The Self Care Equation for Busy Moms

By Shannon Penrod

Okay, so here’s the deal.  When was the last time you skipped a meal?  Or stayed up too late?  Or even put off going to the bathroom until a more convenient time?  Guilty as charged?  Me too.  And from the sounds of it most of my friends who are Moms are equally guilty.  Here’s the $64,000 question: When was the last time you allowed your child(ren) to skip a meal, stay up to 2 am or asked them to wait an hour to go to the bathroom?  If you’re like me it never happens.  Sometimes a meal is delayed, sure…but I beat myself up about it.  Sometimes I let my son stay up too late (by an hour!) When I do he and I pay for it the next day and I remind myself that we are never doing that again.  middle-endIf my child tells me he has to go to the bathroom I never, ever ask him to wait longer than it takes for me to drop everything and locate the nearest restroom.  So how come I don’t do that for myself?

What would my life look like if I took care of myself the way I take care of my child?  What would happen if I had a ritual of stopping everything a full two hours before my set bedtime (snort!) and devoted that time to taking a leisurely bath, reading wonderful stories, getting a full body massage with lotion and in general preparing myself for a good night sleep?  I think I might actually be asleep before midnight, I might actually sleep better and as a result I might be a happier more productive person.  Hmmmmm.  What if I made sure that I had food and drink on a regular basis, to the point of carrying a snack with me when leaving home?  Maybe I wouldn’t be so cranky when the doctor’s appointment goes long or traffic is heavy.  Hmmmmm.  What would happen if I considered the major food groups and the colors of the rainbow when I plan my own meals like I plan my sons – wait, that would require planning my meals…hmmmm.

I schedule play time for my son.  I make sure that his schedule is balanced between work and play, I schedule quiet time, outdoor time and play dates…because I love him and want him to be happy.  But it occurs to me that by not doing these things for myself I am also teaching him that when you grow up, you don’t have to take care of yourself anymore.  Uggggh, that is a punch to stomach.  I thought I was teaching him the opposite, that he is worth caring for.  But you can’t give away what you don’t have.  Ugggggh, another punch to stomach.  I want my son to feel loved and worthy of being taken care of – whether it is self care or care that comes from someone else.  If I am really committed to teaching him this lesson I have to module it. 

So I offer a challenge to all of us, all the moms out there, the self care equation for moms.  For the next month let’s all treat ourselves to the care that we treat our children to.  If we start to put our needs on the bottom of the priority pile, let’s stop and consider if we would ever do that to our children.  If we wouldn’t do it to our children, we can’t do it to ourselves.  If it wouldn’t be good for them – it’s not good for us.  If you aren’t sure, consider “If I let my kid do this how would their behavior change?”  It’s laughable.  I had popcorn for dinner three nights ago.  Imagine feeding your kid popcorn for dinner and then expecting them to behave like a reasonable person!  So for the rest of the month let’s have the same rules apply to us.  Who knows we all might feel better, more rested, happier and more productive.  Keep me posted as to your progress; I need to know if it’s just me!