When Self-Care for Moms Isn’t a Priority
When you get stressed out, do you make less time for yourself? If you speed up, you probably neglect your own self-care. I know you want to take care of your family’s needs. But if you are never on your to-do list, you will burnout.
And when you are a burned out and overwhelmed mom, it is hard to take care of anyone including yourself. You even become self-critical that you aren’t taking better care of yourself, like exercising or eating right, and that adds to the stressed out feeling. So how do you manage stress and make time for yourself?
Challenges of Exercising After Becoming a Mom
Keeping in mind that exercise is one of many ways that moms can practice self-care, I’m not going to pretend it’s easy to make time for exercise after becoming a mom. If you exercise at home, you may find your child climbing on you during yoga. Or if your kids are older, you are probably driving them to their activities instead of doing your own routine.
While my kids are no longer under my feet, I do remember what it’s like to try to exercise with young kids. I completed my first 5K race in 2011. I did a “Run for Kids” of Lee’s Summit Elementary, except I didn’t run. Unless you count running after a toddler, to keep him from tripping runners as he swerved left, right, and backward.
I had wanted to enter a race for a charity for several years, but it seemed there was always some commitment that took priority. So I decided it was time to make my personal goal a priority. And, as almost everything I do, I over-prepared for race day.
Since I was bringing my kids, ages 6 and 3 at the time, I tried to anticipate every possible need they would have. I packed snacks, drinks, coats, Kleenex, and cooler in the stroller. I was sure I was forgetting something. We made it to the event, just in time to be at the end of the line.
I’m proud to say, I finished the race as a walker and still had two kids with me. While I enjoyed the event, I was so over-prepared. I knew I’d do another race for a charity, but the next time it would be without my kids and without “stuff.”
Making Time for Exercise When Stressed Out
Walking in 5Ks is definitely not the norm for me. But I’ve learned if I make exercise or movement more routine, I’m less likely to drop it when stressed out.
First off, why exercise at all? We’ve all heard the benefits of physical exercise. It improves our sleep, energy, mood, and even our sex life! So if you have an exercise routine, but you dropped it when others needed you more. Or you’ve never had one, but want to explore this way to practice better self-care. Let’s explore some ideas on how to make exercise a part of your routine even when stressed out:
- Pick the best time of day: In order to make exercise part of your daily routine, pick a time of day that is best for you. For some, this is before the kids wake up, while they are at school, or before bed. Pick the time of day that you can stick with on the days you want to be active or exercise.
- Start with ease: If you start small, you are more likely to stick with it and build up naturally. Otherwise, you are so sore and frustrated that you will want to drop it. For example, start with stretching, yoga breathing, or 15-minute walk. Think about ways to make movement and activity part of your day.
- Pick a physical activity you enjoy: You may find you need different exercise when stressed, whether it’s more soothing or energizing. Like maybe you need an intense kickboxing class or maybe you need a restorative yoga class. Try something new until you find what you prefer and need.
- Go at your own pace: It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are. It’s for you, so embrace your own pace and style. If you love to compete, do it. If not, just keep moving one foot in front of the other. You will get there, stretching yourself in your own way.
- Exercise for yourself: Taking time to move our bodies isn’t selfish, it’s self-care. Engage in physical activity for you, solely because it makes you feel good.
What is your favorite way to be physically active? And how do you make self-care part of your routine after you have kids?
If you are tired of overdoing and not making time for yourself, Schedule a free 15-minute phone consult with Marci and take a step toward loving yourself as much as you love your family. Marci Payne, MA, LPC offers women’s counseling in Independence MO. (Also serving surrounding cities of Blue Springs, Grain Valley, and Lee’s Summit MO).
(Photo Credit: “Enthusiasm” by H. Koppdelaney)