Tag Archives: self-care

Why Five Minutes Makes Me a Better Parent

This article originally appeared on Perfection Pending.

It’s overwhelming, this whole motherhood thing. I think back to the days of answering only to myself, and doing things only when I felt like it… I don’t necessarily miss those days, but I’d give a large sum of money for a day or two like that every once in a while.

When I get up in the morning, it’s usually to the sounds of (at least) one of the kids. Often, it’s the jabbering of my youngest, playing happily in his crib, knowing I’ll come and get him soon. Those days are so nice. I can go to the bathroom, wash my face, and drink a little water before I start the diaper change and breakfast hustle. But other days, I hear stomping on the stairs, drawers opening and closing, or even cries of, “He hit me!” or something similar. As you can imagine, that’s not quite as pleasant at start. Some days just begin in a more relaxing way than others.

I find myself, on difficult days, craving a moment to myself. That could be almost any sort of moment… for instance, I love the grocery store. I could take a mile-long grocery list to the store, alone, ideally with a cappuccino, and it would be the perfect hour: super productive, not a waste of time, but relaxing, and also delicious if I ended up with that fancy drink. Just to have that bit of time to myself to regroup is my biggest desire in a hectic day. I suppose that’s how the memes about moms eating chocolate while locked in the bathroom are born. Boy, can I relate.

But actually taking the minute to myself doesn’t happen as much as needing it does. If I end up – for whatever reason – pushing through my need for a break, I’ll just end up back feeling crazed again in another half an hour. If I don’t take the moment I need to center myself, zap my coffee and take a big swig, or sit down and zone out for a minute or five. I’m so driven by productivity and “getting things done so that I can relax later” that I rarely let myself take a few minutes for myself before the to-do list is finished.

I do know one thing, though. I can prevent the feelings of stress and anxiety from getting worse (and sometimes break that cycle entirely, if I’m lucky) by taking that time I need for myself sooner. Need a breather? Take one. Need to just sit down for a few minutes? Do it. Need three minutes to calm your brain and scroll through Instagram? That’s just fine. There are very few things on my “list” that won’t still be there in five minutes – including the kids. A mental break is just as important as a physical one, but sometimes I can’t pull my brain out of the frenzy unless I pull my body out of it, too. Sometimes, I even leave the house… I step out to the back porch, or walk to get the mail. Sunshine and fresh air are an immediate shock to my system when it’s bogged down by detailed-oriented tasks and grabby hands that need me. The way my home is set up, the kids are usually in the room that leads to the porch, and it’s full of windows, so I’m not exactly leaving them unattended. But I’m getting out of the situation enough to hear birds instead of the arguing, or to see sun and trees instead of the pile of laundry I was about to get to. Sometimes, even sitting down with the kids and watching Octonauts is a break. It interrupts their cycle of crazy when I redirect them to something else, and it interrupts my cycle of “can’t slow my roll” when I get in there for a snuggle.

So, if you’re like me, sometimes (often?) wound up tightly, pushing yourself through those moments of anxiety or frustration in the sake of thinking you can handle it – or worse, for the sake of productivity – then give yourself a break. Take that minute, or 5, or 10 that you need. Do whatever you need to do to find the time, sooner rather than later, to let yourself unwind. Drink your coffee while it’s still hot. Sit down to chat or snuggle with your child before you get started on the dishes. Sneak that candy bar in the bathroom! There’s no shame in the game of saving your own sanity. You do something for you, mama, and don’t feel bad about it.

How I Find Time for ME (As a Mom of Young Children)

This post originally appeared on the Grit and Grace Project

Self-care is becoming a buzzword in our society. As we are able to work from home (read: anywhere), connect with hundreds of people are the touch of a button, and multitask like true professionals, we’re only getting busier. The call to slow down and take care of yourself is simultaneously getting louder and more difficult to heed.

As a SAHM mother of three children under five, who also works part-time, finding time for myself is often not at the top of my to-do list. But I’ve also realized that I’m a better wife and mother if I have a little time to myself. It looks different each day, and I spend it differently each time, but here are a few things I do to ensure a little time for me.

1. Plan it with my hubby. He’s my support and my biggest cheerleader, and he’s always willing to help me have time to get my nails done or even to just take a nap. He encourages me to write, to practice my music, to go out and have coffee without the kids. I plan with him for when he can keep the kids and I can sneak out for an hour or two to refresh, to relax, and do whatever it is I need to regroup.

2. Let some things go. Sometimes, when my kids are napping or go to bed early, I get the urge to clean all the things, fold all the laundry, and prep all the meals. Other times, I let it all slide (even though those chores are still waiting on me) to take a long shower, read a book with un-re-heated coffee, or watch a movie with a glass of wine. Believe me- the dishes aren’t going anywhere.

3. Hang out with a girlfriend (or a few). My girlfriends are a mix of fellow moms and also gal pals who don’t have kids. Sometimes it takes a lot of planning (and babysitters) to get together with them, but other times, I can just have a friend over for morning coffee after preschool drop off, or a post-bedtime chat over wine. Being with a girlfriend can refill the relational and feminine parts of me. And never underestimate the reinvigorating qualities of a girls’ night!

4. Take a power nap. Napping isn’t for everyone, and it wasn’t for me until I had kids. But now that I often choose many things over sleep (including things I love doing, not just chores), a power nap can work wonders. A 20-minute snooze during their nap time can be just as good as napping the whole time they’re asleep! If I know I have things to do after their bedtime, the power nap can keep me going a little longer.

5. Get dressed. I always feel more productive and happier with myself when I make the effort to get out of my pajamas (even if I’m not leaving the house), wash my face, and brush on a coat of mascara. It sounds silly, but it gives me a boost, and makes me feel more like myself, even if I don’t need to do it.

What things do you do to make sure you’re your best self?

The Life of a New Mom

  
When you have a baby, certain things fall to the wayside for a few weeks (months?) that used to matter a little more. There are the normal things, like sleeping and eating. There are also things like laundry and other chores that you fall behind on. There are still more things that you neglect, often about yourself, that it takes you a while to get back into. I’m finding this out, once again, after the birth of my third child. Here are a few of the things I’ve been neglecting for the past six weeks:

Showers. It seems a little gross that you are neglecting these, but honestly, if you have half an hour to yourself, you’ll probably nap (or let’s be honest: sneak out and get a latte) instead of shower. Just being honest.

Beauty routines. The careful steps you took to put on your make up, the way you’d do your hair before you left the house, and the polish on your nails? Say goodbye. I have chipped nail polish from weeks ago, and I barely slap on the mascara every 5 times I leave the house. My hair gets washed every couple of days, and brushed… after I get out of the shower. Oops.

Haircuts. Speaking of hair, this is one of my biggest bummers about neglecting myself for a few weeks. As a person with short hair, I like to get it done about every six weeks, or else it gets super shaggy and it looks like I’m trying out a new (horrible) hair style. It’s been about 9 weeks since I’ve had a haircut, and I’ve stopped checking the back of my head in the mirror at any point. Ignorance is bliss. Oh, I have a giant cowlick back there? That means I actually slept a little last night!

Food. I don’t mean eating it… I mean making sure you have it. And also making sure it’s not rotten. And I hate being wasteful. We’ve run out of milk a few times (not good for my little napping babes) and eggs and bread once or twice as well. But somehow we recently had so many bananas that I ended up freezing the overripe ones for smoothies (because no one wants to eat a mushy banana) and I just threw out three molding peaches (disgusting) and some would-be-delicious leftovers that had been there since… I just don’t know how long. We have completely lost our balance for grocery shopping and food consumption.

Friends. I’ve been trying to do well here, but I’m sorry if I slipped. I’ve definitely texted a few of you a few times. That’s something, right? And several of you have brought us meals, you blessed souls. It’s nice to see a familiar face around here that isn’t asking me to change its diaper or feed it ice cream.

Knowledge of the outside world. Hey, is there some kind of election coming up? Wasn’t there some sport that just had a tournament or got a new outfit thingy? What season is it, again? I can’t even remember the day of the week…

Prayer life. Where I usually try to be very intentional about reading my Bible and choosing something or someone to pray for, recently my prayers have been all but limited to, “Please God, let the baby stay asleep.” and “Dear Lord, please let us have a few more diapers stashed around here somewhere.” Or my personal favorite: “Thank you, Lord, for my kids! And now, bed time!”