Motherhood does not mean always putting your children’s—or anyone else’s—needs before your own.
As a veteran mom of four children, I wrote The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother's Must-Have Guide to Health and Well-Being not because I instinctively knew how totake good care of myself while caring for my four children.
No, that is far from the case.
I could barely take a shower during the years when I juggled young children, apart-time job, a husband who traveled almost every week, and all the other responsibilities on my plate.
I did not thrive during those early years.
Most days I felt like I was gasping for breath as the unrelenting pressures to serve those who needed me continued to grow, and I was losing my ability to “rise to the occasion."
Not only did I not thrive during those years, I fell flat on my face.
I wrote in an effort to pull myself back up—to come to peace with the fact that I struggled on a cellular level to figure out how to give my family and work the energy they deserved without losing my sense of self.
And when I started asking other moms, through online surveys, e-mails, and interviews, nearly 400 moms told me that I wasn't alone in my conundrum.
As a mom who has battled relentless feelings of guilt and self-doubt, writing on this topic was a way for me to give other mothers something that I wish someone had given me (or that I had given myself)—
A permission slip, a message of hope, and a call to action for every mother, wherever she is in her motherhood journey, to stake her self-care claim.
Yes, asa mother you are committed to caring for your children for the rest of your life. But—and this is a big but—contrary to many mothers' instincts, mine included, motherhood does not mean always putting your children's, or anyone else's, needs before your own.
The first two years of motherhood are especially challenging with sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, shifts in your romantic relationship, and the feeling of being perpetually needed by your child.
Establishing routine self-care practices during these transitional years is pivotal. This is the time when you need to stay connected with what you need for yourself and try your best to honor those needs.
Meeting your own needs will allow you to be the mother, partner, professional, and friend that you aspire to be.
It is also time to realize that you won't be able to be your best self in every area of your life all the time—and this doesn't mean you aren't good enough. You most certainly are, mama.
If I could go back and talk to myself when I was a young, stressed-out mom, what's the one thing I would say to myself above all else? Treat yourself with love, respect, and compassion. In other words, be nice to yourself!
Move your body.
Hug and kiss your husband.
Seek out joy and laughter.
Find time to engage in pursuits you love.
Nurture your creative spirit.
Allow yourself to just say no sometimes.
Ask for help—and then ask for more.
Oh yeah, and sleep.
I wish you the best on your journey through motherhood and in all of your efforts to stay connected with the woman you have always been. If you can do that, you will truly thrive as a multi-faceted mama.