We mamas carry a heavy mental load. Taking care of our families often means juggling a million different tasks, projects, schedules and appointments. Is it any wonder that while our calendars are full of reminders to take our children to the doctor, or book the dog in for his annual shot at the vet, our own appointments often aren't penciled in at all?
According to a recent survey by REDBOOK and HealthyWomen (a non-profit dedicated to providing women with health information), 45% of women over 30 do not make time for their own health, in part because they're busy managing everyone else's.
The survey results indicate the younger a woman is, the less likely she is to to get basic screenings. Moms in their 30s are 10% less likely to access screenings than older women, and are 10% more likely to say they put their kids' care before their own.
Beth Battaglino, the CEO of Healthy Women, was unsurprised by the results, as she knows just how long the to-do lists of most mamas are, but she hopes seeing these numbers spurs us into action.
Screenings save lives
"We know preventative screenings save lives," Battaglino tells Motherly, adding that when we prioritize our own screenings, we're helping ensure that we'll continue to be able to take care of our families the way we want to.
To Battaglino, it's sad to see that 83% of women say they're happy to be managing their family's health, when 66% say they feel only somewhat in control of their own health. "Are they getting their screenings done, do they know what the results mean, and are they asking questions? No, they're not," she says.
Bump ourselves up the list
Battaglino understands that moms are always going to prioritize booking their children's health screenings before their own, and she's not suggesting that's wrong. She's simply hoping that we can bump our own health up a few spots on the to-do list, so that it maybe comes after booking our children's appointments but before getting an oil change for the minivan.
"Let's be honest, we are never going to put ourselves first, we know that, but my ask is, can we at least put ourselves second or third?," she asks.
Battaglino knows that summer is a super busy time for moms, so she gets that we may not have time (or the childcare) to go to a doctor's appointment right now. She suggests mothers instead book now for late September or October. By then, the kids' back-to-school check-ups will be complete and older children will be back in class, giving mom a little more breathing room to commit to an appointment.
It will only cost you time
"Right now 26 of the preventable screenings available are covered by the Affordable Care Act," Battaglino says. "So women need to be aware of that and understand that right now all the screenings are paid for and covered, so it's really important to make sure they get their screenings done."
Booking your yearly screenings may be just another thing on your to-do list today, but once you do it, it's one less thing to carry around in your mental load. And if it prevents a future health emergency, it will definitely lessen the load for the ones we love.
Sometimes, the best way to take care of others is to take care of ourselves.