As a mom, it can feel impossible to put yourself first. Life can get chaotic, so finding a moment to take care of yourself becomes a chore on the back burner.
Moreover, there is only so much time in a day and not enough time to get all the tasks completed. So how do you put yourself first?
Most importantly, how do you do it without feeling any guilt?
First, let’s address the elephant in the room…
Why do I struggle to put myself first?
Do you ever feel as though if you take a moment to pause, the house will burn down? No? Just me?
Well… I can tell you that I did for YEARS. From the moment I opened my eyes to the moment I crashed… Yes, crash. Going from 60 mph to 0 mph and crashing into a brick wall. I did this day in and day out for the longest time.
Because I refused to ever give myself a moment to breathe, my body found ways to do it for me.
Enter the medical issues that forced me to take a break. And since I had no idea how to slow down, I had full-blown panic attacks that would exacerbate the medical issues. It was a vicious cycle.
So why do YOU struggle to put yourself first?
I’m almost 100% positive that it is because you are too busy rushing around trying to please everyone else. As a result, you don’t even realize what you’re feeling. The rushing around distracts you from what you really need, so it becomes a deep issue.
But when do I put myself first?
Think about it this way… Putting yourself first means not neglecting your own basic needs. When you take care of yourself, you can take better care of others.
Ask yourself these questions.
Am I experiencing more breakdowns in my life?
Am I becoming less patient with my children?
Are tantrums (or outbursts) increasingly difficult to handle?
When was the last time I had a hot meal or enjoyed a cup of coffee? (or tea, whichever you prefer)
When was the last time I could actually enjoy a shower?
Do I REALLY feel like I need to take care of my kids (who I love so dearly) so much by sacrificing myself over and over?
Would it really be that bad to take 15 minutes for myself today?
If you answered “yes” to the last question, then you need to start putting yourself first now.
If it seems like it would be too hard, then ask yourself this: “Do I want to be able to take better care of my family?”
If you answered “yes,” then you are on the right path! Let’s follow the yellow-brick road!
Taking care of yourself allows you to feel more fulfilled. You can do the things you love (and don’t love so much) much better. And gifting yourself self-care is a gift to others as well.
When your needs are met, you start to feel good about yourself. You have an easier time helping others meet their needs. You also boost your overall quality of life.
So how do I start making self-care a priority?
One of the first steps is to be kind to yourself. Self-care = self-love.
The next step is to set healthy boundaries. Setting boundaries can be challenging to do, especially when you are used to pleasing others.
As women, we are hardwired to think that we should do everything ourselves. But that’s not true. You know the phrase, “It takes a village,” right? It’s a phrase used in relation to raising children. But it also extends to mom (that’s you), too.
Sometimes, all you need to do is ask for help. And trust me, it’s not complicated. Personally, I made it complicated because I over-thought it!
Here are some ways you can ask for the help you deserve while setting healthy boundaries.
Talk to your partner. Let them know you are burned out, tired, stressed, and need some you-time. Together, you can find ways to divide daily tasks that focus on taking care of your children and maintaining your home. This will allow you to have a moment to yourself. We’re looking for at least 15 minutes.
If you don’t have a partner to help you — or if you and your partner are stretched too thin — it may be time to outsource. Ask trusted friends or family to help you when you need an extra hand. Or hire a cleaning service to help around the house.
Talk to your children. Children -– younger and older -– can learn to take on responsibilities and help out. Be sure to discuss with them what you expect and how you expect them to do their part to help around the house. It is important to communicate with them about how when everyone chips in, mom is less-stressed and there is more time for fun!
Now, if you are a busy mom, consider some quick time-management tips.
Wake up early. When you wake up before your children, you can get some much-needed uninterrupted “you” time. You can meditate, exercise, plan out your day, or enjoy a hot cup of coffee!
Speaking of planning, make a simple to-do list. And I do mean simple. If you aren’t sure how to do this, start by brain-dumping every single thing you need to do. From feeding the dog to cooking dinner. Once you have your list, simply plug in what needs to be done, set aside what can wait, and roll with it.
Now that you have your list, it’s time to get things done. You can start by getting your least favorite tasks done first, or by doing your favorite tasks early in the day. Whichever floats your boat. The important thing is to not overdo it.
See what can be done online. Simplify your life by using the internet. Need to pay a bill? Need to order groceries? Need to set up an appointment? Need to order supplies for a craft project? You can do many things online.
And finally, what are some ways you can put yourself first?
Spend 15 minutes doing exactly what you want. We’ve talked about this already, but it’s worth mentioning.
Meditate. Meditation is a great way to tune into your emotions, reduce stress, and increase mindfulness.
Practice affirmations. Affirmations are different from meditations. Affirmations are when you declare or say something positive about yourself, like “I am worthy of self-love!”
Smile at yourself in the mirror. Smiling at yourself psychologically tricks your brain into releasing endorphins. Have you ever heard of smiling being contagious?
Physical exercise. At least 30 minutes a day can make the difference. You don’t have to hit the gym hard. Taking time to do yoga, take a walk, or play at the park with your children can go a long way.
Exercise your brain. Working on your brain improves your focus. You can do this by reading, journaling, or doing a crossword.
Try something new. Speaking of focus, trying something new is a great way to explore. Yes, being a mom is an adventure in itself, but making memories that stand out sounds like fun.
Practice what you’re skilled at. If you are a chef, try a new recipe. If you are an artist, try creating something. If you are athletic, go and play a sport.
Eat healthy. No self-care list is complete without being reminded to eat healthy. Finishing your toddler’s half eaten lunch doesn’t count. You need wholesome nutrition to keep yourself fueled and going.
Share gratitude. This can be as simple as making a note of all the things you’ve done well and achieved. Being grateful and showing gratitude are small ways of allowing yourself to reflect on the positive. It also allows you to celebrate small wins in your day… like taking those 15 minutes for yourself!
Enjoy nature. Getting away from technology for a little while is a great way to reset your circadian rhythm. This allows you to sleep better at night.
Enjoy time with friends. Your friends can be your biggest support system. You can arrange for playdates to spend time together, meet up for lunch, do some shopping, relax, or simply enjoy each other’s company.
Do something that the future you will thank you for. This can be very simple. You can clean the kitchen from the night before because entering a clean kitchen is a great way to start the day. Or you can set your washing machine to wash a load so that when you wake up, it’s ready for the dryer.
Pamper yourself. Another item a self-care list is not complete without. Enjoy a hot bath, favorite snack, or some extra sleep! It can be as simple or sensational as you like!
Unwind. Make your home a relaxing haven for you.
Create a self-care ritual. You can make this part of your routine. For example, you can wake up early and journal with a hot cup of coffee. Then you can read a chapter of a book after the children have gone to bed. You can grab yourself your favorite coffee drink every Tuesday and Friday. And you can make it a ritual to see your bestie for mani-pedis once a month.
Lastly, have fun! I find that being silly is the best form of self-care that fills my cup. You can have a dance party, enjoy a family game night, or watch a movie.
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