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A Simple Self-Care Contract for Mothers

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indulge-300x300Being a mother to a tween and a teen is a lot different than being a mother to a baby and a toddler. So much about my everyday life has changed since the baby daze days. The structure of my day, the routines, the demands, the expectations, the workload, and even my energy level are all very different. Even still there are some things about motherhood that never change. Moms need to take care of themselves. Trite but true, self-care should be at the top of our to-do lists. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. I know this first-hand because although I don’t have a lot of regrets in my life, the one thing I can say when looking back at the early days with my children was that I do regret not putting my own well-being on the list much at all, let alone the top of it! I still struggle with considering self-care as an imperative part of motherhood even though I know it to be true. The less you put into you, the less you can give to others, namely your children. Chronic deprivation of our most fundamental needs (sleep, nourishment, breathing for examples) is cause for alarm and still, we as mothers often put ourselves last on the list.

I have been working towards a more healthy balance between taking care of my family and taking care of myself but I’m far from where I want to be. It’s gotten me thinking about dream scenarios and perfect worlds and how, if how I could go back and do it all again, I wish someone would have made me sign a Self-Care Contract that included some of the following:

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  • Get more help 1 of 10
    Get more help
    I must admit, this point is my biggest motherhood regret. I just didn't ask for or get the help I needed to take care of my babies. In hindsight, I would have called in "the village" more frequently instead of insisting that I could do it all, all the time. Clearly, that wasn't (and isn't) the case.
  • Get regular massages 2 of 10
    Get regular massages
    With so much being need from you, day and night, quite often the only touching being done is because someone wants or needs something for you. Getting a massage means you're getting touched or rubbed with only one end result; to relax and refresh both your body and mind. It's worth every penny.
  • Sleep more 3 of 10
    Sleep more
    Even when you've got more to do than time allows, the more you sleep the better you feel. Period. Sleep, for a new mom especially, is the only thing that makes things better.
  • Indulge 4 of 10
    Indulge
    Don't deprive yourself of the things you love. In fact, being a mom makes it that much more important to value yourself and value the things you love. If it's chocolate chip ice cream, have a bowl. Even if no one else likes blue cheese crumbles on their salad, you can take your own stash to the table and sprinkle at will! You're the only one who knows what you really need, you owe it to yourself to give it to you.
  • Find a creative outlet 5 of 10
    Find a creative outlet
    Creativity is highly underrated in the realm of mothers. Anything that might be construed as frivolous or dare I say, selfish can easily be eliminated from our routine. We're so afraid someone might think we're not putting our family first that we deny ourselves the most simple of joys. From gardening to photography to cooking to scrapbooking, the creative things we enjoy doing are essential to our daily life and well-being. Don't underestimate the power of creativity!
  • Change your scenery 6 of 10
    Change your scenery
    Sometimes a well-needed shift of perspective can be as simple as going outside. We tend to coop ourselves up in the house with our kids, especially when they're babies, but fresh air and the wide open sky can get us to breathe deeper, feel more energized and remind us of how tiny we really are and how grand the world is. Perspective makes a big difference.
  • Spend time alone 7 of 10
    Spend time alone
    Whether you go out for a smoothie or a Starbucks, take a walk on the beach or go to a movie all by yourself, being alone sometimes can be a mother's best defense. And if you can, try to arrange for some alone time in your own home. Being home alone can be more exhilarating than you ever remembered! Just try not to use that time doing chores.
  • Find a babysitter (for real!) 8 of 10
    Find a babysitter (for real!)
    Unlike in the old days when I was a kid, babysitters these days seem to be out of jobs! When my girls were really young, none of the stay at home or work at home mothers had babysitters, including myself. It seems not having childcare has become more of the norm than having childcare which might feel like a blessing at times can also make for overworked, overextended moms.
  • Get pampered 9 of 10
    Get pampered
    Although getting a massage can fall under the pampering category, pampering means different things to different moms. Perhaps it's a pedicure that makes you feel pampered; or a haircut and color, or a meal out, or an overnight stay, or even just a bath. Whatever the case, you spend your days and nights pampering your family, you need some of that for you. Just do it.
  • Check out (with no guilt) 10 of 10
    Check out (with no guilt)
    I remember a time when watching TV made me feel guilty. I'm glad I got over that. Whether it's watching your favorite show, reading your favorite book, or browsing Pinterest, the idea of leaving your life behind for a while, even if only in your own mind is a perfect way to refresh.

The best part about a “contract” like this is that when you break it, you just start again the next day. This taking better care of ourselves is a process, a practice and no matter how far off the beam you’ve allowed yourself to go in regards to self-care, you can always pick up where you left off. It’s something I’m taking to heart. It’s a brand new year after all and since my chosen theme for the New Year is evolution, I know it’s the perfect time to begin and to continue to evolve into the mother that takes better care of herself. Won’t you join me? Take one thing from the list right now and take the steps to do it; for you and for your family.

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