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.
Sacred Relationships: Beyond Love and Valentine’s Day
Years ago, I taught a class that ended at 9 PM. One night after class, I stopped by a grocery store to buy a couple of items. It was the night before Valentine’s Day and what I saw startled me, but more than that, it made me sad.
Many grocery stores put the greeting card aisle smack dab in the front. Impulse buying is a big part of modern society and very little is as impulsive as buying a greeting card the night before Valentine’s Day. Entering the card aisle isn’t for the meek. An air of tension and fear immediately becomes evident. I always imagine a herd of gazelles, nervously drinking at a waterhole in the middle of lion country. There may not be lions here, but there’s a very real predator, namely, one’s own insecurities regarding love and romance.
Grown men whimper as they desperately search for the perfect card that proves their love, hopefully without offending the recipient. Generations of insidious marketing tactics have convinced most of us that we have neither the time nor the talent, to express ourselves from our hearts, so we pay someone else to do it for us. On more than one occasion, while standing in front of hundreds of homogenized cards, none of them saying what I actually felt, I swore never to stand there again. I came to loathe Valentine’s Day and everything it stood for. I wasn’t alone.
How did a celebration of romantic love and commitment come to mean despair for so many? Certainly, greeting card companies have had a lot to do with this phenomenon, but it really isn’t that simple. Perhaps it has more to do with our insistence at quantifying, institutionalizing, and monetizing something as indefinable, ephemeral, and sacred as love.
The media bullies us into buying diamonds, flowers, new cars, and boxes of chocolates, or risk being labeled as a bad partner. The irony behind all this is that when love is genuine and certain, no tokens are necessary, because hearts communicate to each other in a language as ancient as humanity itself. This is the basis of a Sacred Relationship. Such connections are pure and without conditions implied.
Our ancestors spoke this language fluently and without hesitation. They found no shame in expressing what was within them. Love wasn’t considered a weakness. Rather, it was looked upon as a blessing, a gift bestowed by the Divine as a sacred duty, rite, and gift.
What would the world be without romantic love? It would be inhuman and horribly dull.
Sacred Relationships are the basis of what we think of when true love is expressed. The connection of two souls, united in purpose, is the Alchemical merging of hearts, minds and incarnations. The fiery furnace of passion is the smelter for those who come together to unite as one Sacred Couple, individuals united by the Divine imperative.
Love is a constant, a thread that connects the human experience throughout the ages, like beads of a Mala. It weaves its way through every aspect of our existence, and links us to our ancestors and to those who will follow us on this lovely planet.