I’ve just had my first child. I expected the hardest thing in the first year of my son’s life would be learning how to take care of him, but so far the hardest thing has been taking care of me. When you have someone that precious depend on you for food, sleep, love and staying clean! – it’s very easy to become all-consumed with responding to his every need. Relegating my ‘self-care’ becomes an ‘as time permits’ basis.
This is not sustainable!
In an effort to ensure I will be a happy and emotionally healthy Mom, and to not feel guilty whenever I take care of me, I have made a list of 2014 resolutions. I hope to be able to enjoy the rewards of being a Mom without feeling burnt out.
Use this list for yourself to choose your own mom goal – or add to it. Whether you’re caring for elderly parents or for children, it’s important to make self-care a priority for you in 2014.
1. Take at least one ‘timeout’ per day, for you
Schedule a break at least once a day with your partner, nanny or babysitter taking care of your child. Read a book, go for a run, walk, arrange to have coffee with friends, take a class, go shopping, catch up on gossip, or take a nap. Anything you do for yourself will recharge you.
2. Learn some quick relaxation techniques
Take a class in meditation or buy a DVD to guide you through relaxation exercises. Taking a few long deep breaths, dropping your shoulders and relaxing your face muscles as you breathe out, can help you pause and find new energy in tough times.
3. Never short-change your sleep
On busy days, it can be easy to convince yourself that you just need to fit in one more task and you’ll catch up on sleep on the weekend or the following day. But for me this never happens! When faced with a choice between finishing a work project, doing housework, watching TV, emailing – and getting enough sleep – always choose sleep.
4. Plan ahead
I always find that if I feel on top of things, I’m happier and healthier – I get more sleep and I get more done. Successful time management starts with good planning. To save time so that you can focus on your most important priorities, I’ve done things like frozen meals, hired a housekeeper and asked friends and family for more free help.
6. Plan a regular date night or weekend away
Arrange a regular sleepover for the kids with their grandparents, relatives or friends, so that you can spend uninterrupted time with your partner. For weekends, you can swap sleepover duty with friends and relatives.
7. Make time with friends a priority.
It’s easy to de-prioritize time with friends over spending time with your kids or your partner. But friends are important for your health and wellbeing. Schedule a regular kids-free catch-up. It’s important to share your feelings, frustrations, wins and losses with people who can give you advice and make you feel less alone. Or, try joining a new parents group to meet new people with kids the same age as yours.
8. Start a gratitude journal and send thank you cards regularly.
There can be nothing as fulfilling as spending time writing down the happy moments from your day, or showing gratitude by writing a short thank you card for the most important people in your life who support and help you.
9. Give yourself a gift.
Whether it’s something as small as a coffee at your favourite café, a bunch of fresh flowers, your favourite magazine, or a bigger purchase you’ve been saving for – make sure you reward yourself often with small pleasures. You deserve to be treated.
Do you know someone who puts everything and everyone else first before looking after themselves? Why not share this article with them as a gentle reminder.