Self Care: Show Yourself Some Mother’s Day Love
Happy almost-Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! We are so grateful for everything you do, from the 4a.m. feedings to the 9p.m. pickups from gymnastics, soccer, hockey, music lessons. From worrying about the right pre-schools to worrying about the right colleges. From the never ending cycle of dishes to the never ending cycles of laundry. And of course all the scraped knees, bruised egos, and aching hearts you tend along the way. It’s a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week job, which you often do on top of your 5 days a week, 8 hours a day job.
It’s so easy, in the midst of all of that, to run out of time for yourself. Or to believe that other people deserve that time more than you do. “Self-care” can start to sound like a dirty word when one babe has a runny nose and the other is in the middle of a nasty fight with their best friend; who has time to drink lemon water and meditate when it’s been three days since you’ve managed to have an uninterrupted bathroom break?
But the thing is, if you keep tending to others non-stop and never stop to tend to yourself, you are going to burn out. It’s like on an airplane, when they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone with theirs, because you can’t help anyone if you’re passed out on the aisle. If you’re exhausted from not taking care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to provide very good care to your family. So let’s treat this Mother’s Day as a self-care New Year’s Eve. A time to make some resolutions, make some changes. Let’s commit to ourselves, and to self-care. Here are some quick, simple ways to get started.
When’s the last time you worked up a sweat that wasn’t from chasing the kids around the house? Been a while? Then it’s time to reintroduce the idea of intentional exercise into your life. You’ll have more energy, sleep better, and feel better about your body if you do.
Exercise can also be a great way to tap into old passions. Like, remember when you were 12 and loved ballet classes? They have those for adults! Same with soccer or swimming or bowling leagues. Getting your body going does not have to be about torturing yourself into a different weight or shape. It can be fun, fulfilling, a part of your week to look forward to.
And if you made a scoffing noise at the idea of scheduling a dance class into your already-overflowing week, what about a dance party in your living room with the kids? What about incorporating a family hike into your weekends? Opportunities for movement are everywhere, so get going.
Unfortunately, I’m not talking about red wine (though a glass or two could provide you with surprising health benefits). No, I’m talking about water. The stuff of life. The stuff that regulates our body temperature, keeps joints lubricated, keeps the digestive system functioning, and delivers nutrients to our cells.
If you’re not getting your full 8 glasses a day already, it’s time to think about why. Often the solution is to making water-drinking fun. Play around with the temperature (some people like it room temperature, some need it freezing cold with lots of ice), buy the water bottle of your dreams, try adding some slices of lemon, lime, or oranges to it for a hint of flavor.
“Create” doesn’t mean you have to be an artistic master. You don’t have to create anything for an exhibition or a performance. But if you are able to focus on the process in a non-judgemental way, being creative for creativity’s sake can be a great way to get back to that childlike wonder and sense of glee about what you’re doing.
This one is pretty easy to integrate into life with children, as well: is your four-year-old hunkered down with their coloring book? Hunker down right next to them with your own and get coloring! Are they taking piano lessons? Get your own easy music and remind yourself of what you learned at your own lessons when you were 12. Grab some modelling clay and see what whacky shapes you can make, learn a new song on the guitar or with your voice, cut pictures out of a magazine and stick them together on a new piece of paper in a way that pleases you.
And make sure to put your creation on the fridge when you’re done.
It’s easy to get so focused on family time that you forget to carve out time for your other relationships. But don’t you fall into that trap. Don’t you do it. If weekly date nights with your partner aren’t doable, have monthly ones. Join something that has a set group with set dates to keep you accountable and present (I’m thinking of a book club but really anything where a group agrees to get together on a regular basis will do). Pick one Saturday morning a month and get coffee with your friend group. Invite the neighbours over for a pizza dinner and set the kids up in front of a movie while the grownups attack the wine. Never underestimate the need to speak to other adults.
Remember when the baby was little and people told you, “sleep when the baby sleeps”? Why did you stop doing that? When did you decide that the best time to clean your entire house and prep a week’s worth of food was between the hours of 4 and 6 a.m.?
Okay, I understand the logic of getting things done in those few moments when you have the entire house blessedly quiet. But you need sleep. Alon Y. Avidan M.D., the Director of UCLA Sleep Disorders Center, told Parents magazine some of the problems you run into when you don’t get enough sleep. “”We know from research studies that chronic lack of sleep has adverse health consequences: people who consistently sleep less than six hours experience increased appetite, which causes weight gain and increases the risk of depression, cardiovascular disease, and Type 2 diabetes.”
To get the best shut eye you can, avoid food, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine in the hours before bed.
This may seem so simple that it doesn’t deserve to be written down, but deep, conscious breath is a crucial tool in the Keeping Calm toolbox. We’ve got a great list of breathing exercises on our blog post about flight anxiety (as well as some other stress-relieving ideas that are surprisingly relevant to daily life as a mother) but here’s a favorite:
The 4-7-8 Exercise: Sit up straight in your chair, and place your tongue just behind your top front teeth. Exhale all your breath completely through your mouth, making a “woosh” sound. Then close your mouth and inhale through your nose to a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale to a count of eight. This is one breath cycle. Repeat the cycle three more times.
That exercise is some very fine self-care; you can do it anywhere, any time, it takes about 30 seconds, and it works.
If you want to amp up a breath practice even more, consider incorporating a mantra. This is any short phrase you can repeat to yourself for grounding, optimism, or peace. Some ideas to get you started:
- Just be here
- Everything is as it should be
- Let it go
- I am my own best friend
Or if all else fails, go for the classic “Om”, which is representative of the first sound of the universe. You can’t get more grounded than that.
Add your own.
Of course, this is an incomplete list of self-care ideas. Basically, anything that makes you feel good or calm or grounded is the perfect thing to do, so you go on ahead and do it. And we want to help!
Here at Activation, we’re celebrating Mother’s Day with a sale of products that do as much as mothers do. We rounded up our hardest working superfoods and gave them a great discount so that you can take care of the person who takes care of everyone else.
Treat yourself this Mother’s Day with products that do as much as you do!
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