By Rachel Steinmetz (@mamatoafox)
Maybe you’ve envisioned yourself being a mother since you were a kid yourself, maybe motherhood came unexpectedly; whether through birth, adoption, fostering, etc.; kid in hand you’ve gone through the biggest transformation of your life. Motherhood, a title filled with expectations from everyone, mainstream society, your partner, extended family and heck even strangers in grocery stores, and while you know deep down there’s no one right way to be a parent, you’re not stressing the New Year, new you. You’re still the same old you and you’re stressed.
So let’s talk mom guilt, self care, and how 2021 is finally the year you stop neglecting yourself, because, ready? The reality is, yes, taking care of yourself is selfish. You have to set aside time to do it. But taking care of you, makes you a better you.
Makes you a better mom.
Motherhood isn’t a one and done experience. It’s a constant. Daily. No one day the same. No days off. You learn something new, every day, and just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, a growth spurt, a stomach bug, a project no one told you about until the night before it was due. Juggling motherhood, marriage, work and friendships are hard enough, now you’re also supposed to find time for you? And not feel guilty about perfect all the time. Why is it so hard to let go of that perfect mom ideal? Why does it feel wrong to take care of you?
Mom guilt. You know the voice that constantly says you’ve lost your cool too many times, you weren’t present enough, they didn’t learn enough today. You spend all day, every day, taking care of someone else, and it still feels like you could have done more. That feeling.
Not eating? Not sleeping? Not taking care of you? It’s not sustainable. Learn to be selfish. For your kids. For your spouse. For you.
If you’re not in the place where you can get help from babysitters, extended family, or friends here are some at home small ways to care of yourself, with a big impact.
Be honest, how many times did you just eat whatever your toddler had left on their plate and call it a meal. Your kids are living their best life...there are so many amazing foods being constantly prepared for them by their personal chef and yet you still somehow feel guilty taking time to make something for yourself? No more!
Depending on where you are in your season of Motherhood, it might be completely unrealistic for you to eat 3 full meals every day; but what you can do is, instead of skipping a meal, keep an RXBAR handy. In a diaper bag, on your nightstand, in the bathroom if you have to. RXBAR is a real food protein bar with nutritious, simple ingredients: egg whites, fruits, and nuts. Each bar is gluten free and contains high quality protein from egg whites.Talk about guilt free.
You’ll find, much like your kids, the hungrier you are the crankier you get. So feed those bellies. All of them. They’re perfect for breakfast on the go, as protein-packed snack bars. And if you need more convincing, protein is great for milk production and helps increase dopamine (the feel good hormone) naturally. See how fast your mood and patience improves from yummy egg whites, dates, and a few other simple ingredients.
Dance It Out
Toddlers always have a way of spilling something or coloring on furniture when you’re in the worst mood already. Not their fault. Developmentally, kids are right on track, even during the hard stuff, but wow, food messes can be so triggering. Instead of blowing your top, try leaving the room, screaming in the coat closet. They’re trying their best. Just like you. For those really hard days, play Baby Shark and dance. it. out.
Unabashedly dancing around the living room or kitchen is proven to work. Just ask science. You, that’s right. There’s a scientific reason dancing reduces stress. Dancing causes your body to release endorphins. Endorphins serve as the body’s natural way to reduce stress and improve the mind’s perception of the world. They also aid in improving the quality of sleep. For those of you who didn’t frequent a dance club in your pre mom years, this all just means dancing makes you happy. Happy people make for happy parents.
Do Something For You
Even if it’s after the kids are asleep. Even if it’s for half an hour. Watch that show you wouldn’t admit to anyone you actually enjoy. Read a book that doesn’t have to do with parenting. Do a screen free activity with your partner. Take a shower in the dark. Eat your dinner in the bathtub. Scroll through Instagram. Go to bed early (*gasp*).
Anything. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be outside the house. It just has to be something for you.
Airplanes have you put your Oxygen on before helping someone next to you for a reason. You have to take care of you to take care of others, even if it feels foreign, even if it starts as small as making sure you’re fed every day. Watch how quickly, seemingly, little things make a big difference.