Faster than a minivan ... responsible for life-changing decisions every day ... able to change diapers, pack lunches, do laundry and tend to everyone’s needs in a single breath ... Supermoms! They're moving at the speed of light, stressed out, sleep deprived, and over-scheduled beyond belief. But they also might be headed for a meltdown.
If doing it “all” — or at least trying to — is doing you in, it’s time to stop putting your own needs last and start taking care of yourself. Here are 4 steps to help you get started.
1. Get over the guilt.
Don't feel guilty for taking time for yourself. Redefine what it means to be a "good mother." Of course your children should be your priority, but who came up with the notion that your entire life needs to revolve around them? Instead of using society's definition, create your own measure of success as a parent. A good mother is not one who only sacrifices; a good mother is also able to give to herself. If you truly love and care about your children, which I’m sure you do, there’s nothing to feel guilty about when you take care of their mother. Give yourself permission to be more than half of a couple and more than "just" a mom.
2. Make yourself a priority.
It's not selfish to make yourself a priority — in fact, it’ll make you a better mother, wife and friend because you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. You simply can’t give away what you don’t have. People are much like bank accounts: If all you ever do is make withdrawals, you’re going to wind up with a zero balance and then a deficit. There comes a time when you have to learn to say, “No, I need time for myself.” Don't confuse the quality and quantity of your time with your kids; they simply aren't the same things. Focus on the impact that your time does have, so you can then give yourself the same attention you'd give to someone else you love. Don't do everything for your children. They are able to do some tasks on their own once you teach them how to do things for themselves. Consider delegating some of your tasks and learn to accept help without feeling guilty.
3. Discover your passions.
If you don't have passion and happiness in your own life, what kind of role model are you for your kids? No matter how busy you are, find something that you love to do. What gives you a sense of pride, accomplishment or enjoyment? Think back to when you last felt proud of what you had achieved or how you spent your time. Now, ask yourself: "What would it take to put that feeling back into my life? What can I do to recreate that feeling now?" When you've found your passion, make time for it in your schedule. Don't treat this "me time" as an option. It should be as important as anything else. You are your own person who’s worthy of self-care, nurturing, and living with passion.
4. Gain the support of your family.
This isn't always easy, but it can be done. Let your family know how and why you need to do things for yourself — so that you can be a better mom and wife. Compromise with your family about when they need you most and assure them you’ll continue to be there for them – just not 100% of the time. Help them to understand that while things may change, you won't be abandoning them. But since you’re the only mother they have, it’s imperative that you do some maintenance and self-care.
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