As moms, we have a tendency to take care of everyone else first and put ourselves last. For a lot of people, mom=martyr.
I'm just going to come right out and say this...
That's stupid. The often-used example of the flight attendant telling you to put your own mask on first before helping anyone else with theirs...completely true. You're not much good to your kids if you're dying. You can't pour water into someone else's glass unless yours is full.
I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Because of it, I have physical limitations and often need to stop what I'm doing to rest because of the severe fatigue and/or intense pain. I explain to my kids that Mommy has owies and doesn't feel good, and that I need to sit down. They are accepting of that, and the older kids make it a point to help out with the younger ones when I'm not feeling well.
Last week, I told the kids I needed to sit down because my hips were aching. A few minutes later, 6 year old Nano asked me for something and was reprimanded by 3 year old Anna before I could answer his request. "Leave Mommy alone! Her hippity hops hurt!"
The reality is that if I don't take care of myself now, I will pay for it later and be out of commission even longer.
Taking care of myself isn't just about making sure that I am able to take care of my kids. I'm also teaching them about self-care which is important, not only because everyone should know how to take care of themselves, but also because three of my four kids inherited Ehlers Danlos Syndrome from me.
They're watching how I handle living with this genetic syndrome. They're looking to me for guidance on how they should live their lives with a chronic illness. By demonstrating that it's okay to take the time to care for self-care I am teaching my kids how to do the same for themselves.
Self care isn't just limited to the physical aspect. You need to take care of yourself emotionally as well. I've found that if I get a few minutes of peace and quiet in the morning to read my Bible and drink my chai latte, I'm in a much better mood that day which is obviously beneficial for the kids as well.
I can't handle a lot of noise, activity, or stress. As a mom with four young children, noise, activity, and stress are things I deal with on a daily basis. Any mom of two or more kids can tell you how overwhelming it can be to have ALL of the kids need you for something at the same time.
I can only take so much before I go into sensory overload and shut down. When I get to that point, I have to take a few minutes in a quiet room to regroup before I can tackle life again.
My (also sensitive) kids have noticed how I handle emotional self-care...
One day then-6-year-old Katie was having a rough time getting along with her rambunctious, noisy siblings and was obviously overstimulated. I was just about to step in and suggest that she remove herself to another room when she approached me with tears in her eyes. "Mommy, I need to be by myself for a few minutes. Can I sit on your bed with the door closed?" I said yes, and she shut herself in my room. About 10 minutes later, she came out refreshed and much calmer. "Thanks, Mom! That helped me feel better inside my head."
6 year old Nano frequently gets overwhelmed and is extremely sensitive. When I see him heading towards a meltdown, I suggest a time-out, but not as a punishment. He hangs out in his room for 5-10 minutes with the door closed and when he comes out, he's relaxed and ready to play again.
My kids are watching me and the best way that I can teach them about self-care is by setting an example.
You can find out more about the Self Care Movement here: