This summer I’ve been holding a free challenge for moms who felt they needed to work on self care.
Each week we talked about different aspects of self care and I’m going to share a summary of these with you today!
Our Roles and Identity Change When We Become Mothers
Yes, a baby is born in the delivery room, but so is a mother.
Her identity shifts and somehow we have to find the intersection of the two.
I don’t know about you, but I believe when I became a mom, my identity and purpose in life only existed as a mother. Any other parts of me had to be put on hold. Anything else I enjoyed was no longer allowed.
There’s not room for any of those things right now. Not until…
Until she sleeps through the night. Until she stops eating every 3 hours. Until she stops nursing. Until she’s potty-trained. Until she goes to school.
Until, until, until…
But I was wrong. The two can co-exist. It’s not ALL about me anymore, but it’s also not all about my kids.
While I love them and I recognize the honor it is to have the title of “mama” and the privilege I have of raising them, the title and role of “mother“ do not completely consume me.
Even though I’d give my life for all three of them (and yes, I do get sucked in to meeting their every need from time to time), the reality is, I’m still Cason. I’m still me. I’m still a human.
I’m not just a mom. I can’t be.
You’re Not “Just” a Mom
I have to still be me. I have to still make sure my needs are met. I can’t live only for them because that process would cause me to slowly die, piece by piece. But that’s what motherhood felt like for the longest time.
It felt like all freedom, all hope, all potential, was gone.
This was my life now and this was how it would always be.
I’m so glad I realized (though not as quickly as I would’ve liked to) this isn’t true. I don’t have to be completely consumed by the title of “mother.” It’s simply ONE facet of who I am.
I’m also a wife, daughter, sister, friend. I lead worship. I’m a writer, a reader, a deep thinker. I’m a podcast host. I’m a community builder. I’m a business owner. I’m a dreamer.
Take Inventory in Your Self-Care Life
While I recognize, I am more than a mama and must pour into other areas of my life, I know this is not always natural.
However, even though it may not feel natural, it is crucial you take the time to do so.
So, go ahead. Think about how you are caring for yourself right now in your current season. On a scale between 0 and 5, what you rate yourself in the self-care department?
You might be surprised to know, when I asked our online community, the average answer from most women was 2.
This made me cringe on the inside, because I simply want to shout from the rooftops, “Mama, you matter! Take some time for yourself.”
Let Go of Perfection
But I think we neglect self-care because we have this idea of perfection.
For example, if we used to love running before we had kids, we think in order to take care of ourselves, running has to look the same as it did before the kids.
So it doesn’t count as self-care if we don’t get in the same number of miles, or run for the same amount of time. But this limited thinking keeps us from going on the run at all (or whatever your self-care practices may look like.)
What if instead of aiming for exactly what running used to look like, we compromised and tried running up and down the driveway, or around the neighborhood once, while someone watched the kids?
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
When we let go of this perfect idea of self-care, we can really begin to get creative on ways to take care of ourselves.
Because you are worth taking care of yourself.
Different Categories of Self-Care
In order to begin this self-care journey, we can start looking at the different categories of self-care.
Who knew there were different types?!
These are some categories of self-care that I’ve labeled: physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual. So let’s go ahead and break down each of these.
This category is one of the most obvious categories that comes to mind when we think of self-care.
Some examples would be yoga, exercise, stretching.
Maybe you eat more fruit and vegetables? You can drink more water. What if you took a Zumba class or went for a walk? Runs and bike rides?
These are all examples of physical self-care. It kind of feels silly breaking this down, but even though this category is more obvious, covering it is still important.
Hopefully this gives you some new ideas.
Emotional self-care is about becoming more in-tuned with your emotions.
It’s about checking in with yourself and becoming more mindful of your triggers and thinking patterns.
This category of self-care is about finding ways to work through these things, rather than suppressing what you are feeling.
It’s okay to cry, laugh, or feel angry. It’s okay to feel whatever you may be feeling. Or not feeling anything. (Been there, done that.)
This category of self-care is about having more compassion for yourself and your emotions.
I can admit there was a time when I didn’t feel anything. Guess what? I’m okay with it. It’s normal.
What’s not normal is when we act like our feelings, or lack thereof, are not normal. We are human beings. We are made to have emotions, instead of suppressing them.
So here are some ideas for this emotional category of self-care…
You can journal. No, it doesn’t have to be an hour long. It can be for two minutes, or five minutes, or whatever you can manage, but write down what you feel.
Check-in with yourself, how are you feeling? This helps you to better understand yourself, and it helps you to better understand your emotions.
You can practice gratitude. What are you thankful for? You can start to notice and work on the negative self-talk voicing inside your head. You know, the inner voice that is so mean, like she’s such a mean girl.
Let’s learn to quiet her down.
So working on the negative self-talk, and also practicing a mindfulness and meditation. Learning to be more present.
I’m obsessed with this because it’s what I’ve been learning about the past few years and it’s life changing. You can learn to be present and more in the moment.
Being present is not a new concept, but it’s kind of newer to me, and actually implementing and doing it. So this has felt like this lightbulb moment.
If you can learn to be present, that is emotional.
Okay, let’s talk about spiritual self-care. This is a connection to something bigger than yourself.
It can help you find purpose and meaning in life, and it can give you the courage to push through, when times get difficult by inspiring hope.
Spiritual self-care looks like practicing meditation, spending time in nature. Maybe you pray or write in a gratitude journal. Maybe you donate to a charity or a cause you believe in.
You get connected to a force that is bigger than you.
As I’ve shared before, my faith is what this is for me as my spiritual self care. I’m a Christian. I have my quiet time every day. I read my Bible. I pray. This is how I manage spiritual self-care, but it’s not something I’ve always done consistently.
It’s not something I’ve always done well, and whenever I’m not consistent with it, everything else suffers just like all the other areas of self-care.
We have to make sure we’re connecting daily to something.
Let’s talk about intellectual self care. This is one of the ones that comes pretty easy for me.
This category looks like reading a book or doing a puzzle. You can watch a documentary. (I love documentaries. I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to learning about things I’m really interested in.) But intellectual self-care is learning a new skill, learning a new language, something that challenges your mind, something that challenges your brain.
There are a few apps you can use for this. Just look up a few brain teasers or mind games!
This is kind of, again self-explanatory, but what do you enjoy? What feels good to you? What are your hobbies? What’s fun? What are you good at? What do you need?
These activities can help shape your goals, your identity, who you are, what makes you, you?
I think a lot of us lose these once we transition into motherhood, because we’re like, “I don’t know anymore. None of the things I used to do fit now. I can’t really make this work how I used to.”
We don’t really know who we are, what we enjoy, what we like, because we don’t feel like we really have the time to do those things.
And there are seasons when you really don’t. This is okay. Just extend yourself grace and remember this season is not forever.
Another thing we talked about in Self-Care Summer was scheduling. Scheduling is so important and you know I do not like cliches, but it’s true… If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.
If you’re not planning, the self-care, the self-care is not going to just happen to you.
You’re not going to just say, “oh, I’m doing this thing that I love and enjoy. I’m doing this thing that I need.” More than likely, if you’re a busy mom, if you feel like you’re running from A to B to C to Z, you don’t feel like you have the time.
But with scheduling, you sit down, you evaluate your schedule and your days.
What are the staples of your day? What are the things that are repetitive? Make a list, write down what your day looks like, write down what your week looks like. And then plan your self-care.
Pick an activity, decide when you’re going to do it, and then do it. It’s really not complicated here. It’s not a big secret.
You just have to actually do this.
If you need help with scheduling out your week, you can check out my podcast episode, How to Structure Your Schedule as a Busy Mom.
You can also download this free Time Blocking Template I made to help you write everything out in one place!
Let Go of Perfection
The last thing I want to share is letting go of this idea of perfection.
Say, you’re sitting down to paint your nails because you really love to have painted nails, or they just make you feel better.
Well, you might sit down to paint your nails and your toddler may knock over the bottle of nail polish onto the table. Or you may get them painted, but then they don’t dry because you go grab the baby and it wipes off on your clothes… Things like this are going to happen. So let’s just lower this bar of perfection.
Let’s just lower the idea of what we think it has to look like, because things are going to happen. Things are going to come up.
It’s just not always going to go like we think it will. But that doesn’t mean we don’t make a plan. We still need to make the plan. You know, you can still care for yourself.
You can still care for your soul. You can still meet your needs in less than five minutes. If you’re intentional, you can get a whole lot done.
Because trust me, mama. Self-care is worth it. You are worth caring for.
You’re doing a great job taking care of everyone else. Now make some time to take care of yourself!