Let’s be real: being a mom is hard. It's twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and three hundred and sixty five days a year. Aside from the hundreds of things moms are monitoring and navigating, one of the more challenging aspects is finding the time and energy to continue taking care of oneself amidst the chaos.
I’ll be honest with you. I am still very much figuring out how to practice self-care while also raising two very small children. Much of what I have learned over the past 27 months has come from failure. After my first son, now two, was born, taking care of myself was a bit easier. I experienced a lot of trial and error, of course, but I also enjoyed lots of support. After the birth of my second son, who recently turned ten months old, getting back on track while also returning to work became what seemed like an impossible feat.
However, once I began to abide by the protocols below, it was easier not only to find the time to care for myself but also to feel less guilt.
Spending time reevaluating priorities can be an extremely impactful exercise. Children create a massive shift in many ways and inevitably, values and priorities may change; after all, there are little humans to raise. The amount of time dedicated to the gym and meal prepping before children may no longer be feasible after children. And that is okay!
For me, training two hours a day, four days a week, for seven-plus years was the norm before children. Now my goal is to work out two to three times a week for no longer than an hour. Aside from training, my new outlook on staying active looks a bit different: taking the kids on wagon walks as well as running up and down the stairs about a hundred times a day—the toll (or opportunity!) of living in a two-story house. I had to change my definition of exercise in a way that supported my new lifestyle.
As for nutrition, cooking meals that are less time-consuming, and buying Kevin’s paleo meals, poke bowls from HEB, and an air fryer have made life much easier. These conveniences have become staples in our house.
Can’t pour from an empty cup
Self-care is an extremely broad subject and looks different for each individual. Sleep, nutrition, movement, sunlight, and hydration are among a few key components of replenishing oneself in a way that allows moms (or any dominant caregiver) to show up in a positive manner for their children.
If you're anything like me, a poor night’s sleep and low water intake can make a huge difference in how productive and patient I am throughout the day.
Those are just two examples as to why it is essential to ensure caregivers are prioritizing their own well-being. If you are depleted, exhausted, rundown, and running on low energy, it will be impossible for you to be the best version of yourself for your children.
It is not selfish to take care of yourself, it is critical!
You can’t do it all alone
It is imperative to have a support system. Learning how to ask for help, accept help, and communicate your needs will make it easier for you to care for yourself.
Your support system can be your partner, a best friend, your immediate or extended family, etc.
First, it’s necessary to gain a deeper understanding of how each person can support you and what that looks like. For me, my husband supports me in the morning by laying out my supplements and making me breakfast to ensure that I have a well-balanced meal to start the day! He is also adept at going grocery shopping and grilling meat in bulk. My in-laws take my oldest son for a full day once a week, and I have a sitter, too, so I can have time to work, make appointments, and train.
If you are an expectant mom, I would suggest becoming proactive. Start developing a deeper understanding of who your support system is now and how you will need them to show up for you. You will feel so much more equipped to care for yourself knowing you have a supportive team on your side!
Utilize a calendar
Between feeding tiny humans, changing diapers, cleaning endless amounts of dishes, ensuring your kiddos are entertained and learning, folding the laundry, cooking food, cleaning up constantly and keeping them safe, it can be easy to put yourself on hold.
When I don’t put something on the calendar, it will easily get pushed aside until I realize it’s been six hours since my last meal or the week is over and I haven’t completed a workout. Yes, true story!
Things to add to your calendar are when to feed your children, when to feed yourself, when to work out, cook food, grocery shop, even meet a friend. It seems obvious but keeping a calendar is probably one of the most important tips in order to prioritize yourself as a new mom.
Utilizing to-do lists is also extremely helpful as it can feel like there are a million things to do and no time to do it. Lists can be a great way to compartmentalize what actually needs to be completed and the order of importance in which they should be done. This is an effective way to clear up headspace and decrease the sense of overwhelm…yet another important aspect of motherhood that will allow you to show up in a positive way for your children.
There are so many articles out there that tell moms what to do to care for themselves but there aren’t many on how to do it. What does prioritizing yourself as a mom look like? The answer to that lies in your own values and priorities. Once that is defined—and refined, it will be easy to know what needs to be done. I hope this article can help you ensure those things get done in a way that feels easier to execute. As moms, we have to set ourselves up for success by understanding our priorities, finding a support system, utilizing a calendar, and filling up our cup so that we can nourish others, specifically our children.
If it has been challenging to get back on track after having children, please reach out to a Central Athlete coach today. We meet you where you are and help you with strategies that are doable to ensure you are moving positively in the direction you want to go.