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Self care is becoming a pretty trendy catch phrase these days, and with good reason. Self-care matters, but too often it is overlooked or over-indulged in. Neither extreme is healthy. Self care for the busy mom is too important for her to let go of, but taking it too far can be detrimental to all involved.
So how does one balance being a wife and a mother fully dedicated to her family, and yet also take the time for self care? Well, I’ll tell you I’m not an expert here, but it’s something I’m working through and beginning to prioritize more these days, with the full support of my husband and children. Even they see the importance of it.
Why I Struggle With Self Care
I’m a pretty selfish person.
There, I said it. And it’s true. If I don’t watch myself, I have a tendency to take things like self care and personal time to the extreme. I can stop after just a few bites of chocolate cake, no problem. But stopping after sneaking in one chapter of a good book for some quiet time? Not likely. So I keep a tight reign on myself (most of the time) in this area, and tend to limit my indulgences.
But also, I struggle with the balance of loving myself and dying to myself. I want to lay down myself for my children. I want to love them beautifully, and not be so focused on “me time” that I forget that God has given them to me as my primary ministry and purpose in this season. I don’t want to worry so much about myself that I forget to be a helpmeet for my husband.
Why Self Care is Important
We’ve all heard the analogy of being on an airplane during a time of crisis and putting on our own oxygen mask before helping others. This applies to self care, sweet momma. Have you ever had one of those days where you’re standing in the middle of a messy room with a toddler clinging to your leg and wailing at top volume, and all you wanted to do was run away? No? It must just be me then. But pretend for just a moment you know what I’m talking about, okay?
That moment when you think, “I can’t do this for one more minute” is a pivotal moment. If you were in a movie, there’d be some sort of music building up tension as you decide whether to stay or to run for your life. And how often you get there is a reflection of how often you take the time to tend to yourself. Self care matters.
Self care is one line of defense against mommy burn out. It’s like going to the gym and working out regularly. You increase your stamina and build up your muscles. Well, when a momma gives herself intentional self care, she is stronger when those heavy moments hit and she can carry on.
What is Self Care?
When God created humankind, He made us in His image. We are physical, emotional, and spiritual beings and we need to take care of all elements. Self care means treating yourself well; it isn’t making yourself more important than others, but it often means making yourself as important as others. When God commanded us to love our neighbor as we love ourself, it was understood that we actually do love ourself. Self care matters, sweet friend.
Self care is simply identifying your needs and meeting them. Personally, for me, it means taking the time to exercise several times a week and supplementing my body with what it needs to be healthy to take care of my physical man. It also means taking a few minutes at the start of each day to take a deep breath, read the Bible, and pray. I go to church on Sundays, and get together with friends who challenge and encourage me once or twice a month because they inspire me to love God more deeply. These things take care of my physical and spiritual self care aspects.
Too often, though, I let my emotional self care sit to the side because I just forget about it. However, I’m learning how important it is for me. Self care doesn’t have to be complex. It can be as simple as a 15 minute recharge in the middle of each day, drinking a cup of peppermint tea in my favorite mug, sitting in a chair in the back yard with a good book, or coloring. All of these things help re-charge my introverted self. A more extroverted person might view a gathering with friends as a form of emotional self care.
Simple Ways to Care for Yourself
When we tend to our physical, spiritual, and emotional well being, we are better equipped to love our husbands, our children, and our community well. Being soul weary or physically run down or emotionally spent isn’t healthy. But really, how do you fit in self care when your life is already full? Here are some ideas:
- Make sure you have quiet time each day. If you’re a busy mama and that sounds laughable, this post has some simple ways to make it happen.
- Eat Well and Exercise a few times a week. Even if you’re not seeing the results you want, doing the right thing for your body is so important.
- Get enough sleep. You can’t be at your best when you’re exhausted.
- Pray. Unburden your heart at the feet of Jesus. I like to make a cup of tea and journal my prayers. Just as a good night of sleep refreshes my body, a restoring cup of tea and time with my Jesus takes care of me when I’m soul weary.
- Color or craft. You can get adult coloring books at the dollar store these days (although my favorite doubles as my devotional journal!). Maybe you like to rearrange furniture. Creative expression can be very encouraging to your mind and your emotions.
- Make a nice meal and set a lovely table. Often our hearts and minds appreciate beauty, and food is a delightful way to experience it even more. If you enjoy people, have some friends over to partake with you. If you’re someone who recharges best alone, do it for yourself. You’re worth it.
- Put on a favorite happy CD. Music refreshes the mind and the spirit. I have a few favorite worship CDs, but right now I’m really enjoying listening to Jesus Culture.
- Have a cup of tea or enjoy some coffee in a beautiful mug.
- Garden. Or sit outside barefoot. Nature is healing and nourishing.
What are your biggest struggles with self care? What are your favorite ways to nurture yourself?