My friend who is a reporter and mom of three asked me about tips for keeping your sanity over the holidays to share with her audience. We emailed back and forth and she compiled the info and tips below. And in an effort to take my own advice about doing less, I’m reusing it (with her permission of course) to share with you all.
What is self-care and what does it really look like?
Self-care is simply the things we do for ourselves that are essential for our health and well being. I tend to think of self-care a hierarchy. We start with the basics of sleep, nutrition, and exercise. We build up from there to things like spending time with friends, creative activities, and spiritual practices.
Why is it so important for moms to make this a priority?
You are your best gift to this crazy world. It’s not your kids or your career. It is how you, as a whole person, enter into all of the things of your life. It’s like the oxygen on the airplane. You will be no good to anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself. I often remind moms that their kids deserve the best mom they can be, but ultimately, I want moms to be their best because they know they are worth it. Period.
We’re not just talking about manicures and massages here. What are some important self-care things moms can do to for themselves?
Here’s the difficult part, self-care is not a one size fits all thing. Self-care is intimately connected to our self-awareness and and our self-understanding. Self-awareness is about knowing how you are doing in the moment. These are when those basic three things come in really strongly.
Are you exhausted and need go to bed early?
Have you been running around doing things for everyone else and not stopped to put one healthy thing in your mouth?
Have you been stuck in the house with sick kids and your body feels like it might explode from simply not being able to freely move?
Sleep, eat and exercise. These things are essential.
Self-Understanding is really knowing yourself as an individual, what restores and excites you, what nourishes you. A big challenge with self-understanding is that it seems like life was one big rush to accomplish things. College, career, romance/marriage, babies…It was exhausting just to get here. There is no way around it. We all need to slow down, even if just for a moment to understand what will really restore us.
Do you need to go out and walk or run alone? Do you need to have an uninterrupted conversation with a close friend? While we see other women a good bit, when our kids are around, our attention is divided and our ability to really be honest and vulnerable is so limited. Do you have a creative outlet, like art or writing? Do you love to go out and have a blast with friends? Do you love to dive in to a great book? That is mine. I love the crafting of words. I’m fascinated by an author’s ability to string together words to transport me, educate me, challenge me. I knew I was in trouble when I couldn’t remember the last book I had read, and I knew I was going to be ok when my husband gave me a biography of Thomas Jefferson. In that moment, it was like he really saw me and handed me this little key back to myself.
There is only so much time in a day and moms typically spend the whole day taking care of everyone else. How can we find/make the time to focus on ourselves?
How can we enjoy that “me time” without feeling guilty about it?
This is something I’m pretty passionate about. I am done with the submissive, servant, martyr woman archetype. Don’t buy into that line that you are selfish and run from anyone who speaks it to you! You are worthy and valuable. That body of yours made babies, or is raising babies. It a miracle and a lot of work. Honor that and take care of yourself. In the quiet moments, lean in to your own wisdom. What is that deep truth inside you saying? Inside of you there is a place where you know how valuable and worthy you are. Listen to that. Honor that.
The holidays can be completely overwhelming, how can we weave this practice into the holiday madness and why should we?
Oh gosh. This topic makes me sweat! It’s just so hard. Grandparents are so excited about having the magic of a baby or little kids for the holidays. And let be honest…It is pretty amazing. If we can let go of the idea of obligations, we are on the right track.
Sure there are great family traditions that have kept people connected, but they may just not work for your family this year. Remember that internal wisdom you have. Give that some space to help you make these decisions. If you are thinking through an upcoming event and you know it will exhaust everyone and just thinking about it drains you, don’t go. Figure out what you will say to decline or cancel and stick to it. “Mom, that has always been so fun in the past, but it just isn’t going to work for my family this year. I’m sorry” Don’t give extensive explanations or excuses because this just leads to arguments and guilt. Stick to your decision, and repeat yourself if necessary.
Once you clear your schedule some, look at the things you and your partner want to do. Time to edit this list too. Talk through the top priorities. Make sure you have time for them and then schedule in some margin. How many mornings do you guys want to stay in pajamas until lunch? What night are you going to bathe the kids early so you can drive around and look at lights? Figuring out your holidays is a process. Throughout each season and from one year to the next it is important to look at what is working and what isn’t.
What are your top tips to keeping our sanity over the holidays?
My tradition: My kids are a little bigger now, so one of the last nights of the holiday break, we take all the ornaments off the tree and put up all the decorations. But here is the fun part. With just the lone tree and white lights, we push the living room furniture back, and have a slumber party. We watch some cartoon holiday movie of their choice and then fall asleep with the soft glow of Christmas lights. My husband and I also have a bottle of champagne on Christmas eve as we wrap presents and prepare for Christmas morning. It helps remind us that we have so much to celebrate.
–Mom’s with littles, Kelli Patterson wants to educate you, encourage you and make you laugh. Check out The Mom Report: https://www.themomreport.co