Amanda Newhouse, LICSW, PCIT Level- I Trainer, IMH-E® is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked in behavioral health with children and families for over 16 years. For the past 6 years, she has placed her focus on mothers with children under 5 years old. She shares that perhaps her most important accomplishment is being a mother of two for the past 22 years.
Who Suffers When There’s No Self Care?
One of the most difficult concepts to put into practice, when you are a mother, is self-care. “Self” is not a word that comes to mind when you are a mother. Your hair is decorated with cheerios, your clothes are saturated with bleach or food stains, and your name is a constant echo. But who really suffers when we don’t care for ourselves? Who usually get’s the irritability that follows?
Often, I hear the overextended mother say, “How am I supposed to take care of myself when I have three other individuals depending on me?” The reality is, that you have to care of yourself before you can truly be present for others. Don’t forget, you need to place your oxygen mask on first before you place the mask on others. Stress is natural and self-care is your oxygen mask.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is an amazing resource created by Congress in 2000 as part of the Children’s Health Act. The providers identify three basic concepts to self-care:
Awareness is necessary for self-care. So slow down, mamma! Take time between the schoolwork, snack time, and nap time to check in with yourself and notice the emotions you are feeling. It is important that you are able to regulate your own emotions before helping others.
Balance is the second concept. Finding balance in all areas of your life takes the awareness you have built from the first concept, awareness. Identify how to balance life, leisure, work, family, friends, social media, school, and all other life happenings. What do you need to do to ensure you are able to rest and relax? I know, you “can’t” or “there is not enough time in the day.” But there is – so, slow down, mamma!
Connection is important to your mental health. The best way to reduce stress is to connect to others. Relating with other parents or experiencing the same struggles provides a connection that allows you to feel some relief that you are not the only one experiencing these struggles. Even better, is the thought that you could help others connect by sharing your story, your celebrations, your struggles, all through your journey. So slow down, mamma!
The little ones in our lives are watching us constantly. Let’s show them how to manage stress and regulate emotions a healthy way!
- Make time for self-reflection – make a conscious effort to check in with yourself.
- Keep a journal – get those thoughts and emotions out of your head and on paper–even the scary or ugly thoughts.
- Check–in on others – make those connections and be intentional toward building healthy relationships.
- Pay attention to sleep, health, and nutrition – Find good sleep habits, don’t put off your doctor’s appointments, and be mindful to have healthy snacks. Sometimes even adding a couple glasses of water does wonders for your health.
- Find things you enjoy – Rock those favorite earrings, even if it is to your living room. Put some of that make up on, even it’s to make dinner.
Take the time to enjoy you!