Since Olive arrived, I have noticed something that I had heard many mom’s before me talk about. Long before I was a mom, I thought that taking a shower was a necessity, changing clothes was a daily must, getting your hair cut regularly was a no-brainer, and eating meals at the right time of day just happened. Fast forward a few years and now I sit here writing this post, wearing the same clothes I have worn the last TWO days, hair an unshowered mess, no breakfast in my tummy, wondering did I brush my teeth? I think I did… But I’m not entirely sure.
It’s no surprise that life changes when a baby arrives. I’m not complaining at all. I could take pre-worn, unwashed yoga pants any day of the week, but reality starts to slowly trickle towards you and the idea of returning to work makes you realize it’s time to start taking care of YOURSELF as well. I admit… I haven’t had a hair cut since May, and I might shower every third day if Olive lets me. I rarely eat breakfast… If I do, it is usually around 11am when Olive naps. Over the last 10.5 months I’ve noticed that my life has changed and things that were important to me before, aren’t even on my radar now. I always make sure Olive is changed, and bathed, and fed, and sleeps on her schedule and my life fits in nicely around it. It’s not just me! I know you Momma’s who are reading this will agree with me. You stop taking care of yourself as soon as there are 10 little fingers and 10 little toes to watch. Why does this happen?
I made a New Years Resolution that seems like a typical one that most people to make every year. I will be the first to admit that I haven’t really taken care of myself as well as I should have since Olive arrived. Overall, my resolution is to live a healthier life. Not specifically to lose weight (of course, that would be a bonus!), but to eat healthier, to act healthier, to live healthier. I made a resolution to take care of myself… But to take care of myself, I had to understand why I haven’t been doing that.
Sometimes our picture of balanced and normal self care feels crazy far away and wildly unattainable. For me, sometimes when I don’t know where to start – I don’t start at all. I just keep living with my flag flying at half mast.
What I’ve found to be super helpful is to make a list starting with what would make me feel most normal and take baby steps from there. For me what I NEED most is 30 minutes to hour of my own time. When I first told Scott that I needed “Mommy time” I felt selfish. Why do I want time away from my sweet baby and husband? I didn’t approach this subject for many many months because I didn’t want to admit that sometimes I miss leaving the house without packing up a carseat, diaper bag, and snacks… But sometimes you just need this time to regroup… to feel independent… to re-energize yourself. I still haven’t had much “Mommy Time”, but that is why I made this resolution, right? Scott has been able to do many things while I stay home to watch Olive (ice fishing, snowmobiling, NHL games…), so I shouldn’t feel bad about asking Scott to stay home and watch Olive while I go for a much needed haircut and sushi date with my friend Whitney. I asked Scott to watch Olive last week while I had a nice, relaxing bath… I thought this would make my sore baby-carrying muscles feel better, but as soon as I stepped into the tub, I heard Olive screaming right outside the door. Instead of staying downstairs and trying to calm her down, Daddy decided she needed to be in the bedroom right outside the bathroom door the entire time. “Mommy Time” fail. We are still working on this!
In general, I need “Mommy Time” to feel like a normal person who eats health and exercises regularly to help me be a better mom and wife. I don’t need to wake up and be completely put together, but I need to know the cornerstones of the things that keep me from falling apart are there.
There are seasons where we can’t spend hours and hours taking intense care of ourselves, it’s a fact. There are days where I can’t find the time to shower or nights where caring for a sick baby is more important than a full night’s sleep. BUT I am noticing that there are times when I say I don’t have time to shower… eat a healthy breakfast… or exercise… but what I mean is I’d RATHER do x, y, and z. I often choose working on a new project at night over taking a shower and going to bed early. Or maybe I choose browsing instagram and pinterest over taking ten minutes to put on makeup… Although I rarely wore makeup before Olive was here, so maybe makeup isn’t a good example!
There may be days or hours where we genuinely don’t have time to take care of ourselves, but let’s be sure it’s not that we’re choosing to use our minutes to do something that may seem relaxing, but is not actually helping us.
Let’s cut to the chase. There is ALWAYS someone who will be on our team if we need help to really take care of ourselves. It’s to our everyone’s benefit (especially yours) that we look and feel like women who CARE and remember that we are women. I have a feeling that most husbands will genuinely want to help us – don’t you? After that – do you have a mom or mother in law nearby? A sister? There is always someone who will be willing to step in to help, you just have to get up the courage to ask. I know its hard. This past week has been a real doozy for both Scott and I. Olive is fighting a bladder infection that has kept us up all night long for a week (and counting). The poor little girl just cannot get comfortable and screams at the top of her lungs just when I thought we could finally get some sleep. We are in desperate need of sleep, and asking someone to watch her for a few hours would help so much… I just have to make myself realize that it is okay to admit that you need help sometimes. Trying to be the strong “I-can-do-anything” mom just isn’t always ideal.
Sometimes I don’t want to try to cute myself up because I feel like – womp, womp – I’m a mom. I have no idea about fashion (even if I was living in my old world – I still had no idea). I forget how to do my own makeup and I may have a grey root or two… Bad excuse though, right? Pinterest. For all the hate pinterest gets about making us all strivey and comparison-y, it can be a huge tool to help us feel checked in and knowledgeable about how to care for ourselves. If it’s not pinterest for you, grab a magazine, or plan a self-care-girl’s-night. Don’t feel silly that you’re out of touch. Just get back in as quick as you can, as much as you need to.
I think the biggest thing I see in my heart and the women I’ve talked to is that we tend to do a massive knee jerk where taking care of ourselves is concerned. We’re worried we’re too selfish, so we replace selfless with a strange form of self abuse. We see other women abuse the ability to care for themselves, so we deem it all an unworthy cause. Or maybe we’ve been the women who abused the time and resources given us and we’re scared we’ll go off on an indulgent tangent again.
I am really looking forward to the year ahead as I strive to live a healthier life. The first 24 days have gone fairly well and I already feel like a new person. Remember… You do have to put yourself first sometimes!
Olive says “GO MOMMA’S GO!”