Self Care for Moms - Different Stages, Different Needs
The Oxford dictionary defines self-care as "the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during times of stress." Self-care is a hot topic right now, especially among mothers. What's interesting is that, while this definition is relevant across the multi-year journey that is motherhood, the actual practice of self-care takes on different meanings at different stages of motherhood.
- Some moms self-care by getting manicures, pedicures and massages.
- Some moms self-care with meditation.
- Some moms self-care with time with their partner or friends.
- Some moms self-care in beautiful silence.
Down to the details. What does this look like?
What's clear is that when your children are very young, you seek-out pockets (seconds) of time to tend to your personal needs. Alternatively, when your kids are a bit older (in school full-time, perhaps) you might schedule self-care between activities and household chores.
We asked two moms who are in different seasons of motherhood to describe what self-care means to them. Here's what each had to say:
Nicole, Mom to a 1 year old & 3 year old:
"While I'd like to say I get lots of pedicures or time away from my household to go to Target...ALONE...it's just not like that for me.
Maybe one day.
By the time I 'clock out' in the evening from my full-time job of being a stay at home mom to a 3 year old and 1 year old, I'm ready to watch Netflix and relax- or...sleep! Self-care doesn't always happen, but when it does it can be magical!
My current self-care includes a cup of coffee alone early in the morning. I set my alarm just in the off chance I actually sleep in. I tip toe out into the kitchen making sure not to make a peep - all while trying to function without the coffee I have yet to start brewing. Fingers crossed I can get this done before my daughter is singing, chatting, potentially crying or looking for me to snuggle with her in her room. Obviously, I look forward to those snuggle moments too. It's one of our few quiet moments, just the two of us. As much as I cherish these moments with my children, I must admit that I do still cherish a quiet moment alone.
Coffee is made.
Even if I only get a few sips or half a cup while it's hot (it will definitely get microwaved) I'm golden for at least the morning routine with my two little ones. Hopefully this will set the stage for a peaceful day even though things might not be peaceful around me! There will be playing. There will be yelling, fighting over toys, and many other loud and crazy moments sprinkled in. There will also be lots of hug and snuggles with them in my robe that they both love so much. There will be no lack of ‘I love you's, and kisses too. If I can give myself a little treat, a few quiet moments before my ‘job’ starts, I might just make it through another day in this crazy thing we call motherhood."
Anne, Mom to a 9 year old & 11 year old:
"My self-care has evolved as I traverse the many seasons of motherhood. Now with two boys, 9 and 11, both of whom are in elementary school, I assumedly have more free time for self-care.
With both boys in school for over six hours most days each week I should have time for me. On the contrary, what I found is that those hours have quickly filled with daily tasks such as running my business, grocery shopping, errands, laundry, cleaning house…I could go on and on. I appreciate the opportunity to complete my daily tasks solo now. That almost seems like self-care in itself. Everything seemed so much harder when I had littles underfoot.
I mean everything.
Grocery shopping, running into the bank, pumping gas, or just going to the bathroom was so much harder with small children. Forget being able to easily make a doctor’s appointment. With this season definitely comes some ease when trying to carve out alone time.
This season is a quiet season.
It is funny to think I used to long for the peacefulness of my children’s nap or bed time. For the noise volume to reduce.
This season is also a lonely season.
I no longer have playdates and moms groups to depend on for social interaction and I find I crave adult conversation. I have found myself feeling lonely, which surprises me. Don’t get me wrong. I too found my previous seasons of motherhood to be isolating...but in very different ways.
My self-care now includes pedicures, an early morning run, and even simply a warm cup of coffee. All of these certainly help me better take care of myself. And, now I look forward to filling these moments with others. Instead of feeling fulfilled with these moments of self-care by myself, I love to include a good friend or friends who also crave a little quality adult time. My tribe fills the very quiet my growing children left behind.
Who knows what the next season of motherhood will bring. One thing I do know? Self-care as a mother will evolve indefinitely."
How do you take care of you?