Self-Care. These two little hyphenated words changed my life in the most beautiful way. I’m sure I’d skimmed an article in the past about self-care, maybe I’d even heard people around me discuss it, but it never really meant anything to me until I hit that point where heart raising, dish smashing (ok this was just a fantasy, but one I had a lot), yelling, screaming stress was becoming a reality. I was hurting, angry, overwhelmed, and tapped out. This left me asking “Who is this version of myself? How did I become this person who feels borderline insane and hot tempered so often?”
With the help of a wonderful therapist, I realized I wasn’t caring for myself at all. I was giving, giving, giving, but leaving very little time for what I needed. Even my “fun” activities were full of obligation and stress. In my sessions, I learned that this little thing called self-care was going to be a real game changer. I also learned that it can look extremely different for each person. For me, it’s finding time to read, to be creative, to cook, and finding time for low-key evenings with my husband and a friend or two. When I ensure that those activities are a regular part of my life—even in short bursts of time—I feel much more able to handle the stress that I face each day. I am much calmer and less likely to fantasize about smashing my dishes—rather than just washing them.
I reached out to several women to ask about their self-care practices, and their responses are below. I was faced with various reactions from: “I’m realizing I’m not great at self-care” to “I’m the last person you want to ask about self-care right now” as well as responses full of great ideas. My hope is that if any other women are struggling to take that time for themselves that they’ll see through the distinct voices of regular, non-celebrity women (who don’t have a 24/7 nanny!) and identify some ideas for self-care that they too can practice. It’s a process and a time of experimentation, but for me? It’s meant my home is much happier, the stress level is lower, and I’ve been able to remember that I too deserve time so that I can accomplish the many roles of wife, mother, employee, creative person, etc in the way the “real” Sarah wants to do.
Ashley — 30 years old, Mom to Aubrey (3) & Brynn (2) Since becoming a Mom, I’ve discovered running and it’s given me much more than a healthy heart and strong legs. It’s my “self-care”, it’s my freedom, refresher, stress reliever, calm, focus, sense of accomplishment and gives me goals to work towards. It gives me time to process my days, work through emotions or just relax. (Yes, strangely I find running relaxing!) It’s an empowering platform to be the best version of myself for my husband and children—because they are everything, and you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Kim — 41, Mom to Kaiser (10) and Charley (8) Self-care is certainly a recent choice for me. I have been practicing yoga more than ever and it has made me a better Mom. I have been going to Hot Yoga Plus as religiously as I possibly can. This is one hour a day that I get to focus on me. Okay, well I get to focus on breathing and not falling and sucking in while letting go. It is glorious! I have also been spending more time going on friend dates. Laughing with the ladies that have seen me through thick and thin is wonderful. There was a time when all of these things seemed impossible and selfish, but I now know that they are all an important part of being a healthy Mom.
Jenna — 32, Mom to Greenlee, Porter, Ezra, and Corbett. (4 kids under 5!) The biggest thing I do to practice self-care is to make time first thing in the morning to go to the gym. I found a YMCA with a wonderful children’s program, so not only does it benefit me, but it benefits my kids (and they love going). I feel confident knowing my kids are in competent and caring hands while I am working out. Exercise keeps me sane, helps me feel good about myself, and is something I’ve enjoyed my whole life. I spend about an hour exercising and then about 30 minutes in the lobby just relaxing, reading, drinking coffee, etc. When it is time to pick up the kids, I feel refreshed and ready to take on the rest of our afternoon. My kids leave happy because they have gotten their energy out, played with their friends, and have had FUN! It’s a win/win for everyone.
Jodi — 40, mom to Anna and Michael. I have a hard time with self-care. I very much enjoy and know I need time with my girlfriends, so I joined a book club so that I could schedule that much-needed time with friends. I don’t do well with unplanned downtime, so if I schedule something I don’t feel as guilty. I love a good cup of tea or a glass of wine and a magazine. I try to carve out time on the weekend for that—even if it’s only 20 minutes.
Chelsea — 22, Mom to Mason (2) and Addilyn (newborn). I make sure I do a full face wash routine every day. Eyebrows, exfoliate, face mask, wash. That makes me feel more put together than just having my hair and nails done. I also journal and listen to podcasts every day.
Christel — 35, Mom to Makayla(13), Sara(10) and Lilly(5). I take care of myself lately by taking time to read or take a hot bath. These two things were greatly missed when my kids were tiny. I felt guilty if I snuck away for some quiet time to read or take a bubble bath. They always needed my time and attention in some way. Now that they are older, I don’t feel guilty at all. I feel that it’s important for them to understand that mom needs some space sometimes too—and that’s okay.
Luana — 41 Mom to Jake (6) and Lauren (3). Self-care, for me, involves staying awake one hour after the kids go to bed to watch a television show, read, or have uninterrupted conversations with good friends. I also try to buy myself a little something once a month. I went years after I had kids without buying myself anything. I don’t buy anything extravagant, but a pair of shoes or a blouse once in a while makes me feel nice. Ridding myself of the guilt that used to come with doing something for myself is an important part of self-care for me. I try to get together with friends every 1-2 months. My friendships are important to me, and being able to maintain them makes me a happier person and a better mom.
Catherine — Age 34, Mom to Nora (3) and Wes (1), I practice 5 minutes of deep breathing every morning and yoga most mornings. If I don’t do it in the morning, it doesn’t happen!