Why taking care of yourself makes you a better mom

I remember exactly how I felt the first few weeks after our son was born. This beautiful tiny little human being which I AM responsible for – he needs and depends on ME, 100% – and even though it is the most beautiful feeling on earth it felt so scary at the same time.

There was so much pressure to do everything right – keeping the house clean, preparing the food, doing the laundry and dishes and of course taking care of Raphael. And I remember how it drove me crazy that I couldn’t keep up with everything and that part of our apartment was just a little messy in the first few weeks. As expats living in the US we don’t have any family living close to us and having my parents or my parents-in-law coming over for a short period of time that I can take a nap, clean the house without interruption or just take a break from motherhood for a moment was not an option.
Mommy-ing is a wonderful job to be charged with, but it can also be incredibly time consuming and draining. Everyday routines like showering, eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep become really challenging and sometimes you just forget about taking the time to practice self-care.

Especially as a stay-at-home-mom, it is SO important to take the time for yourself, to recharge and to actually see that THIS time is just as important as doing the laundry, cleaning the house, doing the dishes or other things that need to be done – Because it really is. And I am just saying “especially for stay-at-home-moms” because I feel like they are more isolated from social life than moms who are getting back to work. That doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve that important me-time just as much as stay-at-home-moms. But I just feel like working-moms are craving to spend more time with baby because they are away all day and stay-at-home moms are craving to have more social contact and a little more time to themselves.

As a new mom I felt super guilty about leaving Raphael for even half an hour. Even though I knew he was more than fine staying with daddy (who is doing an amazing job by the way!) I just felt like I was letting him down. I am his mom and I need to be there for him – always – every second and every minute. On top of that I wanted to spend as much time as possible with both of them. So when Mark was home I wouldn’t want to “waste” time doing anything else or going somewhere else, especially since he is traveling so much! There was basically just no time for taking time to myself. And in the beginning Mark had to encourage me a lot to take that time to myself. Even if it was just half an hour – and it was the best thing he could have done for me.

This idea of women needing to become martyrs and lose any sense of self beyond being a permanent smiling and never tiring mother is very much a part of society’s expectations these days. Let’s just be fair to ourselves: Yes, we are moms and yes, we have to and love to take care of our kids. BUT we are also human beings with our own needs, our own interests, our own life – who have nothing to do with the classic mother stereotype (sitting perfectly styled at home, taking care of the kids and throwing the household). We are just far away from perfect – often tired and exhausted!
And here is the thing: How can we take good care of our kids when we don’t take good care of ourselves??
You need to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. 

On top of that I definitely think that there should be enough space to live your own dreams as an individual and being a wonderful mom at the same time. I decided to be a stay-at-home-mom (for now). I always wanted to stay at home to take care of my kids, especially in their young ages. But there are still dreams and goals I want to achieve in life – for myself. Since that is a different topic I’ll probably write a separate post about finding „balance between being a mom and still fulfilling oneself“.

So this may sound obvious but since being a mom I often forget about how important it is to take that me-time. And I have to admit to myself that spending time to take care of myself helped me become the best version of myself and helped me being a happier mom. And a happy mom is a good mom!

Whenever I take some time for myself I come home happier. I am more patient, more relaxed and so excited to hug and kiss Raphael because I missed him so much (…and I was probably gone for maybe 1 hour. Maximum 2 hours. Haha) But you don’t have to go anywhere to have that you-time. If you are having trouble leaving the house start with something small: Spend 30 minutes just for yourself – take a long relaxing bath, pamper yourself while having a cup of coffee. Whatever it is just give yourself permission to let go of any “I need to do…” thoughts and enjoy the time to yourself. Because you deserve it! And believe me that after taking this time for yourself you‘ll be excited and so ready to tackle another day of motherhood!

Photos by Emily Tanedo

 

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