As mothers, we are tasked with countless responsibilities. The modern woman is often balancing parenthood, career, relationships, and more. Additionally, we face pressure to emulate an unrealistic image of motherhood, one that we see on diaper boxes and baby commercials. Those imaginary women are able to do it all—flawlessly, and with perfect hair. Many of us, perhaps unknowingly, absorb this expectation and hold ourselves to that standard. The problem? It is unachievable.
When we set our bar at an unattainable height, we will undoubtedly fall short. The result is a hearty dose of mom-guilt with an extra side of shame. When we combine these feelings with all of our motherhood duties, it is no surprise that many women feel depleted. While juggling obligations, it can be challenging to find the time or resources to recharge ourselves. Furthermore, in the throes of mom-guilt, it is easy to feel undeserving of self-care. Many women believe that, by caring for themselves, they are taking something away from their families. This could not be further from the truth.
In order to meet the needs of others, our own needs must also be met. An empty well cannot yield water. Practicing self-care is not an act of selfishness; it is a necessity. We must remember that we are not prioritizing our wellness above our families. We are prioritizing our wellness for our families. Self-care allows us to be the best versions of ourselves – for us and for those we love.
Rest assured that self-care is not only spa days and manicures, as lovely as those can be. Simple daily practices and adjustments to our perspectives may also serve as self-care. Wellness does not need to feel like one more task on an already overwhelming to-do list.
Below are self-care strategies for busy moms that require little-to-no time and do not cost a dime!
Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a practice that teaches us to focus our attention on the present moment. Rather than ruminating over the past or planning for the future, we learn to tune into what is happening right now. Meditation has also been associated with reduced stress and anxiety. This is a practical strategy for overbooked moms, who can dedicate as much or as little time as they have available. Positive results may be achieved in only a few minutes a day.
Let Go of Perfectionism
Some of us are perfectionists by nature and others have learned this tendency through social pressures. Regardless of how we adopted perfectionism, it is important to recognize that it is unhealthy for us. When we set unachievable expectations, we are destined to fail. One of the most caring things we can do is allow ourselves to experience success. This is crucial to our emotional wellbeing, and can only be achieved when we let go of perfectionism. There is no such thing as a perfect mother.
As busy parents, rest can feel elusive. While there are times when exhaustion is out of our control, there are other times when we have a choice. For instance, when the baby is finally napping, we can choose to do the dishes and respond to work e-mails, or we can choose to give ourselves a break. While most of us would like for our homes to be immaculate and to be voted employees-of-the-year, we must realize that these are not necessities. Rest, on the other hand, is. Our children will benefit more from a healthy, replenished mother than from a fresh batch of laundry. Recharging may not always be an option but, when it is, take it.
In this day of social media, we have innumerable opportunities to compare ourselves to others. With the click of a button, we have access the lives of everyone we know. We may see our mom friends baking homemade bread, hand-sewing Halloween costumes, or running the school fundraiser, and suddenly feel inadequate. Remember that these are only some of their moments, and likely the best ones. Very few people share their darkest moments. Stop comparing your worst to someone else’s best. Social media is not reality and motherhood is not a competition.
Motherhood can be beautiful, but it can also be lonely. That sense of isolation is frequently rooted in a lack of honesty about parenthood challenges. Because discussions of motherhood are often censored, it can feel that we are the only ones struggling. We change this by being unedited and truthful when sharing our experiences. Honesty fosters meaningful relationships and helps us to build the villages we so desperately need. Authentic connections are imperative to our wellness and are only developed through honesty. Allow yourself to have those genuine support systems.
Ashley Abeles is an Early Childhood Educator, mama to a 1-year-old, and blogs at Muffin Man’s Mama.