Author: Melissa Feldmeyer
(photo credit for original art above: Melissa’s daughter)
Self-care is one of the biggest buzz phrases out there these days. Maybe it buzzes extra loud in the ears of us working moms because it is extra important for us with the many roles and expectations we are juggling on a daily basis. And because of all that juggling, it can seem like an exceptionally challenging concept to master.
My biggest struggle with self-care has been with the big old “G” word. Guilt. The nasty side kick to many a working mom. I am away from my kids for a large chunk of the day and I use to feel like I owed all of my remaining seconds, minutes and hours to them with my undivided attention and enthusiasm. I wouldn’t even object to them following me into the bathroom, because I felt like I owed them, like, ALL of my time. After a while of living like that, I just always felt like I was running on empty. Like I had sliced up the pie of my life, given away all the pieces, and was left with an empty pan…. but I was hungry too!
Since I know we all have 7,000,000,000 pieces of parenting advice and versions of “Baby Shark” in our head at any given moment- I’ve condensed my self-care tips into easy to remember acronyms. Because those are still buzzy too, right? And my 4 year old Maddie has very generously agreed to illustrate these tips for you visual learners out there (in exchange for Skittles- she drives a hard bargain).
BYOM- No, this does not mean bring your own margaritas (but you can if you want, and I’ll join you). This stands for Be Your Own Mom. Think of the stream of consciousness you have in a given day, or at 1 am like me, about the wellbeing of your child. Are they getting enough sleep? Are they eating enough veggies? Are their clothes too small? Are they have enough friends? Are they good friends? Does school challenge them enough? Do they have clean underwear? Did you schedule their next doctor and dentist appointment yet? Are those sniffles allergies or a cold?
Now think about the last time you did this full scan of body and spirit on yourself. Are YOU eating enough veggies? When did YOU last go to the doctor for just a regular old checkup? Do YOU have enough clean underwear? (you’re just answering in your head… so you can be honest). Does your work challenge you enough?
As my dozens of dead plants could tell you- it is a biological fact that every living thing needs to be taken care of to survive. By now you are an expert in analyzing and acting on the needs of your little ones- take those same methods and apply them to yourself.
DIFY- Do. It. For. You. Sometimes moms feel the need to justify taking care of themselves because of what it will mean for those around them. You’ll be happier for your children, more patient with your co-workers, a more present partner. Like any feelings of that “G” word will disappear if we can make our self-care self-less. Can this be a lovely side effect of self-care? Yes. Should it be your driving motivation? No. You deserve to invest in your mental, physical and all other forms of health for no other reason than you deserve to be a whole, complete and happy person. Remind yourself of this when any other feeling start creeping in.
YP2- You Pick 2. Or 3. Or even 1. When it can be a struggle to get a real shower in everyday, it can feel overwhelming and unrealistic to think of a world where you are Zen and harmoniously balancing your needs with the needs of those around you. If you don’t know where to start, start simple. Pick 1 or 2 things you NEED in your life in order to feel like a version of yourself you recognize. It might be eating clean, yoga, a certain number of hours of sleep per night, learning a new skill. For me, as a classic introvert, my first act of self-care was prioritizing alone time. Just 1 hour a day where my world was quiet and demand less. It recharges my batteries in a way not even a full night of sleep ever could, helps me center my thoughts and feel ready to face the world. Without it I feel drained and scattered. Some days the only time I get is my drive to and from work. Sometimes I block off my lunch hour. But I need to make it happen so I fit it in where I can. There are other acts of self-care that are fulfilling and calming, but this is just my 1 must have, so I am willing to give up some of the others to have it.
IAFYDSTTA- If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. But I’m sure you guessed that, right? There are times I am ON IT and winning. Meal prep, check. Outfits laid out for me and my kids, check. Laundry, fun adventures with the kids, exercise, hair and nails done, all checks. It is rare, but it happens. Then there are other more frequent occasions where things crumble a bit- your kids gets sick, your partner is out of town, you’re working late more for a big project. That self-care routine you’ve established can go out the window, and probably when you need it the most. When this happens be kind to yourself, be patient with yourself (reference BYOM). Tomorrow is another day so give it another shot- you always were and always will be worth the investment you make in and care you give yourself.