EVERYONE is throwing around the phrase “self-care” these days. On Instagram, #selfcare literally has over 35 million posts. Promoting the importance of self-care has become this whole movement. And it IS important, duh…we all need to be taking care of ourselves, right?!
But what does that look like for a mama? While Instagram TELLS us we need to be practicing self-care, in reality a lot of mamas are shamed or made to feel guilty if we really take that time to ourselves. I’m one of those mamas…I always feel guilty if I take some of the limited time I have with my baby to do something just for myself. But I’m working on that and I invite you to work on it with me!
WE DO NOT NEED TO FEEL GUILTY. Just because we are moms does not mean that we do not deserve to do something just for ourselves. The desire to want some time to yourself does NOT make you a bad mom. It makes you a GREAT mom. It means that you recognize what YOU need to fuel yourself in order to be the best mom you can be for your baby. An overexerted, overtired, had-it-up-to-here mom is NOT her best self. But we’ve all been there! And that is exactly why we need to take the time to decompress and re-energize ourselves when we deem necessary.
I remember the first time I went to go get my nails done after Mason was born. I was nursing 8-9 times a day and was running on about 2 hours of real sleep per day. One Sunday when Mason was about 4 weeks old, my husband told me to go get my nails done. I had been complaining about my nails looking tragic, but I felt SO weird leaving the baby to go do something so unnecessary. Somehow I got this idea in my head that I needed to be a martyr mom…as if you get some badge of honor for sleeping the least, breastfeeding the most, and doing nothing for yourself. But he all but pushed me out the door to go get my nails done. I went right after a feeding so I would be back before baby’s next feeding. AND IT FELT AMAZING. I felt super awkward at first without the baby because I hadn’t been without him since he was born, but just having about an hour and a half to do something nice for myself BY MYSELF gave me a boost!
On that note, please remind yourself that there are certain things that ARE NOT SELF-CARE…they are just BASIC HUMAN NEEDS. Taking a shower is not self-care. Going to the bathroom uninterrupted is not self-care. Eating and hydrating is not self-care. Going to the grocery store by yourself is not self-care. Those are just normal things humans do. But, if you are anything like me, you might have a weird voice in your head telling you to be a martyr mom. Tell that voice to shut up and that you have every right to cleanse yourself daily, brush your teeth, go to the bathroom, eat food, and drink water.
If you have been tricked into thinking those things are self-care or you’re so exhausted you can’t even think of a way to pamper yourself, let me share some of my personal favorites:
MANI + PEDI
ORANGETHEORY FITNESS (or whatever your favorite workout is!)
HAPPY HOUR + DINNER WITH A GIRLFRIEND
LAYING OUT AT THE POOL WITH A BOOK OR A PODCAST
FULL BODY MASSAGE
HAIR CUT + FRESH BALAYAGE (or whatever you love to do to your hair!)
SNUGGLING WITH MY DOG + BINGE WATCHING A NETFLIX SHOW
TAKING A NAP
Okay…so now that you’re loaded with ways to practice self-care, the question is HOW?! How does a mama fit in any time to actually do any of this stuff? Well, that part is not easy, mama. I won’t sugar coat it. This is going to look different for every family. Some mamas have family or close friends they can lean on for babysitting. Some might need to hire a babysitter in order to get some self-care time in. You might need to coordinate something with your partner in order to give each of you the time you need. But there IS a way. You just need to prioritize yourself and make realistic plans. For me, my husband and I have an understanding to just tell each other whenever we need some time to ourselves. With my husband being active duty Navy and us not living near any family, we don’t generally have the luxury of easy access to sitters on the fly. But it’s also hard to plan in advance with both of our crazy work schedules. The communication piece is what works for us. My husband’s job requires him to get underway or be on deployment frequently. During those times, I give myself a different version of self-care time on some nights after the baby goes to bed. Instead of just doing dishes, laundry, or whatever else needs to get done, I’ll take a night “off” and soak my feet in the tub with Epsom salts, drink a glass of wine, and put on a clarifying face mask. Then I snuggle with the pup and binge watch something on Netflix. The key here is to prioritize yourself, manage realistic expectations of what type of self-care you can give yourself, and get creative!
Comment below or DM me on Instagram to tell me your favorite self-care rituals and how you find the time to fit in self-care as a busy mama!