more excuses, no more mom-guilt, no more overextending yourself. Show up for yourself so that you can continue to show up for everyone else. Put your oxygen mask on and take a few deep breaths.