It's Time to Redefine Self-Care for the Sake of Our Mamas
For many mothers, self-care feels something like a cruel joke - a practice left only for those with ample amounts of time or extra money to invest in a massage or facial. Self-care often goes overlooked or reserved for rare moments when no one needs your attention.
Still, after the day is over and little ones are finally sleeping, self-care ends up at the bottom of the to-do list where it remains unchecked. Never feeling urgent or effective enough to complete.
For some, the term "self-care" itself can quickly bring to mind thoughts of pouring a glass of wine and enjoying a cupcake with a face slathered in an expensive skin cream. For others, maybe it's a shower or brushing your teeth before noon.
In this pandemic time, moms work hard to seek self-care because there's the hope of becoming a more present, happier person. Sadly, some are let down to find that the answer to transformational self-care doesn't exist in an expensive skin cream.
To support our mothers effectively and lovingly, we must begin to redefine the way we view self-care in our society today
Because, to be honest, we're currently doing our moms a significant disservice by pointing out all of the surface-level ways she can care for herself. Take a shower, use a face cream, and gua sha your worries away, you'll be okay! Your burnout will magically disappear.
See, self-care is a more profound practice than what we see on Instagram. It's not something to be added to a to-do list; it's an ever-evolving mindset and something that - when practiced correctly - is always available to you.
For example, if we redefine self-care from bubble baths to learning how to say No, mothers will begin to uncover the real empowerment that comes with creating a self-care practice. Once this has been established, there will no longer be a need to add self-care to a to-do list, as a genuinely good self-care practice will be the system that shapes a pending to-do list in the first place.
Curious to learn more? Below are three tips for creating sustainable and transformational self-care practices.
Say No and set healthy boundaries
Running short on time? Learning how to say No and set adequate boundaries in your life will not only clear up space on your calendar, but it's also a powerful form of self-care.
When we release the need to be a yes-woman, we give ourselves a chance to have more time (and money!) to spend where we want to most.
Take a look at your current calendar and see what commitments and responsibilities you can begin to decline or let go of. Sure, it might feel awkward and uncomfortable at first, but saying No should get more comfortable with time and practice. It's essential to remember that saying No to others does not make you a bad mom; it will empower you to become more present and grounded when you choose to show up.
Be vulnerable and ask others for help
Asking for help doesn't always come naturally, but being vulnerable and opening up when we need assistance is a powerful way to care for ourselves on a deep level.
Getting support from others can remind you that you're not alone and can help shoulder some of the invisible mental weight of motherhood. No one said that you have to take motherhood on all by yourself, so practice turning to those who can assist you in big and small ways.
Not only is asking others to help a form of mental self-care, but it also helps create more time for other self-care practices throughout your day.
Work on expressing and communicating emotions
Building on the last two tips, working on addressing emotions can empower you to move forward while making decisions supporting your overall health and well-being.
When you continually stuff down or neglect emotions, you may end up feeling even more tense or resentful than you did in the first place (source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hold-me-tight/201004/suppressing-emotions). Tuning into what you're feeling is an essential part of self-care. This practice can help you make actionable decisions based on what you truly need, not what you think you might need.
Final thoughts on redefining self-care
If we view self-care as an accessible tool rather than self-indulgent, the more supported and cared for mothers can feel. It’s when self-care is portrayed as a luxury and something that only happens on Sunday afternoons while the kids are napping, one can fall into the self-care trap that feels difficult to escape.
I believe that the more we support and encourage transformational self-care with our mamas, the stronger our current and future generations of mothers and children will become.
Meet the author
Carley Schweet is a self-care author and writer at carleyschweet.com. She’s passionate about redefining what self-care really means for mothers. Through her work, she hopes to inspire women to fill the gaps in their self-care practices with confidence and sustainability.She is the host of the You Time Podcast, and her work is featured on major media outlets such as FabFitFun, MindBodyGreen, Bustle, Hello Giggles, and Elite Daily. She is also the founder of Hello Postpartum, a free expert-created resource library for new moms. Connect with her on Instagram at @carley_schweet for more self-care inspiration.