Love this newest Mother’s Day video from the Skit Guys!
As a mom, most of my waking hours – and some of my sleeping hours – are spent working or taking care of those I love. Working in an office or cooking and cleaning at home, sending emails and wiping dirty bottoms and runny noses, my days are not my own.
And I love it.
I love being a wife and mom. I love the messy joy, the sticky hugs and the wet kisses. I love planning meals and birthday parties. I don’t love the dishes and laundry, so if you know anyone who’d like to volunteer for those tasks, I’m all ears.
And yet, even with all the joy and fulfillment being a mom brings, I have needs to be met. Making time to care for oneself can seem impossible or selfish but in reality the value of “me time” is immeasurable. Because when I am in a healthy place – physically, emotionally and spiritually – I am best able to care for my family.
Here are five ways I’ve found for keeping the “me” in Mommeeee happy and healthy:
- Get dressed. Even on days I’m not going to the office, I try to get showered and dressed before my husband leaves for work. Starting my day off with a tiny bit of privacy – while he watches Reagan – and a lot of hot water sets the tone for a better day.
- Take a break. When possible, do something that you enjoy during nap time. For me this might include a short dance-workout via video, reading a good book or my Bible, taking a nap, trying out a new recipe or watching one of my favorite reality shows with a bowl of fresh popcorn (embarrassing confession – I’m a sucker for all things reality-tv).
- Make a plan. Schedule a weekly or monthly activity that gets you out of the house for some fun with other adults. Maybe a weekly Bible study, a monthly Bunco group, a Saturday hiking club or an every-other-week MOPS meeting. Whatever you find, commit to it.
- Set a date. No really, time away from the kids with your man on a regular basis is crucial to a great relationship and a happier, healthier you. So find a trusted family member or friend who can watch the kids for a couple hours while you and your guy reconnect.
- Invest in yourself. Even in the midst of parenting, you can continue to grow and develop the person God has created you to be. As your schedule allows, take an art class or dance lessons. Go to a writers’ conference or a weekend women’s retreat. Take an online class and work on your degree. Not only will you be growing but you’ll be modeling to your children a love for life-long learning.
And before you think I’ve got this me time thing down, let me reassure you: these are things I try to do. Some days I do well, other days it’s all I can manage to drag my weary body to bed at night. And that’s okay because I will have another chance to do better tomorrow.
How about you – what do you do to best care for yourself? How does taking care of your needs affect the way you are able to care for your family?
“Look at this,” I moan in disgust pinching a handful of stretch-marked, flabby skin from my mid-section. “Why do you even like me?” I ask J dejectedly, adding insult to injury as I place the value of my personhood on the perceived failings of my exterior.
“You had a baby,” he patiently soothes. “You are beautiful and wonderful, and a good Mommy.”
But I hear none of it. Too focused on the imperfections in the mirror. If I could just lose 20 pounds, then I’d be happy, I tell myself.
And I believe it.
I remember the first time my mom mentioned my weight to me. I was in 6th grade. She doesn’t remember, but I can vividly see us standing in the kitchen and my dad telling her she was silly, and that I looked great. A girl needs a dad like that.
It was silly, and that’s probably why my mom has forgotten the conversation. I was fit and healthy, and looking back now, just starting to add a few girlish curves. But I think it’s around that time that I started to realize my mom wasn’t happy with her body. After giving birth to my youngest brother – her third child – she’d struggled to lose the last 10 pounds of baby weight.
My mother was (and still is!) beautiful, vivacious and simply fabulous but I don’t think she always saw it. She was too focused on those 10 pounds.
And now, I’m repeating the cycle. So focused on my imperfections – so focused inwardly – that I sometimes miss out on the joy of just being me with the ones I love.
What would it look like for me to break the cycle before it reaches the next generation – to learn to appreciate my body so that I can teach Reagan to value hers? One thing I know, this change has to start now. Today. With me. Steve Maraboli wrote, “There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”
And so today, instead of focusing on the things my body isn’t and can’t do, I’m choosing to focus on the beauty of my body, the perfect imperfections. The stretch marks that grew as my body expanded to hold and nurture my precious baby. The round arms that offer comfort and hugs to family and friends in need. The pale legs that carry me out into the sunshine to work and make a difference in the world.
And as I focus on living a healthy lifestyle (because even as I learn to value my body, I want it to be healthier so I can do even more with it!), I want to teach my daughter to appreciate her own body and show her how to best take care of it.
Some days I will fail, but I pray that God will give me grace and help refocus my vision when it begins to settle on negative thoughts so that I can see myself the way he sees me.