Remember those old Smokey the Bear commercials where Smokey would point at the television and say, “Only YOU can prevent wildfires?” I’ve never been camping in the forest, but I think he may have been onto something about motherhood.
Or, what about when you’re on an airplane and half-listen to the flight attendants go over safety instructions? When they cover the oxygen mask part, it generally goes something like:
“In the event of an emergency, an oxygen mask will appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask toward you.” Followed by, “If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.”
Hmm…those flight crew members are onto something here, too.
CHECK YOUR LIST
When you lie in bed at night, after putting your kid(s) to bed, what do you think about?
Let me guess, you think to yourself, “Wow, I totally nailed it today!”
Not so much?
If you’re like me, it’s likely that you lie with your head on the pillow in the dark most nights giving yourself grief for all the things you didn’t accomplish (#momguilt!), the to-do list items that have gone unchecked, yet again.
Instead of this never-ending guilt trap, can I ask you something? Where do you fall on your to-do list? What does self-care look like for you?
Perhaps it’s in the form of working out, having lunch with girlfriends, diving into a good book, getting your nails done, going to Target (um, duh!), heading out on a regular date night with your spouse/partner, or carving out quiet time to do a craft.
Whatever it is that makes you come alive, I’m boldly urging you to put it on the top of your to-do list – today. Consider this your “oxygen mask.”
WHY SELF-CARE IS OUR MOST IMPORTANT JOB AS MOMS
When I don’t eat for awhile, I turn into those characters on the Snickers commercials when they act nuts and people tell them, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” Anyone else? You know the feeling – tired, grumpy, and pretty much willing to eat anything and everything within reach. When this happens, I usually come home and tear through my pantry and refrigerator, and then sit on the couch full and remorseful for overeating.
Neglecting our physical well-being is sort of like that, too. When I don’t prioritize “me time,” – for example in the form of getting in a regular workout – I find myself similar to a state of being hangry – where I’m tired, more irritable and just a loose cannon ready to go off in anger. Let’s be real, no one wants that. Especially, my son and husband.
And, spiritual hangry-ness looks pretty similar, too. If I don’t make time to sit with God in prayer, find what makes me come alive in my soul, or even listen to Christian music, I often find my day falls out of balance fairly quickly. I’m again cranky and just bleh. I’m not myself.
Does any of this sound familiar?
I call these “wildfires.” Signals of lack of self-care start brewing on the horizon, first with smoke: grumpiness, a shortened temper, etc. If we ignore the smoke, the flames roll in: depression, mental breakdowns, weight gain, damaged relationships, or worse.
But, I get it. We’re tight on time and chock-full of responsibilities as moms. And we feel guilty when we prioritize exercise over laundry, quiet time over productivity.
Author, business coach, speaker and Dave Ramsey Personality, Christy Wright said it best, “Self-care is a mindset of how I value myself as a woman…” And she also says, “When I take time away from my family….it doesn’t make me a bad mom. It makes me a better mom…I come back happier. I’m more confident. I like myself more.”
Yes, girl. Preach!
I loved what she said on the God Centered Mom Podcast about the fact that our kids model how we value and care for ourselves. That really hit me.
Do I want my son thinking that he shouldn’t prioritize what makes him come alive, what makes him feel like the best version of himself, what brings him happiness? Nope, nope and definitely nope.
WHAT SELF-CARE LOOKS LIKE FOR ME
Growing up as an athlete, working out has always been my obsession of choice. I’m a runner at heart, but I’m also into indoor cycling, weight training, yoga, etc.
My self-care regimen includes prioritizing a 30-40 minute workout five days per week. It’s a non-negotiable. I generally do my workout at my son’s nap time, and it’s a good midday pick-me-up to give me the energy boost and confidence I need to make it to bedtime.
Another priority for me is to spend quiet, alone time in prayer. I try to get up earlier than my son, Roman (most days) so that I have time to read through my daily scripture in my Anchored Press planner, sometimes read my She Reads Truth Bible, and to just talk to God like a friend. He centers me before I’m at the mercy of a bossy toddler. And there’s power in that, my friends.
I also really love reading. There’s nothing that winds me down from a busy day like laying in bed with good book. I have a hard time shutting my brain off most nights, which I imagine is a side-effect of #mombrain. While my husband prefers TV time at night, I try to drown out the noise by burying my head into a good read.
What are your self-care priorities? Do you feel most alive when you’re socializing with friends? Then, get with a couple of your closest girls and set a recurring lunch date. If it’s set on the calendar, you’re more likely to make time for it.
Do you crave physical activity, but you’re not sure how to work it into your busy schedule? Perhaps you could prioritize time before your kid(s) awake, or after bedtime. Make it a non-negotiable.
Do you wish for more quiet, alone time with your husband/partner? Schedule a recurring date night, even if it’s a date night in on a Tuesday.
Whatever the time of day, whatever the activity, my plea is that you schedule it – and follow through. Consistently. As Christy said, “Self-care is a mindset..” So, it shouldn’t be a once-in-a-while thing.
EXTINGUISH THE FLAMES, PUT YOUR MASK ON FIRST
My mission with this blog is to help you find motherhood well-lived, both physically and spiritually. And my desperate hope is that if you see your own wildfire on the horizon that you extinguish it today by taking the one small action of creating your self-care routine.
Let’s stop the internal script that tells us that our well-being isn’t a priority. Let’s model the kind of self-care that we want for our kids. Let’s be on the lookout for our own wildfires, and let us remember to put on our oxygen masks first. We deserve it, mamas. And so do our families.
What does your self-care routine include? Share your thoughts in the comments below.