Mom Self-Care: The Energizer Bunny Wannabe
By: Beth McKay
You feel it. I feel it. Moms, grandmothers, caregivers – all feel it. Exhaust. We keep going, and going, and going. At first we can barely make it. After staying up all night nursing a baby and waking up for work at 5, we feel like we are living (or should I say unliving) in The Walking Dead. But as time passes, our bodies adjust and the exhaust begins to feel like a piece of the puzzle. It becomes a part of who we are. To function without exhaust seems impossible—something that we can only imagine in our dreams (which rarely occurs since we spend so little time in REM). We tell ourselves that this reality is good. We feel like we are doing so much and that our busy lives make us great mothers, wives, workers. But let’s be serious: it does not. Being exhausted is not okay.
As caregivers, our natural instinct is to give care, but too often, that care is given to everyone but ourselves. Ironically, I found the importance of self-care when I first became a mother and began intense parenting research. Through this, I encountered the eight principles of attachment parenting, and the most difficult principle for me (and many other parents that practice attachment parenting) is the balance principle. On their website Attachment Parenting International highlights the importance of personal balance and the effect it has on the family: “When in balance, family members are more able to be emotionally responsive.” This makes perfect sense. When we are distracted by our own physical and emotional exhaustion, we are not able to be wholly available to our children. On the API webpage devoted to balance, the term “burn-out” is explained:
“Recognize the symptoms of burn-out. Burn-out is a physical, emotional, and mental response to high levels of stress. Parents may feel relentlessly fatigued, strained, and physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. They may also feel overworked, under-appreciated, angry, resentful, powerless, hopeless, drained, frustrated, detached, anti-social, unsatisfied, resentful, like a failure, indifferent, and lacking motivation.” (Attachmentparenting.org)
Sadly, many of us can relate to this description. And how can we be great mothers, wives, and workers if this description is true?
Rest and Recharge
Guitta Hogue, Rankin County mother of three and licensed professional counselor, feels passionate about this topic. She says, “Our culture is constantly screaming about all the needs that we should meet for our families. However, we will be sacrificing most of those needs if self-care is not inserted among the most important. We mothers will do everything we can to do right by our children, but we forget the great service we provide them by pursuing balance. Get your haircut. Take a nap. Hire a sitter regularly. Soak in the bath. Learn something new. Essentially, we need rest and fun to sustain our daily grind. Otherwise, we become hollowed out and empty versions of ourselves.”
The birthday party does not have to be so grand. The weekly schedule does not have to be jam packed, the travel plans do not have to be non-stop. But we do need to be the best version of ourselves for our children, because at the end of the day – who we are to them is all that matters.
Mom, take time for yourself. Recharge your battery and don’t mistake yourself for the Energizer Bunny, but do be the best you that you can be.
Beth McKay, teacher from Brandon and a mom of three, stayed up all night writing this article, so she owes herself a glass of wine and a quiet bubble bath.