By: Penny Swift
Whether you have a newborn baby, a toddler, kids at school, teenagers, or sons and daughters who are adults, you need to care for yourself as much as you care for them.
Breast-feeding, homeschooling or helping with kids’ homework, and cooking aren’t tasks that highlight the charm and allure of a woman. But they become an all-important part of most modern moms’ lives. For some it’s everyday drudgery, for others, it’s simply what they expect from motherhood.
This isn’t surprising. Researchers call it “invisible household labor” and say that it often results in reduced satisfaction of their lives and their relationships and partnerships. It also increases stress levels. But it doesn’t have to.
There is no denying that parenting can be stressful because the challenges are enormous. You know how important it is to care for your kids. Why shouldn’t it be just as important to care for yourself?
Remember that one of the primary benefits of self-care is that it minimizes stress.
So why don’t more moms incorporate self-care into their daily routine? Why do so many modern moms find it difficult to be kind to themselves? Maybe they just don’t know what to do.
The Workload of Modern Moms
The reality is that most modern moms carry the bulk of responsibility in their homes, even those who have full-time jobs and whose husbands help in the house and with the children.
A research study published in the journal, Sex Roles in 2019, identified an invisible workload that many moms face. This, they say, can impact negatively on mothers’ mental health.
Co-authors, Lucia Ciciolla and Suniya Luthar, both university professors of psychology, surveyed nearly 400 U.S. women with children under 18 years. They were all married or committed to a partnership, and 35% worked full time.
- 90% said they took sole responsibility for organizing family schedules.
- 70% said they were responsible for delegating household chores and maintaining standards.
- 66% said they were the ones who took care of their children’s emotional needs (not the dads).
An earlier study by these two psychologists, Who Mothers Mommy? Factors that contribute to mothers’ well-being, focused on the personal well-being of moms. This includes the essential need for self-care.
It’s simple, mommy must mother mommy!
A study published by the American Psychological Association, Stress in America, shows that women have higher stress levels than men. And family caregivers - which, of course, include moms - have significantly higher levels of stress.
Caregivers, they say, are more likely to lie awake at night, skip meals because of stress, overeat, or eat unhealthy foods. This is a good example of why self-care is so essential for modern moms.
So, if you’re a stressed modern mom, relax and learn more about how to self-care.
How to Self-Care
Self-care is more than keeping clean, eating well, and doing things that you enjoy. These things are important, but it’s doing whatever keeps your mind, body, and soul in shape that really matters. You need to do what will make you happy and give you a feeling of self-worth and self-esteem.
Self-care doesn’t mean conjuring an image of glamour. Rather, it means doing whatever makes you feel good.
Here are some jumping off points to help jog some ideas for your self care activities:
- Do things that help you relax. Rest and recharge while your children are sleeping or busy. Meditate or do yoga. Read a book - and if you fall asleep, sleep. Sleep should be a priority.
- Think of things you enjoy doing that don’t take a lot of time. Lie down for half an hour. Dip into a book for an hour. Go for a quick walk or a run around the block.
- Meet a friend for coffee and talk. Find time to have a special dinner out with your man, or just share a bottle of wine or another favorite beverage at home.
- Go for a picnic on the beach, in the forest, or at the bottom of your garden … and invite the kids. Have fun as a family.
- Pamper yourself now and then. Do what you want to do. Have your hair cut, colored, and styled - or just wash it yourself and let it dry in the sun. Absorb the warmth and let your confidence and inner strength grow.
Treat yourself to a manicure or a body massage.
Wear curated lingerie and pretty but comfortable sleepwear. Good quality, well-fitting lingerie can make any woman feel beautiful, confident, and incredibly sexy.
If you feel good you’ll mellow. Share how you feel with your partner. Talk about how important self-care is for you and enjoy each other's company.
Ultimately, self-care is the key to a healthy, happy lifestyle. It isn’t selfish. It's important to show children that mothers also need their own space and time to just be. If you are happy, your children are more likely to be happy, and your partner will be happy with you too. It's a win-win-win!
In your own time, answer these 5 questions when you feel stressed out to help parse things out:
1. Right now I'm feeling ................. (be as specific as possible, it's not enough to write "sad", find out if it's "disappointed" or "scared" or "helpless", etc.)
2. The cause of my stress is .................. (let's call this your stressor. Again, be as specific as possible. "My kid" might not be helpful or specific enough. But "Teaching my kid how to face their own fear when I haven't done so in the past" might be better)
3. One thing that I can do for myself that will make me feel better is .............
4. The first step I can take to face my stressor is by ......................
5. The second step I can take to face my stressor is ....................
Penny Swift is a versatile writer who was trained on newspapers, migrated to magazines, and has written more than 40 non-fiction books. She has written countless articles on a vast range of topics from landscaping and interior decor to leather jackets and trend-setting lingerie. As a busy, working mom of three, she knows how important it is for women to care about and feel good about themselves.