I believe that self-care for moms is one of the most important skills we can learn as mothers. It’s true. I know that learning to practice self-care made me a better mom. Why? Because self-care makes you more patient, loving, and kind. It takes any resentment or anger you might have and evaporates it. The takeaway: you need to learn to practice self-care stat!
The 5 Magical Benefits of Self-Care
Back when I had my first baby, she was colic and I was suffering from PPD. My daughter cried all the time and I could barely take it because my nerves were in complete shambles. I remember losing my patience with her one day which left me so disgusted with myself. I knew it wasn’t her fault for crying, but I just didn’t have any strength to draw from to keep my patience.
That night, my husband told me to go out and have time to myself, but I was so upset, I couldn’t do anything fun. I will never forget sitting in the dark Walgreens parking lot while rain poured down on my windshield. I was sobbing and praying, “I just want to be a good mom, please help me be a good mom.”
That night was a turning point for me, when I decided I had hit bottom and there was no way but up. I decided that I needed to take some “time outs” for myself so that I could stay calmer, even during my baby’s marathon crying sessions. So, I started resting more when I could. I stopped getting things done when I had a few minutes and I just did what I needed to do for myself. In my mind, this was an emergency situation and I needed to do everything I could to stay patient.
These days, I count self-care (especially sleep—I know that I need at least 7 hours of sleep a night) as the main reason why I’m patient with my kids. And, on a day when my son threw his bottle in the toilet (which, of course hadn’t been flushed) and my daughter spilled rice all over my kitchen floor, I was able to keep my cool.
Speaking of keeping cool, self-care helps you to be a calmer mother, too. Now, you might be saying, what’s the difference between being patient and being calm? I think being patient is situational, meaning, when my daughter takes an extra 15 minutes during bedtime to put her LOL dolls to sleep inside of sock “sleeping bags” (which is super-cute, but maybe not at 8:30 at night), I can stay calm in the situation and not freak out.
Being calm in general is different because it’s more of an aura that you project, a feeling that extends to your kids and your household. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Mommy sets the tone in the house. Whatever you are feeling creates the dominant feeling in the house. Therefore, when you are calm most of the time, your kids are calmer. More importantly, they will feel better if you feel better. When mama’s happy, everyone’s happy.
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In the words of the great RuPaul: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
I think truer words have never been spoken. It makes sense, doesn’t it? How can we give something that we don’t have? If you feel like you struggle with loving yourself, (and believe me, mama, I have) self-care is the best way to get there.
Giving to yourself, just as you would give to a loved one, is the best way to show love to yourself. Think about how you would treat a friend or a family member. If she were feeling down in the dumps, what would you do for her to cheer her up? Got an idea? Good. Now, do exactly that for yourself, because you need to learn how to be your own best friend.
When we can show ourselves little bits of love each and every day, we have more love inside of ourselves to give to others. Even if we have a super-long to-do list, this little truth should give us the ultimate validation for taking time out for ourselves: it allows us to love our children even more. And, isn’t that the greatest gift we can give our children?
That being said, self-care is an act of kindness done unto yourself. It’s a very similar principal to love. If we’re not kind to ourselves, it’s pretty difficult to be kind to others. With the culture of our world being what it is today, I’m sure we all want to teach our children how to be kind. In fact, teaching kindness has become part of the curriculum at many elementary schools around the country.
So, shouldn’t we be teaching kindness at home? And what better way can we teach this than modeling that behavior for our kids? It’s the old expression, children learn what they live. Show them how you are being kind to yourself and you show them how to be kind. Be kinder to yourself and you will be kinder to all others. You are your children’s first and greatest teachers and–to throw in another old, but true saying–it’s not what you say it’s what you do that teaches your children.
Here’s where being kind to yourself matters internally: if you are kind to yourself, it starts to chip away at the inner critic in your head. You know who I’m talking about, right? That horrible guy that tells you you’re not doing a good job, that you could be a better mom, that you should be doing more. Ever notice that guy has nothing nice to say?
Well, the best way to silence that guy is to do kind things for yourself. When you do and you hear him less and less, you’re free to have more positive thoughts, thoughts like, “I did a good job today.” We all do the best that we can every single day as moms, but sometimes it’s hard to see it because of that inner critic inside our heads. So, if we can silence him, we’re free to feel good about ourselves. We are good moms. It’s about darn time we started to feel that way!