Happy Mothers Day!
The celebration of Mother’s Day serves as a good reminder to give a little extra thanks and acknowledgment for all the extraordinary work Moms do.
Unfortunately, it’s only one day out of a whopping 365 days in the whole year. So, what about the rest of the time?
Sadly, many of my mama friends don’t include a little self-love and tenderness into their lives on a regular basis.
As a Mama and registered nurse, I have to confess I am guilty of working myself to the core without giving it a second thought. Besides, aren’t Moms (and nurses) supposed to be selfless creatures who put the needs of all others before their own?
Well, no obviously (that was a rhetorical question, duh). But many of us have that false belief etched inside of our brains.
Sometimes as an RN I feel like a Mom to many of my patients. I’m putting their needs before my own for 12 straight hours. I endlessly hold my pee (I actually gave myself a bladder infection about a month ago). Often I work to a point of angry hunger. My heels are usually burning at the end of my shift.
Then when I’m at home, I want to spend all of my time with my daughter, despite sheer exhaustion from my workdays. What is a Mom supposed to do when there is not a lot of opportunity for self-care?
I don’t like getting childcare unless I have to be at work or my husband and I have a date night. Not because I feel guilty or can’t afford it, but because I really don’t want to.
I love being Mom. My little lady has the most contagious giggle… the most excited expressions every time she sees a “doggie”… the loudest, ear-piercing scream when she’s gone past her tired threshold (OK, so I don’t love that part, but I do love the bear hugs she gives when she’s getting sleepy, they are the best!).
My point is, being a Mom means giving more of myself than I ever thought I could ever give another human. Motherhood forces me to face fears I never even knew existed (some pretty crazy things run through my mind at times).
Moms need to make self care a priority.
But I, like all Moms, am grateful to do it, even on the hardest of days.
But… and there and there is a BIG but…
Who’s supposed to take care of Mom?
Well… Mom does.
That the thing about being a Mom. The person who knows best how to take care of Mom is Mom.
The only person who can really make sure all your needs are being met is YOU, Mom.
The only person who can know that a bubble bath and a cup of tea (or wine) is exactly what you need after a long day of managing to keep tiny humans safe and alive, is… yes you guessed it.. Mom!
That’s because we are wise, multitasking superheros, capable of managing our own and other’s needs. We are the most magnificent, intelligent, masters of life! (maybe a wee bit of an exaggeration, but it’s Mother’s Day so humor me!).
If we don’t give self-care to ourselves, then it’s impossible to be what our kiddos need us to be.
That is the greatest part! We have the absolute best reason to give ourselves all the care and love we need. Because our children benefit from the mature, wise decision we make as Moms to care for ourselves so we can continue to keep the earth rotating around the sun. Also because when Mom is out of commission, things fall apart.
The Mom guide to self-care 365 days a year:
1. Keep moving.
I am a fierce lover of my yoga practice. Unfortunately, since my daughter’s birth it has become increasingly more and more difficult to get to my favorite yoga studio in Manhattan Beach, The Green Yogi.
After months of agonizing frustration due to not making it to classes, I finally arrived at the perfect solution: The Green Yogi Online! My studio offers dozens of yoga practices online for only 15$ a month. This way I can practice yoga at home at any time of the day for as long or short as I want with my favorite instructors.
Sometimes it may only 10 be minutes of Zen yoga. But any amount is better than nothing!
Seriously whoever came up with this idea is a freaking genius. I have no more excuses because I literally have my yoga practice at my fingertips. Its a lifesaver, I tell you.
2. Sleep, Sister.
Sleep is essential for life. That extra episode of television is not worth the agony of next day exhaustion. Browsing through a cell phone before bed will actually make it harder to fall asleep and will disrupt the quality of your sleep. Without sleep, you go completely insane. There is a reason sleep deprivation is used as a torture method.
I try to get into bed around 9 pm and be asleep by 9:30-9:45. It doesn’t always work out that way, but I feel so much better when it does.
3. Take a relaxing bath.
For me, taking a bath is like flipping an internal switch from action Mom to Zen Mom. No matter how crazy the day is I can turn it off with a bath. I add a few essentials oils and bath salts and voila! It’s a makeshift spa session. If I can do this 1 time per week after I per my daughter down, it helps a lot.
4. Nourish your temple.
Eat whole, organic foods, including many plants. There is no secret diet menu, what the billion-dollar diet industry is telling you.
I try to make a hot, antioxidant-rich turmeric tea every day if I can. You can read more about the health benefits of turmeric and find my recipe here:
I have a 95-5 rule. If I am really good to myself 95% of the time (i.e. exercise, eat healthy, meditate, do yoga) then I can relax and not worry about it the other 5% of the time (have some wine, yummy dessert, chill). Some weeks it’s closer to a 90-10 rule, and less frequently a special occasion may be closer to an 85-15 rule (Mom needs to have a little fun sometimes too!).
My point: The occasional indulgence is a nice thing so long as you treat your body good on the regular!
We can’t expect our kids to eat well if we don’t. We are responsible for teaching our children healthy habits from a young age so that they grow up with the nourishment they need to grow, learn, and be amazing humans.
5. Get off social media.
I stopped using social media for one week and had a lot of really great benefits as a result.
Stop comparing your life to others. By decreasing your use of social media you will be left with significantly less distraction and be more present in more important daily activities.
Social media is not a real representation of what is going on in people’s lives. It is a magnification of what people want you to see: slivers of primarily positive information that appears flawless, effortless and often like never-ending, spontaneous fun (don’t we all want to project the best parts of ourselves). Its also full of marketing, branding and sales gimmicks nowadays too.
Take the time that social media is stealing from you and apply it directly into being engaged in the most important stuff. Like spending uninterrupted time with your family.
6. Just say no.
Give yourself permission to prioritize the things that are most important to you. Mom’s needs come before getting every little chore completed. The laundry can wait until tomorrow if needed. The toys aren’t doing any permanent damage by laying on the floor a little longer. No one is going to die.
Sometimes when I put my daughter down for a nap I have the intention of getting several chores out of the way. But I end of taking a nap myself instead. Guess what, I feel so much better!
It’s impossible to do every little thing. At some point we just have to say no. No apologies, just no.
7. Meditate and have gratitude.
I found a resource that has completely revolutionized my meditation practice. It’s called Headspace and it is an app that helps to make meditation more attainable for busy people. Read more about my experience with this app here.
Headspace has dozens of different meditations each lasting from 10 minutes to 1 hour. So I really don’t have an excuse that I don’t have time, because 10 minutes is all I need. This app is genius.
Take good care of yourself, Moms!
Additional recommended reading: Simple Mom Self-Care Goals You Need Now
When you have your health, you have everything.
My experiences as a nurse have taught me that having good health makes you the richest person in the world. On another hand, being ill makes life seem poor even if you are monetarily wealthy. It’s too bad you can’t buy your way out of an illness.
I deplore being sick. For me, illness goes something like this:
One day I’m feeling great! Then the next I wake up feeling achy and lethargic. A scratchy, sore throats kicks in and swallowing makes my throat feel like sandpaper. Everything hurts. I feel like dying. Life sucks. The end.
Just kidding. I’m not that dramatic. I’m just trying to make a point, but for the record I personally do not handle being sick well. Luckily, I rarely get sick (knock on wood!).
Recently, I received news that I was selected to ‘master in’ as a Resource Nurse in the Emergency Room. It is a 3 month in-unit training program that includes an additional 50 hours of classroom training and testing. After completion of the program I will officially be an ER nurse. Yay!
I am ecstatic about the opportunity for emergency and critical care training as it will build my skill set and hopefully make me a better nurse. Additionally, I will have to be trained in pediatrics which is a whole new specialty for me. I am excited about that too, but the Mom in me is a little nervous about seeing kids in pain or any kind of suffering.
As part of my preparation for training this week I completed a Pediatric Advanced Life Support Certification course and shadowed a Pediatric nurse for a 12-hour shift. While I am still very far from being competent in Pediatric nursing, it was an informative opportunity to be exposed to the kinds of things Pediatric nurses do on a day to day basis.
There is one overwhelming thought that has stayed with me since my experience working on a Pediatric Unit:
I am so grateful that my child is healthy.
We are lucky to live in a world where there are so many medical professionals who dedicate their lives towards helping sick children (and all people of course, but for the purpose of this post I am talking about Pediatrics). Working with very ill or injured children is challenging and emotionally draining. Yet the nurses I shadowed on the Pediatric unit are happy to be there. Most importantly, they are competent and knowledgeable.
Pediatric nurse training reinforced my gratitude for having a healthy child.
Up until now my nursing career has involved working with adult patients 18 and older. The shifts can be exhausting to say the least. At the end of my 12 hours I am often too tired and emotionally drained to even think about talking about many of the sad and difficult situations that unfortunately occur. Its often easier just to block it out of my head and move on.
Soon the ER will be my new place of work and my new job description will include children and even babies. There will be situations that are critical and possibly catastrophic. As a Mom (and obsessive lover of small humans) I will have a lot of adjusting to do in this new area.
Practicing gratitude is so important (especially for the gift of healthy children!)
When life gets busy it is easy to take a child’s health for granted. You assume they will be healthy because they have always been healthy.
Gratitude for the opportunity to be a Mama.
Between all the cooking, cleaning, working, errands, play dates, and (fill in the space here) time slips away and it is so easy to forget to focus on the magnificent joy of having a child who is free from illness or injury. The only time people often think about health is when it is no longer there.
Gratitude is just a way parents can pay attention to the gift of good health today. No one can predict what will happen tomorrow so you might as well live in the moment!
Imagine that your child was sick and had to be in the hospital for an extended period of time. Or worse, if they were in an accident or received a devastating life threatening prognosis.
I have never experienced any of these scenarios myself. But I imagine they would probably be the hardest thing I would ever have to deal with as a parent. In my years as a nurse, I have seen a lot of families at the hospital in similar situations. I’m not sure where they find their strength and I’m sure in those moments they take nothing for granted.
Gratitude keeps us grounded and in the present moment.
Gratitude allows for positive energy to permeate in the NOW and not stuck in an annoying situation that has passed.
It’s important to understand the difference between normal difficult life situations and the kind of catastrophic situations that occur when your child is sick or injured. 99% of the negativity in our daily lives as parents isn’t really as bad as we make in in our minds if you really think how many good things are happening.
Hanging out with other Moms is like therapy for me. Venting to an extend is important. We get to talk about frustrations and experiences while surrounding ourselves with like-minded people who have the same interests: our children.
I have gratitude for a healthy baby.
But too often gratitude is not present in many of these conversations and they can easily turn into a pessimistic venting session of who has it worse. I have heard many conversations with parents comparing their gloomy situations with other parents. Negativity is contagious. Next thing you know you are hyper-focused on the negative and completely overlooking the awesomeness of being a parent in the first place!
Gratitude puts child-rearing challenges and perceived annoyances into perspective.
Not everyone gets to have a healthy child, or even a child at all for that matter. Being a parent is a privilege.
There are parents who practically live at the hospital for weeks, months even years at a time because their child is sick. A ‘normal’ crazy busy day with their child at home would be the best gift in the world.
So when a child is being difficult it is important to remember that we are lucky enough to have healthy children to discipline in the first place. Not everyone gets that opportunity.
Here are a few ways to practice gratitude for continued good health!
1. Keep a gratitude journal
Intentionally choose gratitude. Writing down what you are grateful for consciously reminds you that even though parenthood is frustrating at times, the good stuff far outweighs the bad. It keeps you aligned with the positive aspects of parenthood that we should keep our energy focused on (like watching my kid have fun watching and playing with other kids).
2. Watch the language (internally and externally)
What you say and think becomes reality. In other words, if you think life sucks, then it does. That becomes your truth. Gratitude can also become your truth if you make it a habit.
Kids are sensitive and pick up on attitudes and the words coming out of their parents mouths. Fortunately, gratitude is also contagious!
Or meditate or have a positive mantra, whatever works for you. The point is to essentially say “thank you” and bring awareness to the positive aspects of parenthood. Meditation is my thing and it works for me every time. Especially as my daughter, Zoe becomes more independent and adorably (and sometimes frustratingly) sassy.
4. Take care of yourself!
Its hard to practice gratitude when you are too exhausted all the time. You know how when you are on an airplane and they say in an emergency that you need to put the mask on yourself first, then assist your children? Its pretty much the same thing here.
When your basic needs are being met it is so much easier to be grateful for the other miracles in your life. So be nice to yourself.
Parenthood is a glorious, overwhelming and at times maddening thing and I am glad I’m in the thick of it. Zoe brings 1000 new levels of joy that I never knew existed prior to parenthood. I am so lucky that I can bask in gratitude that right now my child is healthy and happy and her parents are too.
Sarah, Mother Nurse Love