Have you ever been on an airplane and thought about the safety instructions the steward or stewardess gives? He or she usually says, “If the pressure in the cabin changes, an oxygen mask will drop from overhead. If you are traveling with a young child, please put on your oxygen mask first and then assist your child.”
A mom can learn so much from these words: please put on your oxygen mask first and then assist your child. There is so much truth in that for everyday life!
Motherhood requires us to give, give, and give some more. It’s the nature of the job. Taking care of our self seems a bit, well, selfish—if we’re honest with ourselves.
What a mom needs to realize, however, is that self-care is not selfish. The airline industry knows something most of us need to understand. A mom who is does not take care of herself first is a mom who cannot be the leader, the nurturer, the caregiver she needs to be, in everyday life or in a crisis.
What does self-care look like? It starts with caring for our physical body. Are you getting good rest? Eating healthy? Exercising regularly? If you answer no to any of those three questions, that’s probably the first place to start. Yes, it’s hard to leave the laundry unfolded and dishes in the sink, but if doing so allows you one extra hour of sleep, it may very well be worth it. Plus you’ll kick into gear much easier the next day when your body gets the rest it needs. Increase your fruit and veggie intake and limit the unhealthy fats. And get moving…even if it means just a 30 minute walk on Constitution Trail or around the neighborhood.
We also have to care for ourselves emotionally. How are you wired emotionally? Introvert (refueled by being alone)? Extrovert (refueled by being with people)? Whichever you are, you need to be intentional about getting the kind of fuel you need. Emotional health also happens when there is balance in our life. Do you have too many irons in the fire? Need to say no to a few things? Don’t let guilt or pressure dictate what you will or will not do. Determine what your priorities are and say no to anything that doesn’t fit into your pre-determined priority list.
Finally self-care requires us to learn to ask for help. That’s right…we like to believe that we are supermom, but the truth is that we can only carry so much responsibility before we crash. Instead of caving into the martyr syndrome (I have to do it all!), learn to ask for help with household tasks like cleaning, cooking, and laundry. Your family lives in the house, they eat the food, and they wear the clothes that need to be washed. They have a responsibility to help take care of all of those things. It’s not a sign of failure for us to ask for help. In fact, it’s a sign of strength and leadership.
A little bit of intentionality move self-care into the priority it needs to be in your life. Because really, taking care of yourself is taking care of your family!
Jill Savage (www.jillsavage.org) is the author of eight books including Professionalizing Motherhood, Real Moms…Real Jesus, and Living With Less So Your Family Has More. Jill is also the Founder and CEO of Hearts at Home (www.heartsathome.org) an organization that encourages and educates moms. Look for Jill’s newest book, No More Perfect Moms in bookstores everywhere.