As a mom, it’s automatic: you put your family before yourself. But, with life whizzing by faster than we can keep up, taking care of yourself shouldn’t be left off the to-do list. Self-care is important not just for you. A happy, healthy mom is a better mom. Here are a few promises you can make to yourself to practice self-care this year.
1. Pay attention to your health. Do you still remember the last time you had a really good night's sleep or when you actually said your shoulders were relaxed? You’re already doing more than enough to keep the kids healthy, so why not you? Keeping strong and healthy can increase your productivity and efficiency at both work and home. You’re also less likely to bring home diseases like the colds or flu.
If going to the gym has never made you achieve your weight loss goal, perhaps you need to reset your mindset. Instead of weight loss, how about looking at exercise to manage your mood swings instead? Dr. Mary Faith F. Angat, a fellow at the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, told Good Housekeeping Philippines, “Exercise increases our endorphins -- these are ‘happy chemicals’ that circle our brains to bring us joy.” She also advises limiting caffeine, drinking water, and even finding a hobby to keep the blues (a.k.a. stress, depression etc.) away.
2. Commit to me-time. We know it can be difficult with the long list of things a parent needs to get done in a day, but taking time off for yourself helps you be a better parent and partner. Think of me-time not as a being selfish but as a necessity, advises CEO and mom Lorna Borenstein on Huffington Post. Write it down on your calendar as a scheduled activity just like any other. Think “I deserve this.”
3. Shop for yourself. Yup, you read that right. Moms need to shop more for themselves this year, and we're not talking about grocery shopping (although, hey, if that gives you joy, let's count it in). Schedule a weekend to shop for yourself. To prove our point that you need it, a mom only needs to take a moment to assess the state of her underwear drawer. Panties and bras that have been through the ‘90s definitely need replacing. (Click here for our list of what we really need to throw out this 2017.)
4. Go on a technology diet. The benefits of keeping screen time and social media use to a minimal have been shown time and time again by studies. Just recently, a study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine linked heavy Facebook use to depression, reports Forbes. It’s not just for you, either. Another study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry found that phone-distracted parenting can actually hinder baby's brain development. And if you have an older child, a global survey of more than 6,000 participants revealed that kids feel unimportant when their parents spend too much time on their mobile phones.
Jim Steyer is an executive director of Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization whose recent research shows that parents spend just as much leisure time on their phones (sometimes even more) as their kids. Steyer advises that parents set their own rules regarding a healthy “technology diet” and stick to it. If you need a little help, here’s a simple hack that will subconsciously make you less keen to check on your phone so often.
5. Be kinder to yourself. Parenting is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, but it’s also one of the most challenging. Mistakes are inevitable. So cut yourself some slack, mom. A perfect parent doesn’t exist, and a perfect child doesn’t either. We’re all filled with flaws. The important thing is that we show our kids that we are able to love ourselves, flaws included, and that we strive to become better human beings even through simple ways – like listening a little more and spreading kindness.
You’re doing a great job, mom. The fact that you’re worried about “being a good parent” already shows that you’re doing something right. So, let go a little and let things be. Besides, our children need breathing room to blossom and grow on their own. “Overindulging, over-rewarding, or babying our children actually serves as a sort of pressure for greatness and a set up for disappointment,” says Dr. Lisa Firestone, clinical psychologist, and director of Research and Education for the Glendon Association, wrote in an article for Psychology Today. Remember, overparenting can backfire and lead to dependent and entitled kids. Trust that all the love, care and support you’re giving your family is more than enough.