Every May on Mother’s Day we take time to honor the mothers in our lives but how often do we take time to honor ourselves? In a noble effort to be the “best mom ever,” we very often lose sight of our true “self.” Twice a year, I run a workshop for mothers on self-care and one of the first things I tell moms in the group is that there is no greater gift to your family than your happiness. Children learn not by our words but by our actions. If we want our children to be happy, then we need to be a living example of happiness.
Here are some of the ways I have found to nurture myself so that I’m a happier, more peaceful mom:
Take a “mom’s day off” at least once a month. My family did not like this very much in the beginning but I did eventually train them not to call me 20 times a day. On my day off, I often take the BART into San Francisco to do whatever my heart desires. Sometimes I may go to Burke Williams for a massage, see a movie, or just wander around Westfield Mall.
Capture small moments of time throughout the day to rest, meditate or do yoga. Whatever it is that makes you feel refreshed. When we have so much on the schedule to get done, guilt can sometimes keep us from taking some much needed rest. I often meditate in the car while waiting to pick up my son. If you don’t know how to meditate, many classes are now offered and you can buy guided meditations on CD or download one off the Internet.
Take time to have lunch or coffee with a good friend who uplifts and inspires you.
Take up a hobby that you enjoy. I love scrapbooking as it allows me to connect with other moms with the same passion.
Register for a class or join a club for something that inspires you, such as photography, writing, or dance.
Occasionally pay to have the laundry done.
Pay to have the house cleaned on occasion. I have found this to be the most inexpensive marriage therapy yet.
Find or start a babysitting co-op or swap babysitting with a friend or family member so you can have time off for a manicure and pedicure.
Create and enforce a “off duty” time in your house. My kids now know to come to me before 8:30pm for any questions, concerns or requests. Once its 8:30pm, I’m officially off duty as a “mom” and either read, watch mindless television or catch up on emails. Sometimes, I even get a little extra sleep.
Take a “mini retreat” by going to a local massage kiosk to get an inexpensive chair massage and then treat yourself to lunch or dinner.
And for those really serious about investing in your self-care, take a weekend off. Last fall I took a personal silent retreat for a weekend. It was relaxing and peaceful. It was so nice to turn off the chaos in my life (in addition to be fed three cooked meals a day). I came back very rested, peaceful and centered.
Making yourself a priority among the busyness of motherhood can be challenging. If you find that you just can’t find time in your schedule for any of these suggestions, try looking at your schedule and your children’s to assess what can be paired back. Many years ago I did this with my two older children and I have to say it was one of the best things we ever did. It reduced stress and improved the quality of all our lives.
I recently read the book, Raising Happiness by Christine Carter, Ph.D. The author wrote, “I’ve found that a certain core of peace and centeredness is necessary before I can be engaged in raising happy, compassionate and confident children.” I agree with this. For you and for your children, take some time this Mother’s Day (and on a daily basis) to honor your true “self.” You deserve it.