36. Hot Coffee is Self Care
Being a mother is not all you are. It's just a single part of your identity. At least it should be.
So often motherhood takes so much of us that we forget who we are outside of that. I have learned that we have to be intentional about discovering and nurturing who we are beyond just being moms. I use my journal not as a diary, but as a place to write out positive affirmations and set my intentions for the day. When I set my intentions for the day, I always include time for myself. Setting your intentions doesn't have to be drawn out or time consuming. I wake up and before I get out of the bed, I take a few deep breaths and say something as simple as, "Today will be a good day. I will be patient. I will give and receive love. I will take time for myself".
In addition to manifesting love and positivity in to my life, I put effort into actually doing self care. Let's be real. When we lose ourselves in motherhood, we lose it all. Definitely as a stay at home or work from home mom. Yoga pants and lightly (sometimes not so lightly) stained tanks and tees start to be considered getting dressed for the day. And does anyone else get that feeling of defeat when you put even a drop of effort into an outfit to go out (for work, errands, school, meetings, whatever) and realize there's spit up on the outfit? Or, maybe not spit up. Maybe, your toddler touched you with their messy hands before you left. We might stop detangling our hair as often as we should and just start throwing it together in the infamous messy bun. Showers become a group activity with toddlers and if we steal a shower to ourselves, its lasts hopefully 5 solid minutes before someone is knocking at the bathroom door needing something. And, on the very best days, eyeliner is considered a full face of makeup. If any of that resonates with you at all, its time to start caring for yourself at least half as much as you're caring for everyone else.
I read this article recently that said showers are not self care. I am here to tell you that for me showers are absolutely self care. Showering is taking care of yourself. There is nothing quite like taking a long, hot, uninterrupted shower or bath. Washing your hair with leisure. Exfoliating. Just standing under the hot water and breathing. Its a real treat to get out and be able to moisturize and do your hair and then lotion your entire body. That is all self care and it is so restorative. Of course professional massages, hanging with friends, shopping trips dedicated to you, date nights, hair appointments, and all the like, are self care. But we can't always do that. And if mom life for you is anything like mom life or me, you cant do those things most of the time. Its okay to start small and start convenient.
Daily self-care for me is writing in my journal. Just complimenting myself and giving myself all the thanks that we as moms deserve but don't get enough of. In my journal, I call refer to myself only by Sis and Queen. "Sis you rocked that germination lesson today". "Queen, you are amazing, worthy, and valuable". One of the great things about positive affirmations is you keep saying them and you start to believe them. Take your mental health seriously. Motherhood can really wear down on us. I am intentional about taking time to recognize my accomplishments and my wins with no "buts". Not, I worked really hard today but I didn't get to this task". Just "I worked really hard today" period. Give yourself grace and take time to be intentional about focusing on positivity only. That may seem like a small thing but it's huge. It can make you feel so much more positive. It is taking care of yourself aka self-care.
Self care for me is finishing an entire HOT cup of coffee. Not having to reheat it 30 times over the course of an hour before just abandoning it, which was my usual. I do my best to wake up before the kids. This allows me time to have my coffee peacefully and finish it while its hot. That doesn't always happen though. I have to toddlers with autism and sleep is a struggle for them. However, I have zero guilt about saying to my littles "mommy is finishing her coffee, can I have a minute?". Sometimes it can't but sometimes they say yes and just scurry off. I am so thankful for those mornings.
Also self care, sleeping in when you can. You don't even have to be sleep. Laying in the bed, in no rush, is so refreshing. This one can be hard to get as a mom. But self-care is also asking for help when you need it. Not carrying the entire load when you don't have to. On the weekends, I ask my husband if he has the next morning covered. I am an early riser by nature but he will bring me a cup of coffee and sit it on the nightstand and leave the room and take care of the kids. Completely guilt free, I will lay in the bed, drink my coffee, play my favorite songs on the alexa, and just relax. Some days, it means calling my mom like, "Please can you get your grandkids?". I will drive over in pajamas, drop them off, drive home, order delivery, and get back in the bed. But, sometimes there is no one. And I just turn the TV on to PBS Kids in my room, content knowing whatever show that plays is educational. The kids hang out in my bed or the hammock or bring their blankets and make a spot on the floor. I pull out my snack stash and they munch on graham crackers and I just go back to sleep. Some days that's just all I have to give. I have learned to be okay with that. They are safe, fed, close, and comfortable. They are taken care of and so I close my eyes and lay back down so that I am taking care of myself.
You know what else is self care? Doing your nails. Honestly, getting your nails done. But, you may not be able to do it as often as you like. So start doing it for yourself. I have fallen in love with Colorstreet nails. I had no idea what I was getting into when I was invited to a Colorstreet party. Now their nail strips are my new obsession. Why? Because, there is zero dry time. I have been able to craft the most amazing manicures at home myself in just a few minutes. One thing I hated was how often my nails were undone and just raggedy. And, on the rare occasion that I tried to paint them, one of this kids always needed me before they would dry. So I just gave up and let them look awful until I discovered the convenience of nail strips. Find what works for you! Press on nails are AMAZING! And if you are luckier then me and have kids that sleep and you can steal some time for yourself, the dip kits are also wonderful. Another quick pick me up, magnetic lashes! I have had zero success with regular lashes and trying to glue them on. Especially not with the kids up and running, nagging me for fruit snacks or the iPad passcode. Magnetic liner is a game changer. Liquid liner that dries and then the lashes just stick right on. Now I can go out and play pretend looking like one of those moms that has it all together instead of looking like the chaos that is motherhood. It is okay to start small and to start convenient.
Do you remember life before kids? Do you remember the things that used to bring you joy? I love to turn the music up and just dance it out. (My Grey's Anatomy fans know what I'm talking about!) I will turn on my favorite playlist and just dance sometimes. I also used to love to read. I don't have the time to read at the same pace I did pre-kids. But I have been intentional about starting to read again. Some days it might be one chapter. Other days, it might only be one page. But, I'm reading again. Progress is the key.
Think about what used to bring you joy. Make time to get back into it. Discover your interests, hobbies, and talents. The things that make you, YOU.
As an early childhood educator, we focus not just on the academics but on the whole child. All areas of development. As adults, we need to focus on our whole selves, and all areas of our wellness.