The first time I saw Anita Renfroe’s “Momsense” video, I laughed. The second time, I cried.
Giving birth is challenging, but being a mom, is and art and a science. It requires incredible grace under pressure, skill, and an ability to let much of the stress of life roll right off your back, because we’re “on duty” 24 hours a day.
Kid wakes up screaming in the middle of the night? Mom’s up and at ’em.
Kid gets sick at school? Mom to the rescue.
Flat tire in the middle of nowhere? Mom’s calling “Triple A”, or she’s changing it herself.
Now, I’m not saying that Dads aren’t responsible folk. They are. But when Mom and Dad are BOTH sick, who’s taking care of the kids?
Yep, that’d be Mom.
And who’s running the business, wearing the pearls, moppin’ the floor, fixin the dinner, doing the laundry, and tendin’ to the home front?
Good ol’ mom.
Okay, I admit, hubby does the laundry in my house, but you get the idea I’m driving at here. I’m not taking anything away from Dad. Dad works hard, but as Anita Renfroe so meticulously puts it in her video, we do (and say) a ton of stuff for our family. Some good, some less than wonderful, but we’re active in the lives of our loved ones. We’re looking out for them, we’re taking care of them.
Who’s taking care of us?
When we’re minding the store, the kids, the husband, the home, what are we doing to take care of us?
Self-care is a growing concern among working moms. One look at the Wikipedia entry for work-life balance leads me to believe that self-care is even MORE important for Mom entrepreneurs. With many of us building our empires with children at home, we’re dodging the “guilt” bullet by keeping our kids out of day care, but we’re even more frazzled trying to “do it all”. It’s no wonder Renfroe picked the William Tell overture to speedily share all the “isms” that we Mom’s dish out on a daily basis. We’re wound so tight that we probably really DO talk that fast!
Here are a few tips to incorporate into your day to give you mini doses of self-care:
- Breathe. Waiting in a long line? Take a few deep, calming breaths. Use that time to de-compress. While others around you are growing more impatient, see this time as an opportunity to practice gratitude, patience, and bring a little solitude to your day. When I find myself stuck at a train crossing, I take it as a sign that I need to slow down and re-focus. So I do. Breathing deeply, relaxing my shoulders, and maybe even closing my eyes for a minute. Sometimes my kids will play along – then everyone is a it more relaxed!
- Clarify. Get clear on what’s really important. This can be on a daily or weekly basis. Take some time to examine your priorities, and focus on what is most important. Realize that if you’re like me, you’ll always find SOMETHING that needs to be done – and that most days not everything on that list will get accomplished. Instead, focus on what I call the Big Rocks – the must do’s – that will move your life and business forward for the day.
- Make self-care a priority. Schedule it like any other business appointment. Don’t tell people you’re scheduling self-care (you might feel guilty). Tell people you have a conflicting appointment that you can’t possibly reschedule. The first few times, you may feel a twinge of guilt. Once you get used to “putting on your own oxygen mask first”, you’ll quickly discover just how important taking time to care for your own needs really is.
- Mitigate guilt with unselfish rewards. For those Moms that really struggle with doing anything for themselves (including needed doctor visits – you know who you are), commit to an unselfish reward for taking care of yourself. You could opt to take the kids out for ice cream after your visit to the Chiropractor, or give your girlfriend a special thank-you gift for watching the kids while you took some time out from the day. The act of doing for someone else usually helps dissipate any feelings of guilt associated with taking care of yourself, because you’ll actually be doing something nice for someone else as well!
- Look for ‘joy joggers’. It could be a favorite song on your mp3 player, or a poem you loved as a young girl. Maybe it’s a picture or memory that brings some joy to your day. Strategically locate these “joy joggers” around your space. Like a memory jogger, these little reminders give you a small moment of joy each time you encounter them. Sprinkle them generously around your home, car and workspace, so that no space is considered the doldrums. Even if it means carrying it in a pocket or purse and taking it out periodically to enjoy. Joy joggers a forms of micro self-care.
It’s long overdue that we moms start mothering ourselves once in a while. Whether it’s a joy jogger, a time out, or a doctor’s appointment, make sure you’re taking time to tend to your own needs as well as all the other needs of your loved ones. The life you save may be your own!
Copyright 2010, Lisa Robbin Young