I could call it many different names.
Do you know that situation when you have had a bad night, maybe because your baby has been crying, or your child wet the bed, or you suddenly have to share your bed with 4 others and you can hardly breathe let alone sleep?
You probably also wake up late in the morning, with a painful back, headache, or a hangover.
You are stressed, tense and you take it out on the whole family. The stress continues and even increases and multiplies. You have to rush your kids to make it to kindergarten on time, they start to cry and rebel, all the voices get louder. Eventually you make it to kindergarten safely, you go back home and you feel like you’ve been running a marathon. You get home and begin cleaning because the house is messy, you wash the dirty sheets and so on, day after day.
But what if you take a break, a deep breath, and are kind to yourself? You break the cycle, the ‘Hamsterrad’. Eventually, if you keep running at this marathon pace you will break-down, burn-out, and get depressed. You won’t be mentally available to those who need you and even worse, you won’t be able to actually enjoy this phase of your life.
No wonder there are so many moms who are so relieved when they are out of this phase of raising infants, because it exhausts them too much. But if we are honest with ourselves, we all wish to make the most of every moment with our children, don’t we? They grow way too fast and I’m afraid that later on in life I will regret that I didn’t enjoy this time enough together with my little cuties. That is why it is soooo important for us to take care of ourselves. We need to make time for ourselves, and enjoy our lives now because our children will grow older eventually and we will have missed out on a very precious time in our lives. Our daily life is the childhood of our children and we have the opportunity to influence and bond with them now as we won’t ever have it again.
I tend to be a Workaholic-Mom. I work with to-do-lists and they are always full. I’m easily driven by those lists everyday. When I’m at home it’s hard for me to relax as long as I have not accomplished the things on my list for the day. The problem is, that list will never ever end. There will always be endless daily needs that need to be met. Children are constantly hungry and eat at least three meals a day. They need to get dressed, washed, made ready for bedtime and so on. There is infinite responsibility that we as parents carry. And we as moms feel the weight of taking care of the kids the heaviest because I believe the Lord put this particular nature in us as moms who are the ones who nurture our babies from their very first day. Our children universally always choose mum first before daddy when it comes to food and everything else, don’t they?
I tend to easily be the burden-carrier of all the needs around me and put my own needs far behind. To some extent, I think that is normal and okay, but I also need to find a healthy balance. This is where I really want to grow. To know how to easily live a healthy, balanced life with myself and others.
So how do I do that?
As stay-at-home mums, we need to remind ourselves that we are self-employed, so we are our own boss. That is very important for me to remind myself. I have no bossbaby, no husband who tells me what to do, no inner-wrong-voices that drive me crazy. If we don’t give ourselves a break, no one will do it for us. If I don’t stop and say I have had enough, I can’t anymore, no one would even think to help me! The others (my husband, my mum, my kids) would think I have it all together and I can do it alone. We need to be honest with ourselves and honest to others. We need to listen to our body signals. We are not machines and we are not created to function like robots. We are created in the image of God and even Jesus took breaks and rested. We need to be kind to ourselves. If we are HAPPY then the whole family is HAPPY, aren’t they? So if we are good to ourselves we can be good to our loved ones as well. Taking care of ourselves is good for everyone.
What does it mean for me to be kind to myself? It means I stand up in the morning (best, before everyone else) and I take time to drink my favorite tea while talking to God, meditating on the day or on a scripture. If the weather is nice, I go out on the balcony in the sun. Whenever possible, I take the time to dress nicely.
When I have had a rough night and I’m tired and the baby is sleeping, I take an extra nap. In general I have one (at least 30 minutes) nap after lunch. The baby is hopefully sleeping then as well, and if my older kids are also at home, they know they have to entertain themselves and should not disturb mummy – we call it the ‘whisper time’.
It means to enjoy a cup of coffee after napping, regularly exercise, eat well, take a regular shower and at least once in a week go out and have ‘me’ time.
It means when the kids are sleeping I also allow myself to rest and enjoy my evening. In general, I try not to pack too much in one day. I honour the Sabbath and I don’t do any housework on Sundays. Sometimes it even helps me to shut off my mobile phone completely.
It means I ask for help when I need it, and we share duties as a whole family. The kids get involved in the household more and more as they get older.
If I make a point to implement all this on a regular basis, I can prevent myself from needless stress and save my sanity. I know putting this into practice will take a lot of conscious effort and may take a bit of time to become the norm. Schedules change and we often need to adapt as well.
I guess I’m simply learning to be easier on myself and not just put to-do’s on my list for the day, but also the fun stuff. Nice things that I look forward to. Things that help me to breathe, recharge, and enjoy life. This also includes quality time with my kids and family time all together.
What I’ve learned with plans for the week and to do-lists is they have to serve me and not the other way around. I will not be a servant to my own list. These lists are meant to be a guideline and not a strict schedule. If I am good to myself, I can be good to others. The bonus is that at the same time, by my example, my family is learning how to care for themselves and live a healthy lifestyle as well.