When my twins were first born, my sense of balance was thrown out of whack.
I had very little sleep and continued on an adrenal rush to “do it all.” I would stay up late at night to get everything done around the house or even to have my down time. When I went back to work a year later, I realized that I was exhausted. As an acupuncturist who specialized in women’s health, I found I would give advice to other mothers that I myself did not take.
I treat many mothers and I am blessed to give them care, but what I realized is most mothers rarely care for themselves. What I have learned as a mother and a practitioner is that in order to truly mother others well, one must first mother themselves. This does not always mean getting massages and going on girls’ trips–which is all wonderful and well needed–but it is about learning how to nurture and nourish yourself on a daily basis.
The mantra about putting on your oxygen mask first before helping others with their own is so important for mothers to remember. You can’t help your family without being ready to give of yourself. As a mom, it’s crucial to make sure that you’re building up your own emotional reserves in order to be there for others, too.
Nourishing yourself in the madness of motherhood, in our age of constant digital connection, is as important as ever. You can begin in small, simple ways. But they can make a world of difference in how you feel, and, in turn, how your family feels.
The power of rituals: Beginning or ending your day with a daily ritual helps to give you time to sit and reflect.. My daily ritual is my coffee time in the morning. It is not just about the delicious flavor, it is about taking a little time in the morning to sit and relax. I tell my kids, “this is mommy’s time.” It is 15 minutes of peace. A daily ritual can be your morning or afternoon tea, a brisk 15-minute walk or even doing a self-foot massage at the end of the night. It is more about taking the time to honor yourself and relax.
Nourish your spirit: A very important aspect of nurturing yourself is to simply do the things that make you happy. It is these simple yet profound things that nourish your soul. Trying taking a class to simply taking time once a week to paint or doing a hobby that you love. You can take time to plant or join a book club. Learn how to meditate (try an app like Headspace or other quiet guided exercises). Invest in your own journey.
Give yourself a mental break. Nourishing yourself means instilling good, positive thoughts that help lift yourself up. Often times, mothers can be way too critical (of themselves!) for their own good. At the end of the day, pat yourself on the back and say good job for being a great mom. Just articulating those words, even silently to yourself, can go a long way towards a more positive mental state.
Nourish yourself through food: Food is such an important aspect of self-care. I had such a great diet before my children and once I had kids I found myself skipping breakfast and eating their left overs at dinner time. Take time out and eat good nutritious food. Prioritize healthy eating for you as much as you emphasize it for your kids! Then eat with your children and make food time family time. Food helps to stabilize mood, nourishes your energy and keeps you balanced.
Get your Zzz’s: Mothers often stay awake to get all the things they need to do done or to have their down time. But sleep is essential to repair our bodies and enables you feel replenished to deal with the demands of motherhood. Make sure to not eat dinner within two hours before sleeping and avoid TV, computer and phone use right before going to bed. This is easier said than done. Try putting your phone out of reach of your bedside table, and try chatting –in real life!–the person lying next to you. And then, hit the hay: Good sleep means good stable energy and mood the next day.
Get help! I find many mothers feel guilty getting help. But in order to be a balanced mother, you can’t do it all. No one can. If you find yourself crazed at the end of the day, then it is time to think about how others can help you. It can mean hiring a mother’s helper to asking your husband or partner or family members to pitch in around the house in new ways.
Give yourself a gift of balance. Give yourself a little more time for you.