Written byJulie Hassler, LPC-Intern
As Mother’s Day quickly approaches, it’s important to take a moment and appreciate the women in our lives who carry that all-encompassing title. As a mother of two and stepmom of two more myself, I know this role all too well. It’s a roller-coaster ride of silliness, hurt feelings and everything in between, all while trying to keep up with the ever-changing hats to adorn with a smile. This is a weighty task for anyone, and I often find myself lost while busily trying to keep up with all of the family demands and struggles. As mothers, we give so selflessly to our children with all the best intentions. So why is it so difficult to give this to ourselves?
There are several reasons for this. Often, we feel as though we don’t have the time or money to do anything special for ourselves. The logistics gets in the way. We also feel tremendous guilt for taking time away from the kids and our partners to do something on our own. It’s easier to exert our energy on the family than to take care of ourselves. With four children, I find that my needs are put on hold while making sure the kids needs and wants are fulfilled. When a moment does present itself, I’m in my head with thoughts of what I “should” be doing instead or knowing that I will eventually be interrupted with yet another request. My own mom has always had the saying, “If mom isn’t happy, the whole house isn’t happy.” I think she is spot on with this adage. Moms are truly the foundation in which the whole family exists and operates from. If mom isn’t practicing self-care and taking the time out for herself to recharge her batteries, her parenting suffers. Her relationship with her partner suffers. She suffers. It is important to recognize when your batteries are running low and you need to recharge. Some examples of not being mindful include:
Not hearing others speak to you as you are lost in thought or daydreaming
Focusing on future goals while you forget what you are doing in the moment
Reacting emotionally when you would not have typically done so
Over preoccupied with past or future
Clumsiness, accidentally breaking things or knocking things over
Failure to notice physical pains, tensions, aches
Eating without awareness or feelings of hunger
Of course, attending a yoga class or practicing meditation are great ways to rebalance yourself and find inner peace. But there are additional solutions to incorporate self-care into our busy routines. Some mindfulness techniques that promote self-compassion include:
Morning sunshine! Set your alarm 10-15 minutes before the kids get up in the morning. Put one hand on your heart, and one on your belly. Think of your partner, your children, or someone else whom you love (a person or a pet) and let that love fill you. If you take just a moment to fill yourself with love first thing in the morning, you lower your stress level and begin to tap into the refueling property of self-compassion.
BREATHE. This sounds easy enough and can be done anywhere. Take the time to concentrate on your breath, taking a deep lung-filling breath in through the nose, and a big exhale through the mouth. Closing your eyes is optional.
Turn on the music. Listening to music is said to change repetitive thought patterns. When doing chores around the house, plug into your iPod with something you enjoy. Dancing is optional.
Hug it out. Hugging your partner and children cannot only bring you closer emotionally, but helps with appreciation all around. A hug can allow us to let go and be present in the moment while connecting you with your heart and your feelings.
Giving thanks. At the end of your day, notice the things during your day you are grateful for. Notice small details and let the feeling of appreciation really sink into your body and mind. Gratitude is a practice that increases your sense of well-being. It not only increases your satisfaction with your life but, when you make it a habit, it can actually change your brain in a way that expands your capacity for feeling fulfilled.
These techniques aren’t just used to renew your enthusiasm for mothering, they are also important for your health as well. Mindfulness has been proven to be beneficial for memory retention, emotion regulation, reducing stress, fighting off feelings of anxiety and depression, improving sleep and aiding in weight loss. All the things that moms need to keep being great moms, all while teaching kids the importance of their own self-care. So on a day like Mother’s Day, take the time to tell the mom(s) in your life to practice self care not just for today, but everyday. She deserves it.