Busy Mom? 3 Easy Ways to Practice Self-Care
Being a mother is one of the greatest gifts in life. It is filled with joy and immeasurable love. However, let’s be honest here: it’s also exhausting, overwhelming and sometimes more frustrating and difficult than we imagined it would be. The kids are fighting, dinner needs to be made, the laundry hasn’t been folded in days, the baby needs a diaper change, the bills need to be paid, the dog needs to go out, you have a toddler pulling at your leg, and the list of things to do just keeps on getting bigger. Oh yeah, and then there’s you. Who, you might ask? You, the mom. You, the professional. You the entrepreneur. You, the wife. You, the friend. You. The one who regularly gets left off the to-do list.
Being a good mother requires us to be loving, nurturing, giving, kind and patient. These are traits, that despite the frenzy of daily life, we somehow manage to pull from our depths to offer our children. The question is, can we as moms offer those same traits to ourselves? As a mother and solo-preneur, I’ve learned the importance of self-care. And I also know how difficult it is to make it happen given the reality of life.
Why is it so difficult to make time for ourselves when we somehow manage to make time for everyone and everything else?
Probably because there are only 24 hours in the day and many of life’s other demands tend to scream much louder for your attention. “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” If we stop and listen, we might notice that there’s another squeaky wheel that’s been begging for our attention: our own.
When we begin to talk about self-care for moms, the issue of guilt often arises. So let’s call it out, like the big elephant in the room: as women, we tend to have an easier time sacrificing ourselves than taking care of ourselves. Most of us would rather drop from exhaustion than face the guilt of caring for our own needs. However, when Mom is depleted, the whole household suffers. And when you take care of yourself, you can better take care of others.
For many women, we hear and understand the importance of self-care. The issue isn’t knowing what we should do; the issue is the logistics of it all. How do you fit self-care into an already overflowing schedule? Who has the time, energy or money for spa days, date nights, yoga classes, gym memberships, meditation or new hobbies?
So what’s a busy mom to do? How do we make time for ourselves while caring for our families, careers and communities?
Here are some practical solutions for putting your self-care back on your to-do list without having to drastically alter your life. These wellness practices have had an amazing impact on my own health and well-being, as well as that of my family. They’re simple, practical and easy to implement into any busy mom’s lifestyle.
Begin your day when the world around you begins to awaken. Early morning is a special time of day, when you can best tune in to subtle energies. How we begin our day sets the tone for the rest of it. Waking up early allows for more time, more productivity and more leisure, making our days less stressful. Add a little TLC to your morning as you awaken and before you rise by practicing the following routine:
Lie on your back and place one hand on your heart and one hand on your low belly. Exhale deeply and sink into your body. Inhale the light of the day and imagine that light of love shining within you. Breathe in the words I am loved, supported and cared for and breathe out the words I love. Think of your spouse, partner, children and loved ones, and let that light of love expand within you and fill you.
Before you get out of bed, say to yourself, It’s going to be a good day! Starting your day like this will add intention and a sense direction to your day. We all struggle with the simple idea of loving ourselves as much as we love our children. When you take a moment to fill yourself with love and support first thing in the morning, you lower your stress levels and begin to tap into your own self-compassion.
“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” ~Thích Nhất Hạnh
This quote from Thích Nhất Hạnh reminds me to move through my days with more ease and more joy. As you move through your days, notice when you are feeling tense, tired, stressed, tight or contracted. At that moment, exhale deeply and soften into the moment. Allow your body and your mind to soften and release their grip. Smile gently at yourself, at the moment, at the word. Take a deep inhale through the nose to the count of five, and exhale deeply for a count of five, allowing your shoulders to drop, your jaw to loosen in a soft smile, and your body and mind to relax.
Regular breathing practices help to calm the body and still the mind. This simple breathing technique will center and ground you, helping you feel less stressed and more energized. Cultivate the habit of breathing intentionally and notice a sense of calm and ease begin to weave itself into the fabric of your days.
Secure Your Oxygen Mask First
In Ayurveda, oxygen in your blood is called “Jivana,” meaning life-giving. Oxygen in your cells is literally the fuel behind your goals and intentions. Securing your oxygen mask first means we make time for ourselves first thing in the morning. Depending on your current routine, this might mean taking a few conscious deep breaths in the morning. Or it might be a brisk walk around the block. For some, it might be stepping onto your yoga mat as a cue to start moving and breathing with intention. The important thing is to build a sense of wholeness and a lightness in your body as a practice into your daily routine.
So take your oxygen mask first thing in the morning. Commit to moving your breath intentionally and clearing your channels before breakfast, before the day can get away from you. Practicing in the morning will affect your entire day, allowing you to make better, more conscious choices.
What is the Hero's Journey?
When I was in my early 20s and my father was dying, a friend gave me a painting. It depicted a river wending its way through soft mountains, with a small sailboat in the distance floating down the river. It struck me at the time as a metaphor for my life. And I was left with the sense that our life is like the journey in a fairy tale, a small vessel following the currents, passing through different terrains, in search of what’s around the next corner. The river knows where it’s going, but we on the boat do not.
On this life journey, we are each discovering the geography of our own inner world. And yet, when we take a step back and look at it from a larger perspective, that geography, and our life journey, is not so different from the basic story that humankind has been playing out since the beginning. Birth. Separation. Initiation.
Return. This shows up in our own lifecycle, and then in the countless ways that we are called to leave what is familiar to us and venture into the unfamiliar. Each of us slaying inner dragons and facing outer obstacles, to be reborn in a new version of ourselves, more true to who we are.
This death and rebirth motif shows up in stories and myths all over the world; is at the heart of some of our great religions; and animates our most powerful films.
George Lucas, struggling for years to create a film his heart had been calling him to write, was able to finish the Star Wars story while reading Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a 1000 Faces, which lays out the basic bones of the human story. Just as the heroes and heroines in that saga overcome fear and attachment to the familiar and rise up to be of real service to the Universe, we are each doing the same thing in our own universe.
Each of us is rising above our self-imposed limitations and outer challenges to expand our sense of self and walk our path of destiny. Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey gave us a map to guide us, and signposts along the way, as we take our journey.