As parents, we have our work cut out for us. We give of ourselves in so many ways, caring for our children and nurturing relationships with those we love, all while keeping up with our responsibilities of work and home.
Indeed, parenthood is a service of giving and caring.
To sustain this type of lifestyle — that’s full of so much giving — we must also practice the art of self-care. This sometimes can feel like another “thing” we need to add to our daily list of things to do, but the reality is that when we neglect to take care of ourselves, it can have negative effects on both our mental and physical health, ultimately affecting our whole being.
That’s why we need to nurture healthy habits so that we can be the mothers — and the individuals — that we want to be: women living with purpose, balance, connection and joy!
Being a mom is a privilege, a wonderful gift that can provide us with much joy and fulfillment.
But motherhood is an immense responsibility, so it’s important, especially when times are a little tougher, to think about how to prioritize our individual needs.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to be reflective about the care you’re giving to others to see if it is balanced with the care you’re offering yourself.
Hard though it may seem, you can choose to prioritize the following habits to promote your own well-being and, by extension, your family’s welfare, too:
Get enough rest
No, really. This is first for a reason.
Sleep is vital for our functioning, mental state, physical health and overall well-being. Sleep deprivation is common among mothers, and it can inflict serious consequences on our health and even the care we’re able to provide for our families.
When we’re sleep-deprived, we lack patience and have difficulty focusing and concentrating — and we’re often more irritable. This goes for grownups and kids alike!
As parents, we need to be mindful and intentional about our sleep habits. We must be extra diligent to get the sleep we need to maintain our overall health.
Do what you can to balance your responsibilities (you may need to let some things go or ask for help), take naps and catch up on sleep when you can. It will make you a better mother.
Making time for exercise can feel like work at first, but when you make it a habit in your life, you’ll quickly be able to feel the benefits. Exercise helps you feel good, strong, confident and energized. (Read more of my ramblings on this topic in my column last month.)
To make exercise a habit in your daily life, you may benefit by having some type of motivation or accountability tool, such as scheduled classes, a gym membership, a workout partner or a fitness tracker. Seek out activities that work with your lifestyle and that are fun and sustainable.
Do your best to be mindful of the quality and quantity of food you’re putting into your body each day. Sustain yourself with nourishing, regularly scheduled meals and keep healthy snacks on hand. Drink lots of water and limit overconsumption of caffeine and/or alcohol. Choose high-quality fuel for your body. When you eat right, you won’t feel so tired.
Make time for connection
Nurture relationships with your partner, friends and other loved ones. Carve out quality time with your spouse and make sure you have time each day to enjoy your children. (Yes!)
Set aside time to connect with your friends in person, over the phone and/or over social media.
Work to stay spiritually anchored by devoting even just a few minutes of quiet time each day for prayer, meditation or gratitude practices.
Nurture your joy
Do something each day that you really like to do. Maybe you enjoy volunteering in one of your child’s activities or maybe you like to play an instrument, garden, knit or paint. What fills you up? What stimulates your mind? Fuel your creative spirit — so you aren’t parenting with an empty emotional tank.
Work to make these self-care strategies habits in your daily life. You may need to start small, incorporating one or two of these ideas as consistent routines, but even a small effort will likely yield positive benefits.
Take a few minutes to be reflective about the care you’re giving to others to see if it is balanced with the care you’re offering yourself.
Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives with her husband and four children in Northeastern Minnesota. She blogs at Kids and Eggs.