Self Care for Mom
You can’t. It’s impossible.
You’re still here?
Listen, no one gets everything done. We have finite time and a larger, seemingly infinite amount of work to be done (it, too is actually finite, but repetitive and redundant). Whether we work outside the home or inside the home (or some of both), whether we homeschool or outsource (or some of both), whatever we do there is always more to do than the time in which to do it.
So, we must prioritize … or … muddle. Or, ahem, some of both.
There is a level of “self care” moms need, sure. But mostly what we need? It’s the same basic things we’re providing for our children: food, shelter, clothing, cleanliness, healthcare, living ideas, and time with the Lord. Maybe even exercise.
Everything else is gravy.
Let me say that again: Everything else is gravy.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I do like some gravy.
I like to paint my nails from time to time – but I’ve rarely had a manicure and not since I’ve had kids. I think the manicure straw-man is just that. No one is really arguing for manicures as a mainstay of self care. However, most people have some desire to care for their appearance; it matters to them (and their family) to dress appropriately, have coiffed hair, and not look dowdy. But, it doesn’t have to be an all-encompassing pursuit, either. Simplify, my friends.
Susan Wise Bauer used to say of children who are struggling with self control they may need a snack, a shower, or sleep (in that order). I thought it was interesting that a shower was in there. Now, when you have all littles, a time to shower can be a challenge. But, a shower can often improve a mood by helping us to relax just that little bit. Can a quick shower be a bit of self care in the midst of a fraught day? How about you clean the stall while you’re in there?
I like good food, good drink, and good books. Sometimes we order pizza and watch Netflix at the end of the day.
I like to go to the bathroom by myself on most occasions. I’ve yet to figure out a solution to this. I do know that if I want to find my kids – ages 11-13, I can go to the bathroom. So there’s that.
Time with the Lord is important and my continued learning about His world is too, but sometimes I can double up and listen to the Bible as a podcast, other podcasts, or a book on CD while I walk the dog or vacuum the house.
Sometimes choosing ‘getting it done’ is the better part. Multi-tasking when multiple tasks can actually be accomplished together is the better part; but multi-tasking when tasks don’t go together is disastrous. The trick is figuring out what pairs well.
Another part of self-care is prioritizing our health. That means dentists, doctors, and other health care providers. Don’t shirk off seeing those people. Which reminds me … I really should make a doctor appointment or two – for the next school break.
As moms we can really get by on very little and sometimes we have to put things we want to the side and rest in the things we need.
Sometimes self care looks like training a young child how we want the dusting to be done. Or an older child how to load the dishwasher (or wash the dishes). By taking jobs off our plates, we exercise self care. You cannot feel guilty about this. These are things that must be done and things which our children must learn to do. It will seem hard in the midst; it will seem like it’s not worth it; it will seem like it would be better to just do it yourself. It isn’t. Keep training.
Sometimes self care means you need to talk to your husband about what you need to do the job you’ve taken on. I need a stretch of time each week to pre-read and plan. This is the life our family has chosen, and so we need to work as a team to accomplish that. I don’t need to do my pre-reading and planning at Starbucks (if you can, that’s great!).
Sometimes self care means quiet time in the afternoon for everyone and Mommy takes a nap because the day has been too people-y and she needs to introvert. But sometimes it looks like, dinner’s on the table, honey, I need to hide for a bit. Or I’m meeting a friend for a glass of wine.
Sometimes self care means you let things you would like to do go because the need elsewhere is greater. Jesus told us that “He who would be first must be last.” Now, I’m not talking about being a martyr to your desires. “I gave this up so you could do that.” That’s not pretty for anybody. But there are things to prioritize when you’re a grown-up and there are things to give up because you’re the grown-up.
Sometimes self care means you recognize that you’ve prioritized the wrong thing and you must repent. Sometimes you have to fix mistakes, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and do the next thing anyway. Self care means when you’ve repented, you don’t recriminate.
Self care isn’t about spa days or extras. It’s about being reasonable and knowing your limits and doing the best you can within those limits – whether they’re time or money or emotional energy. They’re setting your expectations at a level that can be achieved. They’re about finding contentment and joy in the everyday and not expecting the world to fall at your feet.
How do I get everything done? I shrink my expectations of “everything” to what can actually be done and am content with that.
Dawn Garrett lives in Central Ohio with her husband Jason and their three always-homeschooled children, ages 13, 12, and 11. In her homeschool, she and her children learn about God and His cosmos by studying the seven liberal arts in order to know Him better, imitate Him and His ways, and share about Him with others. She follows the AmblesideOnline curriculum. Her home blog – about books school and life – has been at ladydusk for more than 15 years.
She is the author of the free ebook: I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will: Charlotte Mason’s Motto Explained for Upper Elementary Students.