Dear Mothers: You can’t take care of others if you do not take care of yourself

Black mother

I thought the days of sleepless nights would pass after the first year, but I’m sure as I am saying this you’re rolling your eyes saying to yourself “you wish”. And you are correct, boy was I wrong.

It hit me the other day while at the park with my 3 and 5-year-old boys. They were, surprisingly, playing nice with each other, and that’s an understatement, they were playing amazing with each other, and as a result, I found myself having an opportunity to reflect and relax in my own thoughts. As parents, we know this is a precious and rare occasion. While doing so I caught myself lying on a slide with wild boys running around me and thinking to myself “wow, I could totally fall asleep right here on this children’s slide at the park”. Then, it hit me, I had been up since 5 am, working since the crack of dawn, balancing kids, breakfast, dressing, work, OT therapy for my eldest son, then errands and I think somewhere in there I may have eaten lunch…maybe. Then I had about an hour before dinner to take the kids to the park and this is when I realized, I’m tired. I’m tired because I only got about 4 hours of sleep last night because my 3-year-old was restless, I was tired because I couldn’t fall asleep until midnight because my mind was racing on everything I needed to do the next day, I was tired because I had literally not stopped ALL day long. But, what hit me even harder was that this just felt normal, this was my normal mom routine. I go without hesitation without thought. I just DO.

It’s sad to say that I must remind myself to take care of ME. Let’s face it, who else is going to do it? There comes a time when we must stop thinking about others and start thinking about how we can take care of ourselves. I will admit, I am not very good at this. I am unhealthy, not as active as I should be. I find myself easily irritated and frustrated over the dumbest things, which frustrates me even more because I am overreacting. It’s a snowball effect that I know we all find ourselves in from time to time. We have to STOP, stop thinking about what you're going to make for dinner 2 weeks from now, stop thinking about doing the kids’ laundry, stop thinking about that deadline at work that has you stressing out beyond belief, just stop, and think about you!

Allow yourself to take a break, to stop and think about what you need to do to nurture you. Do what makes you happy, which will be different for everyone. This may be getting your nails done for some people and going hunting for others. It may mean lying in your room, ALONE, for 30 minutes with music on or simply just taking a walk outside and reflecting on ones “self”. We’ve heard it time and time again; you’re on the airplane and their giving those mind-numbingly boring instructions on what you should do if something bad happens, and you should be paying attention, but you aren’t because your wiping boogers from someone’s nose or preventing a wrestling match from happening in aisle 23. The most important part of that entire safety speech is to put your oxygen mask on before assisting someone else. This pertains to every part of your life, little did you know. You can’t take care of others if you do not take care of yourself. So do yourself, your family, and everyone else surrounding you a favor, and take care of you, nurture you!
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