Self care may seem cliché by now, but it is vital for moms and caregivers! We cannot pour from empty cups. We become better mothers when our own needs are met first and we feel like we have something to give. In this episode, I share how I went from spent and empty, to filled up and empowered by just changing a few things!
As a mom, it is not easy to fit in extra time for self care. It's something we'd all like to have, but pretty much laugh at the thought of actually getting it! What if I was to tell you that you can get your cup filled up without having to change much of anything in your daily schedule? Well, I've been able to do just that and share with you how in this episode!
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Links in this Episode
- Recommended book – Love Yourself, Love Your Life by Louise Hay
- Homemade Bath Salts Recipe
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- Join my podcast email list to get updates when new shows air!
- Podcast Facebook Group – The Merry Messy Moms Show
Hi mamas! Welcome back. Thank you as always for tuning in. So today, we are going to talk about self care. Which I know, isn't a new topic and you might be thinking, yeah, yeah, yada yada. We all know we are supposed to take care of ourselves, but I have NO extra time! I'm a super busy mom! I get it, and what I'm going to talk to you about today doesn't actually require any extra time!
So, when I first became a mom, I knew of the concept of self care but really had no idea how to put it into practice or why it was important.
I Became Obsessed About Being a Perfect Mom
I became kinda obsessed with being the perfect mom and for me, that meant sacrificing everything for my new baby. I'm the kinda person that goes ALL in when I do something new, so I did what I do and dove into motherhood head first. I wanted to give my oldest, Gabriel, the perfect food, education, home environment, toys. I didn't realize that I need to put my sanity first – not until about 5-6 years in as a mom! I thought their happiness and self-worth was more important than my own because I didn't realize I was struggling with my own self-worth to begin with. Can't work on something that you don't know is an issue!
I Began to Lose My Sense of Self
So like many new moms, I began to lose myself in motherhood. I lost my sense of self, which, by the way, I don't beat myself up for now. It was part of my journey and process to grow as a woman, become stronger, more confident and happier. But it got to the point where I just wasn't making decisions that were right or me and the kids. And many of my decisions were based out of fear instead of following my intuition and desires and what is best for me. Anytime we are doing things out of fear, we are inviting stress, heartache and trouble!
How Homeschooling Helped Empowered Me to Take Care of Myself
So I'm going to share my homeschooling journey with you to illustrate this. I was scared of what my little babies might encounter in school. Bullying, tons of homework, losing their love of learning. Even though I desperately needed a break by the time my oldest was 4, and I had 3 kids ages 6 months, 2 and 4, talk about busy and exhausted! I didn't send him to preschool. I thought he didn't need it and that I could just teach myself – which is true, I could teach him myself and many parents do it very successfully. But I didn't know myself well enough to know that it would not suit my personality and nature. My husband did though, and cautioned me against it! Which is even funnier now.
Homeschooling was Isolating for Me
I'm an extroverted extrovert and staying at home for homeschooling was too isolating for me. My kids might enjoy it, but I didn't enjoy it. I'm also a very creative, artistic person and organization in the traditional sense is super hard for me. So organizing lessons, knowing what to teach, etc was so stressful and difficult for me. The funny thing is that I never once thought about how sanity was also important – I was scared to send them to school and was determined to tough it out at the expense of my own mental health!
I Began to Feel SO Overwhelmed
So it got to the point where I was teaching my then 6 year old and 4 year old, with a 2 year old running around and I got pregnant with baby Ella. I was so overwhelmed at that point as I didn't feel like homeschool was going well. The boys wouldn't listen to me or follow the lessons, even though I had really fun Waldorf-style lessons where we would go out in the woods and collect things for science, and read lots of fun fairy tales, sing songs, dance, color and make art. Everything kids love to do! Yet they weren't learning to read and I knew they were getting behind.
I interviewed other moms about public school
Needless to say, I was starting to freak out. I prayed and prayed – God, I thought you called me to this? What's going on? I am so lonely, so unhappy. I'm supposed to love homeschooling. That was the problem right there – I was judging my own feelings. So I felt like God prompted me to message 10 of my friends who had their kids in public schools in the local area to ask them how it was going, just to see.
I was shocked by the response!
10 out of 10 moms said they loved the local schools and their kids were thriving. They weren't buried in homework, or hating to learn, or being bullied. And those that were struggling were getting great help from the programs offered in the school.
I Began to Acknowledge My Own Feelings Instead of Ignoring Them
I can hardly describe in words the relief I felt – for the first time since I become a mom, I allowed myself to acknowledge how I'd been feeling. It was a first for me – I had become super good at stuffing my feelings because they must be wrong and I shouldn't feel that way because I'm supposed to be a perfect mom and like doing domestic things!
My husband and I decided to stop homeschooling and we put our oldest two in school, and the youngest in preschool. I was soooo happy! I felt like a burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I had so much peace about the decision and we began to all thrive. They even had fantastic teachers their first year that made the transition easy.
Now just to be very clear – this is not a bash on homeschooling. Not at all – this is to illustrate that it's so important to not lose ourselves in motherhood. To know who we are, what we are good at, and to prioritize our mental health above all.
Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First
It really is true that we must put on our own oxygen masks before putting them on the our kids. It's much easier for our kids to thrive if we are thriving.
So I got to work mentally and spiritually – allowing myself to feel my feelings, not judging myself for them. For instance, I realized that I am not Debbie Domestic really at all. And I can still be a mom and not be domestic. I don't like cooking, I have a messy, dirty house most of the time, my pantry is totally disorganized and so are many of my cabinets. And guess what? That's okay. I can still be a great mom. So I stopped shaming myself for those feelings and desires and just let it go!
It released so much stress and anxiety. It made more time for me to do the things I love, like start my blog. I realized I like to work – I do not thrive as a stay-at-home-mom. I thrive while working and making money. But it was very important to me to have flexibility to be home for my kids when they come home from school, and things like that. So I was able to make the best decisions for me and my family by starting my own businesses.
My Top Self-Care Activities
So you probably thought this episode about self care was going to be a list things you could do to take care of yourself. Take baths, read books, get a pedicure, or massage. Sure, all of those things are wonderful but only when your mindset behind them is that my sanity, my mental health is of utmost importance. The kids thrive when I THRIVE and not the other way around. So from that healthy mindset, you'll be able to make the best decisions for you. Now, it's hard to prioritize yourself if you are struggling with your self worth, so that's the main thing to focus on at first. And that'll be another topic for another episode coming up soon!
But for fun, I'll share with you a few things I do on a very regular basis to pour into myself. I find inspirational and motivational speakers on YouTube and listen to them while I wash dishes or clean bathrooms. I get filled up and hardly notice that I'm doing something I don't enjoy so much! I take baths almost nightly with Epsom Salts and essential oils – this relaxes me soooo much! I watch a show or video on my iPad while in the bath and just thoroughly enjoy myself. I got back into ballroom dance recently, which is one of my greatest loves, and that has been so good for me as a woman, to feel pretty and beautiful again. It's helped me to get back into shape and get my strength back after having babies.
I don't feel guilty to have a babysitter come over during the day 2-3 times a week so I can work. I used to feel guilty about that but now realize it's good for me, so therefore, it's good for my kids!
Self Care is a Mindset
So I hope this episode helped you to realize that self care is really a mindset and not a list of things to be done. Sure, you could add in some things that are special to you, but it's more about acknowledging your feelings, not judging yourself for the. Realizing your desires and dreams matter and to act on them. Mama, YOU ARE WORTH IT. Your sanity, your happiness, your contentment, if of utmost importance. When we thrive, our children thrive. Our husbands thrive. Take care of yourself first, and I promise you, the pieces all start falling into place.