The Importance of Self-Care

When Zu was around 22 months old and June was a colicky, fussy newborn I felt like the worst mom in the world. Like if it were a title, I would win it. I was constantly feeling overwhelmed, drowning in the never-ending rip-tide of Need.

So the one who could wait—me, obviously—would just have to wait for whatever that one needed. I’d put off meals because the girls needed to be fed (then changed and naps and then one would need one thing while the other needed something else), or showers, or make-up, or time alone, I reasoned that since I was the grown-up, I could just put some of those things off until the kids got what they needed.

The problem was I was sometimes skipping entirely what I needed because the kids were both babies and needed me constantly—as a result, I wasn’t just grumpy, frazzled and overwhelmed, I was snappy with my family and sometimes almost panicked feeling, especially when June had her crying fits (11 to 3a.m., her Angry Hours).

I don’t remember when it was exactly, maybe when June was around 6 months old, that I knew I had to change something, so I started having snacks. And I found it was a lot easier to feel patient and not-overwhelmed when I wasn’t so hungry. Then I started making it more of a priority to shower and get “dressed for the day” every morning. Little by little, things were getting better.

In various other crazy hectic survival-mode times of life with littles, I’ve found that one of the most important things for me to keep doing is taking care of myself. It sounds selfish and is counter-intuitive to me—I thought it would make more sense to just take care of them first, then what I needed later—but the kids never stop needing, so if I don’t take care of what I need, then I’m not able to be as good of a mom as I could be. ( the “oxygen-mask” metaphor, Mom’s Night Out).

Every person has their different priorities of needs, and I think its important to know what those are before going into a new busy season. I’ve been thinking on mine lately, and on my husband’s, so that when babygirl #3 makes her appearance, we can slow down and enjoy her as much as possible.

For my husband, sleep is #1 priority, but for me, my list is more like this:

Self-Care Needs
(for Me To be a Good Momma and Not a Cranky, Overwhelmed Crazy Woman)

  1. Food
    When trying to lose the baby weight, it is tempting for me to skip snacks and skimp on meals, but when I don’t get enough to eat, I get snappy or faint, neither of which is good.
  2. Some Personal Hygiene
    (I’m not one that NEEDS a full face of make up and my hair perfect, but I must have a shower, wear my contacts, and wear real clothes—no sweatpants.)
  3. Somewhat Clean Environment
    (Everyone has different priorities with cleanliness—what bothers me the most is when the house starts to feel too cluttered or the dishes pile up too high.)
  4. Some Alone Time
    (this is the hardest one to come by, but I really do need it and I’m willing to make some sacrifices to get it—lately that’s meant waking up at 5a.m. to have an hour to myself before the girls wake up. as an introvert—INTJ personality—I need some quiet before the chaos, to pray, to be alone with my thoughts, to write.)
  1. One-on-One Time with Bryan
    (oh to have a conversation un-interrupted by mommy, mommy, mommy… or waaaaaahhhhh)

Sleep isn’t a huge deal for me—I mean, obviously I am not a robot and so I must sleep—I just do ok with having less sleep or cat-naps here and there. I can also do fine without socialization or lots of time outside the house. Both of those things would be high up on my husband’s needs list but barely make it to mine.

So though I guess it sounds selfish, I do plan on taking time to take care of myself (the oxygen mask!), even with three little girls needing me this fall.

~

What is your self-care priority list? Similar or very different from mine?

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5 thoughts on “The Importance of Self-Care

  1. I don’t think this is selfish at all and I applaud your honesty and bravery in writing this. I think moms don’t talk about this enough–the panicked, overstuffed, exhausted life of a mom of young children–and I think, when you’re out of that phase, maybe you forget. I’ve started getting up early again this week–between 5 and 5:30 on weekdays–and it’s made a world of difference to my attitude. For me, time alone is definitely #1 (and somewhat clean environment probably #2). If I have those things in some small measure each day, I can handle everything else decently well. I am very grateful you wrote this post. It helps me not to feel alone in my needs–and I feel the same way you do–I am a much better mom when I can get a couple of my needs taken care of. (Sleep is Tyson’s most important one, too…and, like you, it’s a little less important for me.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. so glad i’m not the only one!! and that 5am alone time makes such a difference doesn’t it? i’ve been doing that the past couple weeks and i feel so much more peaceful and i’ve really needed that extra patience and peace with all the acting out june’s been doing lately (she’s realized that i’m pregnant–and that when she throws herself down and goes limp i have a hard time carrying her….out of whatever restaurant or store we are in, while she screams no at the top of her lungs). i digress. also, your house is so beautifully organized and minimalistic–if we lived nearby, i could possibly leave my house a wreck and just stop by your house when i need a good dose of clean-and-beautiful-environment 😉

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  2. I totally get what you’re throwing down, and I only have one kid who’s 4 years old! Her level of neediness seems high to me still, though, and I can’t go 2 seconds without hearing, “Hey, Mama…” (We joke that Stephen’s name is really “Hey Mama, I mean, Daddy” because that’s how Charlotte always addresses him-haha!) Anyway, I love this post and the honesty and completely agree that self-care is so, so important, especially when that self-care involves nourishing the soul, something that is so easily neglected when there are so many demands in the day. This makes me want to think of my own list of priorities and see how I’m doing at meeting them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks Erin! i’ve always found it interesting what other people’s need-priorities are–bryan’s are SO different from mine–he could go a year without alone time but can’t miss a half hour of sleep, haha.

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  3. Hi there from the comment section at Emily’s! I love your emphasis on self-care … where were you back in the day when I had my little ones! This non-essential is one of the most important life lessons we need to embrace … kinda like putting on the oxygen mask before we tend to saving everyone else.

    So cool to meet you today!

    Liked by 1 person

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