Before becoming a mom, I would sometimes hear women say “I’m a better mom when I take care of me” and think to myself "how selfish is that?" The whole point of becoming a parent is that you put your children’s needs first. Not your own. Now that I am a mother of three, I can tell you undoubtedly that it’s true. You are a much better mother when you take care of you.
For the first year of my children’s lives I didn’t do much taking care of me. I had triplets so my hands were three times as full. I spent almost every waking moment of my children’s lives with them. For a while, this routine worked for me and even gave me a sense of pride. After all, I was a hands-on mom. Over time, though, this new life of mine began to eat away at me because the person I once was, a New York City lawyer chick, no longer existed. I had become a stay at home mom and my focus was entirely on my kids. Gone were my professional and social life. I even stopped getting my hair done and buying new clothes. What would be the point when I rarely left the apartment?
So one day, there I was sitting in a Mommy and Me class singing “Gymbo The Clown…” and it hit me. I needed more for myself. I also realized in that moment that while my children needed me to be there with them they also needed me to be happy while doing it. They also needed to see from me what happy life looks like. I can only do that by making myself happy first.
So I started making more time for me. I made time for my physical appearance by going shopping and making regular hair appointments. It may sound vain to some, but taking care of your appearance is important for your self-esteem and the health of your relationship.
I also made time for laughter by spending time with my friends. More importantly, I made time for quiet moments so I could reflect on my life, not on my children’s lives or on my husband’s. Doing so made me realize that I missed my work as an attorney and I missed expressing myself. So I took to my love of writing and my children and launched my parenting blog.
Making time for my needs made me a happier person and a happier mom. It also helped me to be more patient with my kids during moments of stress. These days I am still a hands on mom but I smile more and laugh more because of the time I spend away from my kids. I also enjoy my life as a mom more fully because of it. Now the time I spend with my kids is less about stress and more fun with absolutely no regrets.
Here are my five tips for taking care of mommy:
1. Recruit friends and family to help with kids, it’s not only good for you, but it’s good for them too. According to a recent study, kids who spend more time with extended family are happier and better adjusted so it’s a win win for everyone.
2. Make monthly appointments for mani/pedis/blowouts and honor these commitments. They are important for your self-esteem.
3. Start a bi-monthly girls night out with the ladies with fellow moms AND your single girlfriends.
4. Make time to exercise at least once a week. Studies show that exercise is important for physical and emotional well-being. It also makes you better able to handle stress!
5. Take a long walk at least once a week without your iPod just to hear yourself think. Staying in touch with thoughts is important for your personal growth and development.