Of all the tips for working moms, the very top of the list has to be taking care of yourself. Mom's needs often seem to come last. After your kids, their dad, your job, the pets, and endless errands, there is the one and only... you.
There’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done, so your running shoes or novel or bath salts or strappy sandals just gather dust.
But you can’t always stay on the back burner. Here are four reasons it’s important for working moms to take care of ourselves:
If Mama Isn't Happy, Nobody Is
When mom is stressed or burnt out, everyone in the house suffers. Even a baby gets fussy when his mother is upset. Older children may respond to a tense mom by acting out.
If you take an hour or just ten minutes to do whatever makes you feel good the rest of your day will be easier and more fun. Your family will enjoy having an energetic and refreshed mom, even if they complain about your absence. The bottom line is: by paying attention to your own needs, you’ll be better at meeting everyone else’s.
Stress and Sleep Deprivation Cause Weight Gain
Stress and sleep deprivation releases cortisol into your bloodstream, which triggers fat storage around your waist. No wonder it’s so hard to lose that pregnancy weight while getting up every three hours with a new baby! Who knew!?
Not only is it demoralizing to carry more weight than your ideal, but it also increases your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis, among other conditions. And we all want to live long enough to play with our grandkids, maybe even see them get married, right?
So the next time you’re tempted to stay up until midnight sorting, folding, and putting away everyone’s laundry, go to sleep. You can just dress the kids out of baskets of clean laundry. Similarly, taking your work lunch break to exercise can actually give you a burst of energy and makes the afternoon more productive.
Other People Are Capable, Too
So many working moms fall into the superwoman trap, thinking we have to be in charge of everything because we’re the only one who will do it right. That mentality not only overloads you with work, but it also doesn’t give enough credit to your other family members (aka your support system). Even worse, it prevents them from learning skills that can lighten your load and make them feel more capable.
Try leaving the kids with their dad or grandfather for a Saturday morning while you have brunch with your girlfriends. He may not change the diapers as often as you would, or feed them perfectly balanced meals, but I bet they’ll have fun. And not only will he feel rightly proud of his caregiving ability, but your children will also develop independence, seeing that they’re all right without mom hovering nearby all weekend.
At work, see if there’s a junior employee looking to advance. Perhaps they'll be interested in some work you can delegate to them. Again, they won’t be completed the way you would do it, but you’ll have more free time for yourself. You’ll also be mentoring someone who could use the experience.
Life Is for Living
This is your life, right now. Would you rather spend it rushing around to finish your to-do list, or actually enjoying yourself? Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’ll relax once you reach the bottom of the list – there will always be something more to do. Instead, ruthlessly prioritize, eliminate tasks that don’t absolutely have to get done and fight the disease to please everyone.
If you’re having trouble carving out time for yourself, start small. Say you always wanted to meditate: wake up five minutes early for some deep breathing and visualization. Or if you miss exercising regularly, schedule a once-a-week power walk during lunch. If it’s on your calendar, you can plan work around it.
And the next time you have some breathing space, don’t fill it with errands. Instead, just breathe.
Edited by Elizabeth McGrory.