As a mum, how many times have you thought - "I’ll do that later, I’ll do that when kids are asleep, I’ll do that next week or may be next month or may be next year"? The wish getting postponed could be a simple daily pleasure like reading a book by yourself or something big, like going on a night out.
Mothers seem capable of a lot of guilt when it comes to wishing for some time-off and having fun without involving their kids. The excuses as to why you are needed by the family at that exact time are usually validated by the mum in you saying “you are doing the right thing”. But then, what about you as a person?
Putting yourself first is important too. Taking care of your mental, emotional and physical health will nourish, fulfil and satisfy you and have you bouncing back with all the vigour and zest.
It is important to consciously put yourself first, especially as a mum, when your first instinct is always to think about your children. Your well-being is paramount because that is what makes you capable to ensure the well-being of others you care for.
Here are some ways in which you could put yourself first.
Me time Have some time away from the kids. If you still haven’t tried it, you should. For those who have and are struggling to make time, you might want to schedule something periodically. With that, everybody involved would know that your “me-time” is coming up and would be ready for it.
I’ll enjoy one hot coffee every evening, all by myself.
I’ll go for a long walk, every Sunday, all by myself.
I’ll spend a whole day, once a month, all by myself.
If that is asking for too much of your time, you could do something ad hoc when you see that you are burning out. In this case, ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t make you any less of a mother.
Your partner could be the go-to person for the kids, while you do your thing.If you have family or friends who are willing to help, ask if they could watch the kids for an hour or two. If you can afford a babysitter, I’d say use that money.
Being with yourself gives you time to think about things you don’t usually think. You get a bit of respite from having to be on all the time. Even though you cannot completely switch off the mum in you, you can pause and think about you as you - a person. We all need things to make us whole as a person. Kids are one of those things. Use this time to think about the rest. What satisfies you and makes you happy and fulfilled as a person? Think of your emotional and mental health, your career, your life outside home.
Taking care of yourself
Food Food and exercise are very important to keep you going. Make it a point to eat as healthy and nutritious as possible. It is very easy to fall prey to a routine of skipped meals and junk food, in the rush to keep up with the kids’ timetables. But what goes in shows up, both on your body and in the way you handle meltdowns. Having a meal plan before grocery shopping might help from reaching for the instant noodles.
Exercise If you are someone who is on your toes pretty much all the time, especially with a toddler, then physical exhaustion is your life. Squeezing in a little bit of exercise would still be a good idea. Even though you are physically active, mundane day to day activities tend to drain our energy. Exercises on the other hand release endorphin which makes you feel good and brings positivity in your life. Even just a brisk walk in your neighbourhood might make you feel good.
Hobbies Having hobbies that make you happy serves the purpose of rejuvenating your mind and helps in getting your mind off the rut. If you have discontinued your hobbies without even noticing, it would be a good idea to bring them back to life. You could also try starting something new that interests you. It is all about giving time to things that you want to do, just for yourself.
Pamper and relax Don’t wait until Mother’s Day to pamper yourself. You deserve to be pampered, if not by others, then by yourself. Take a break. Go for a mani-pedi or massage. Get a new haircut when you need a change. Try meditation to relax and slow your mind down. Watch a movie at the Cinema.
Finally If you think you are being stretched thin, talk to your partner or the person closest to you. Discuss, especially with your partner, on how you can change your routine as a family to make time for “you”. Always remember that you are very important.