The two self-care questions that can help mamas recharge
Your children need you to take care yourself.
It’s Sunday, the laundry is piled up, the dishes are in the sink, you have a project due at work on Monday, your partner is out on a run, and your toddler desperately needs you to play trains with him.
When your internal self-care siren screams sleep and you just can’t keep your eyes open anymore, instead of grabbing a coffee and plowing through, give yourself permission to heed to your need.
When your partner walks through the door and sees all that “needs” to be done, simply say, “I need you not to judge me right now. I need to take a nap. Oh, and here’s Thomas the Tank Engine.”
Your ability to initiate statements to yourself, your partner, and your children with the words, “I need,” followed by words of self-care, will be a savior to you and ultimately a gift to your family.
“The only way that a mother can truly be present, engaged, connected, and nurturing with her child is if she is present, engaged, connected, and nurturing with herself.”
So, how do you know if you are caring for yourself honestly and meaningfully? Simply ask yourself these two important questions.
Related: Self-care for moms is important—but experts say moms have it all wrong
The 2 most important self-care questions for mothers
1. What are your 10 favorite ways to take care of yourself?
Whether it is a simple or more time-consuming activity, what is guaranteed to put a smile on your face? What is guaranteed to make you feel connected to your sense of self? (E.g., spending time with friends, vacationing with your partner, taking a yoga class, meditating, bike riding, writing, reading)?
Take a minute to make a list.
Now, how many of these things do you still do on a somewhat regular basis?
What are the current obstacles that keep you from doing more of them, or doing even the “simple” ones regularly?
2. Can you commit to carving out 10 to 20 minutes to incorporate these practices into your everyday routine?
This may mean asking for help or setting secure boundaries to protect your “me time.”
Can you look at your yearly calendar and attempt to carve out time for one or two of your self-care joys that require more time?
Feel free to get creative.
If you are on a budget, maybe a “vacation” with your partner is a “stay-cation” at a nearby hotel for a night or two.
If there are more than a few activities you would like to incorporate into your life, be creative in rotating them throughout the week, month, or seasons. For instance, biking may be more enjoyable for you in the fall, whereas you may find the most inspiration to write or scrapbook around the winter holidays.
While you are managing your never-ending to-do list for your family and profession, make sure self-care is a part of that list.
Related: Why experts suggest you should start screaming for self-care
Tending to your needs will allow you to have the energy and resilience required to be strong and secure for all those who need you today and for many years to come.
“Self-care is not a mad dash to a virtual finish line; it is about meeting yourself where you are right now and constructing a plan that you can follow with kindness, patience, flexibility, and compassion.
“On your journey, there will be times when you feel like you’ve ‘got it’—you’re in your groove—and there will be other times when you feel like your plan is not working the way you had hoped, that it is way harder than you thought it would be, and that you want to throw in the towel.
“But like anything in life, as you encounter the inevitable tough spots, you need to reach out to your support system for help, and look for the strength inside yourself.
“And always keep in mind that you are on a powerful, potentially life-changing journey that will open up new pathways in your mind, body, spirit, and relationships with others—pathways that you may not have even imagined to be possible.”
—Excerpted from “The Self-Care Solution“
A version of this story was originally published on May 23, 2016. It has been updated.