Why Taking Care of Yourself Makes You a Great Mom

Every mom wants to do her very best and know that her child feels loved and happy and secure. As moms, the stakes feel really high. Really high, and that’s mainly because we’re raising humans, so there aren’t any do-overs. Lots of do-betters, but no do-overs. And with all that pressure to succeed, we put absolutely everything into our child for the sake of being a good mom.

And then we discover that we messed up on the math

When we empty ourselves out for our child, we leave nothing left for ourselves and with nothing left, what do we have to give?

Not much.

According to Wikipedia, a martyr is “someone who suffers persecution or death for their beliefs.” So a “martyr mother” is someone who suffers for her belief that the only way she can be a good mom is to give ALL of herself to parenting, despite the fact that she is running on empty: zero time and energy for herself. That’s one burned out mom.

And it doesn’t have to be that way.

But it’s common for moms to lose sight of interests and desires that were part of her identity before entering motherhood. While making your child a priority is absolutely essential, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice yourself in the process.

The truth is: by taking care of yourself, you’re giving your child the best version of yourself—the parent you desire to be and the parent your child deserves.

My concern was losing myself to being a mom. I’m very independent and I think the advice was great to take an hour for myself each day and tell my husband that it needs to happen so I don’t lose my mind.
— Mom-to-be at Boot Camp for New Moms
Realize that you’re continually giving to your child and your mind and body need replenishing. Make it a priority to take care of yourself, so you aren’t depleted and running on empty.
— Vet Mom at Boot Camp for New Moms

So, how do you go about taking care of your baby and still find time to take care of you?

You make a plan and set realistic goals.

Be diligent about carving out time for yourself, because there will always be plenty to get in the way. Talk to your partner to strategize ways to free up time for yourself (and he needs the time to himself, too). Consider your resources for childcare (family, friends, babysitters), or plan for a window of time to yourself on the weekends.

Appreciate the small moments, because even small blocks of time add up and make a big difference. If you’re an introverted mom, taking time for yourself is a must for staying emotionally balanced. A nice long shower, a walk, a hobby, exercise, reading, napping, or seeing a friend: If it makes you happy, say YES.

Refuse to feel guilty. This is a big one. You DO NOT have to feel any guilt for taking care of yourself, for doing things that make you happy. If you’re happy, your entire family benefits, and it makes you a happier, more effective mom. If you’re returning to work for financial reasons, no guilt. If you’re returning to work for personal fulfillment, no guilt. NO GUILT, MOMS!

Don’t use motherhood as an excuse to avoid time for you, because that leads to martyr mother, which benefits no one, especially you. Value the importance of self-care and make it happen.

Set an example for your child. The best way to teach your child the importance of self-care is take care of yourself; your actions are showing your child how to live. So, if you are valuing self-love and care, your child will learn to value it, too.

We should keep growing within ourselves, nurture our own interests, strive to reach goals that have nothing to do with our kids. Because our kids won’t remember the times we were ten minutes late to pick-up or failed to wash their jerseys or helped them with their homework or made them chocolate chip pancakes. They’ll remember the way we smiled and laughed and embraced life.
— Janis Thomas, Mom & Author