Take A Break, Mom!
By Lauren Anderson
As moms we hear it so often, “take care of yourself first,” or “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” and I think we all understand the sentiment: self-care is important.
Normally, these same articles or recommendations are accompanied by pictures of gal pals or a seemingly blissful woman at the spa or in the throes of a pedicure. And while a spa day or a mani and pedi are perfectly wonderful ways to pamper yourself, the three times I’ve attempted this since my son has been born (two years ago), I also worked or worried the entire time because I had other stuff on my to-do list that seemed far more important than getting “pampered.”
That hour-long pedicure was just not what it was cracked up to be and ended up causing more stress than it seemed to offload.
Because as glamorous as these traditional self-care rituals seem, in reality, most of the moms I know have a combination of jobs, hobbies, side-gigs, and volunteer activities, in addition to their families, and it’s not very realistic to use the hour or two they have alone, sitting still.
And, it’s hard to sit still when you’re used to the go, go, go and your to-do list is not actually going anywhere.
It is possible to fill your cup with something other than cucumber water from the local day spa. And in truth mamas, it’s necessary that we do so and, it’s necessary that we do so in a way that both allows some time away to think, breathe, and recharge while feeling accomplished or iinspired…without wishing for even more time.
But how exactly do we take care of ourselves when there is so much to do?
With Mother’s Day approaching, I thought I would pose this question on Facebook: what is your favorite non-traditional self-care practice? I heard from family, friends, and friends of friends who offered loads of refreshing, realistic and inexpensive ideas that might just offer you a way to recharge without having to soak your feet in rose petals.
Be alone. So many of us think it’s selfish to take time alone and be away from our families but, if it was priority before having children, shouldn’t we
value it just as much after? Plain and simple, alone time was my number one response and it came in many, many forms; from taking extra 10 minutes in the shower or on the toilet (with the door locked), to watching television or listening to music without having to share the remote. Doing errands or, more specifically, going to Target, Costco, or any other myriad of stores alone was, above all else, the most coveted request. Because, as nice as it is to have company, it’s even nicer to be able to peruse the aisles and stop to smell a candle without someone screaming about snacks, toys, or needing to use the toilet.
Take it outside. Getting outside to garden, move the body, or just lounge in the fresh air (usually sans kids) was an easy way to feel pampered. The air, open space, and the ability to think allowed moms to feel refueled while also knocking off to-do’s like working out and yard work.
Do the ordinary. Or, the not so ordinary. Many of these mamas just wanted time to do the things that they used to do regularly but no longer put at the top of their list. Baking, writing, reading, sleeping in, and spending time with girlfriends were surefire ways to indulge without breaking the bank or even being alone (although it was preferred). Merely having the opportunity to do the things that identified us as us prior to becoming a mama makes the difference for so many; in how we feel, react and respond as a mom, partner, and woman.
Just move. Perhaps it’s the Yoga Teacher in me but this is my personal favorite. Whether it is 5 minutes or 50 minutes, movement is good for the mind, body, and spirit. No gym is necessary. Take a solo stroll or get down on the ground and do a few minutes of yoga. Choose something that’s easy, accessible, and fits into whatever time you have; there’s something for everyone.
So, as you think about what to ask for this Mother’s day, think about what recharges you, nourishes your soul, and sets you on fire. While that can be a soak in a mud bath or a sit in the sauna, it very well could be baking cookies, pouring a glass of wine, or blaring that music that makes you feel alive and free.
Lauren Anderson is a Yoga Teacher and Personal Trainer that specializes in prenatal and postpartum fitness and health. She is the owner of 5 Feathers Yoga in Folsom. Lauren enjoys helping others find a balance between fitness and life and while she believes wholeheartedly in daily movement, it's her hope that it enhances life rather than takes away. Lauren received her Master’s in Exercise Science from Sac State, is an
E-RYT 200, and Personal Trainer through ACSM. You can find more of her at lganderson.com or 5feathersyoga.com.