You have to put on your oxygen mask first.
You can’t take care of your kids if you don’t take care of yourself.
Happy wife, happy life.
We hear it all the time, and we know, we know. We’re supposed to focus on ourselves. This practice has been lovingly dubbed self-care.
This is why it’s bullshit.
You’re a busy mom.
I don’t mean that you have a few errands to run or dinners to prep. You do EVERYTHING. Your body contained a squatter for 9 months, living off of you. Feeding off of you. If you breastfed after your baby was born, you continued to be a 24-hour diner, complete with a self-serve milkshake fountain.
You also became somehow responsible for helping another human relax, feel comforted, sleep. That sounds sweet and calming. It’s not. It’s super stressful.
Your brain became accosted by resident thoughts that were directed solely toward your child. They had to do with poop, food, your baby’s temperature, milestones.
In short, your mind was teeming with someone else’s entire nervous system. Somehow, it was up to you to figure out if your child should be pointing and smiling yet. And it was up to you to fix it.
You’re not taking care of yourself.
At some point, you get an inkling that you’re also supposed to be managing your own nervous system. Yes, that comprehensive part of your body that involves—I don’t know—everything. You realize that you’re no longer in control of your own brain, your own emotions, your own motor control. You are barely able to focus on preparing food for yourself or dealing with your own hygiene.
Self-care makes you human again.
In a well-meaning attempt to get back on the road to being human, someone tells you that you should practice more self-care. It’s all over the mommy groups. There are coaches out there that encourage you to do this.
So you make time for a manicure. You buy yourself luxury soap and actually use it in the shower. You go out for wine with the girls. Your partner lets you sleep in on Saturday.
You’re doing it. You somehow made time for yourself.
You stay stuck in the cycle.
But it’s not working. You still feel like you need a year-long vacation, and you wonder when it’s all going to feel easier. So you ditch the self-care and go back to your old ways.
And nothing really changes.
The problem with self-care is that it’s a Band-Aid. It’s a quick fix. Sure, you’ll get a moment to yourself. Of course, you’ll smell better when you’re done with that shower.
But if you don’t take it to the next level, you’ll simply end up being a very well-groomed mother who meditates sometimes and chugs lemon water as she yells at her kids and lives in a whirlwind of guilt, overwhelm and resentment.
Yes, you have to start somewhere.
When you’re trapped in the heavy cyclone of diapers, insecurity and a strained marriage, getting a 5-minute shower can seem like a gift from the heavens.
But if that’s all you focus on, that’s all you’re going to get.
At some point, you need to graduate.
Before you had kids, did you stress about taking your daily shower? Would you ever have thought twice about eating a meal because you were too busy making food for other people?
There’s this thing that mothers do that makes self-care seem to be the holy grail of fulfillment.
News flash: Showering, eating, brushing your teeth and taking a moment to yourself are normal things that humans are supposed to do automatically. They aren’t supposed to be these blissful goals for which you reward yourself when you achieve them.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t strive to get back to this sense of normalcy as a mother. In fact, you have to take baby steps, because going from where you are now to becoming that fulfilled, purposeful, happy woman that you know you can be would feel so daunting that you’d never even get out of bed if you didn’t start somewhere.
But once you’ve made time for self-care, you need to graduate. Instead of being the ultimate goal, self-care needs to be the norm.
Once it becomes habit, you can have fulfillment, purpose, balance and bliss in your life. You can start to realize that there is more to life and you can have it. You can begin to reemerge as the woman who has become transformed by motherhood instead of swallowed by it.
So take your self-care, but use it as a springboard. If you don’t, the most fulfilling thing in your life will be taking 20 minutes to check in on Facebook with a cup of tea. Isn’t there more to you than that?
Take self-care to the next level by making it FUN. Not sure how to do that? Here’s a FREE bundle that basically puts it in your lap. You’ll get a checklist for 11 ways to have more fun TODAY and affirmation cards to put around your house so that you don’t forget.