How I Stay Happy Without ‘Self Care’ as a Mommy

October 14

happy mom picking up her baby

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The term ‘Self Care’ has been thrown around Mommy circles for the past few years now. I was one of those passionate believers in Self Care. But those days are long gone and I am doing much better than when I practiced it on a regular basis. There is still a small place for Self Care in my life, but it is NOT my priority.

Self Care Definition

“Self Care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”

The Oxford Dictionary

Now-a-days, the meaning of Self Care leans towards going to the spa, getting your nails done, going out with friends, or getting a massage. They say now that Self Care is a necessity, not an indulgence. I beg to differ.

I am NOT against self-care. Actually, I LOVE self-care. It’s just that if I prioritize Self Care too much in my life, it is counter-productive to how I want to be as a Mommy.

My mind naturally goes into ‘selfish mode’ and when I come back to my kids from Self Care, I am still thinking about Self Care, not my kids needs. I am not present with my children. All I can think about is how these little monstrosities are keeping me from my precious Self Care.

Sure I do the occasional Mommy Self Care things, when I really have the time for it. But it is not what gives me lasting daily joy.

The term Self Care has been misconstrued over the past couple years. Adjusting the connotation of the word back to what is is supposed to mean is important, so Mommies can get what they really need from Self Care again. So Mommies can actually feel joy WHILE Momming.

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Self Care vs Basic Care

I said that I don’t really Self Care, but I do make sure I do Basic Care. I make sure that my basic needs are met so that I can be at my best for my family.

A lot of what people consider to be Self Care, falls more under the category of Basic Care.

By Basic Care I mean that I make sure to take care of myself like I would my kids. I make sure to eat every few hours (trying to choose healthier options), I take my vitamins and my green drink, I try to get enough sleep, and most importantly, I take a wonderfully LONG shower every night.

That last one may push the boundaries of Basic Care to Self Care only because of the lengthy nature of the shower.

For me, Basic Care is Self Care. To a certain extent. As long as I get my basic needs met for the day, I am in a pretty good place. As a mostly stay-at-home-mom, it can be very difficult to make time for anything more than just basic care.

Self Care was Not Working For Me

self care meter on max, in the red

Being a Mommy is a 24/7 job. It is NOT a part-time job, it is not even a full-time job. 24/7.

I was Self Caring as much as I could, trying to make myself feel better, yet I was still miserable.

As time went on, I began to realize that this whole Self Care thing was NOT working for me. I would feel better in the moment, then feel almost worse when I had to got back to my current Momming situation. I didn’t feel like it ‘filled my cup’ for the long run. The effects fizzles away so fast.

Prior to Turning into Mommy, I was generally a very happy person. Then Postpartum Depression hit me hard, twice. And I could never feel quite ‘caught up’ enough in life to get a handle of this Mommy thing.

“If I could just get this baby to sleep longer that a couple hours at a time at night, I will be able to work on my temper.”

“When the baby stops this growth spurt, and actually gets off my boob for a minute, then I will be able to work on myself.”

“If I could just get all this housework under control, then I could find time to try and be a better Mommy.”

Eventually, I came to the realization that I will never really be caught up. And that I will never really get that much sleep. And that I will never really find the extra time I wanted to work on myself, even if he did get off my boob.

I had to learn that I need to go with the flow of the life I that I am currently living. But how do I actually do that?

Self Investment Rather than Self Care

to do list saying be better

Instead of Self Care, I now use practice Self Investment. In a way, Self Investment can be considered a type of Self Care. More of a mental type of Self Care, if you will, not your traditional ‘take a break from your current situation’ Self Care.

When I tell myself I am investing in myself rather than self caring, I fell less like a selfish mom and more like a mom who cares enough about herself and her family to grow and learn to be a better, happier human being.

But the difference is that you are not trying to make yourself feel better. You are not trying to take a mini-break away from your current difficult to deal with situation. You are trying to work on yourself THROUGH the difficult situation, and still be okay while dealing with it.

Make your growth as a person the priority. Learn to be happy in your current situation. I could not even appreciate all that I have gained because I was so focused on what I lost when I became a mom. Oh, how I was yearning for days past, and not living in the now.

I want to be an example to my kids and show them that I am capable of happily being able handling any situation without having to retreat all the time to some sort of Self Care to help me try to feel better about not being able to handle life.

My Nemesis

upset baby in crib

Parenting. I know, I know. . . But it is.

It is the hardest thing in the world to do right. Anyone can parent terribly, but trying to do it the best way possible is just so difficult.

Dealing with lack of sleep, lack of time, breastfeeding way too often, terrible twos, treacherous threes, and a general lack of owning your own body, makes parenting my daily nemesis.

I have a controlling personality, in disguise. Before kids it sure did seem like I had an easy going personality, but after kids, the controlling one started to rear it’s ugly head.

I start to become controlling when under a lot of stress because I feel out of control. It is my way of feeling like I have a handle on the situation at hand. But the problem with that is that when something in my ‘well controlled world’ goes wrong, which it inevitably does because that is life, I FREAK OUT.

The unrelenting nature of being a Mommy is something that I had to learn to get used to. From there I had to learn to find joy in it. It is difficult to find joy in something if you don’t even have the coping mechanisms to deal with getting used to it yet.

Here are Self Investment practices that work wonders for me:

Deep Breathing Through Challenging Situations

poster stating breathe next to 2 succulents

I used to mentally check out whenever anything didn’t go how I wanted it to go. Which actually ends up being quite a bit of my day. I would reminisce about the past, about what I am missing out on now that I have kids. Or I would daydream about the day that I would get a full nights sleep in a few years.

Now, instead of NOT dealing with the situation at hand (which is basically what I was doing before), or worse, lashing out, I close my eyes, take a deep, deep breath, sometimes a few deep breaths, and try my best to RELAX.

Being tense or upset is never the way to deal with your kids. It will always end up bad. They will feel and feed off your energy.

Scientifically, when you take deep enough and slow enough breaths, it stimulates something called the vagus nerve in your body. The vagus nerve sends signals to your brain to actually slow your heart rate and release ‘love’ hormones.

Slow deep breathing is natures beautiful way of giving us the control switch to be able to calm ourselves down.

Mantras

Even if you give someone who is depressed and miserable a million dollars it is NOT going to be happy (at least not for long). Ingrained in their mind are certain tendencies in negative thinking.

Learn to ingrain happy and thankful thought tendencies in your mind and it will start to change your outlook on everything.

An easy way to do this is to incorporate, what some circles call, mantras into your daily practice. Actually, it can be an all day thing some days, not just daily.

Find a mantra that resonates with you and what you want to exhibit as a person and memorize it. Anytime you feel the bad tendencies coming on, say it. You can say it in your head, or out loud. But stopping and saying this mantra should help give you some space, some time to think on how you would like to react to this specific situation.

The simple mantra that works for me is:

“EVERYTHING IS EXACTLY AS IT SHOULD BE”

This mantra helps me to relax when I feel like I don’t like a situation. It helps remind me when I feel the tendency to try and control what is going on, to try and do something to make myself feel better about it. Usually that something is snapping, or yelling at my poor kids.

It helps me to:

“Learn to be stronger than your tendencies.”

Michael A. Singer

Saying this mantra helps slow everything down and stops my knee-jerk reaction to these ‘undesirable situations.’

It gives me the few extra seconds I need to set my mind right so I can handle the situation with the love and understanding that the situation requires of me. I can handle it in a calm and clear state. This way the outcome turns out positive, not negative.

Learning to Meditate

meditation for self care

I used to do a lot of yoga before my kids. Often times, at the end of the class the instructor would do a sort-of guided meditation for a few minutes to close out the session. Back then meditations didn’t sit right with me. I felt that it was a waste of time, a bunch of nonsense and I was never able to fully relax.

Thank goodness I came to realize that meditation has so many positives to help with your growth as a person.

And it doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out process. I only do 10-15 minutes twice a day. In the morning before my kids wake up, and after my shower at night when the kids are asleep.

Meditating is a daily, minute by minute learning and growing experience. But the times when I can successfully pull this off, it is a TRIUMPH! That is what brings me joy as a mother.

How Meditating Brings Me Joy

Evidence based research shows a myriad of health benefits to practicing meditation.

But the most significant aspect of a daily meditation practice is exactly that. Practice. You are practicing how to stay calm, clear, and centered when you mediate.

Most humans can be impatient, reactive, and can’t always stay calm. I know I definitely this way.

But we can practice being calm, clear, and centered through meditating. We can practice being aware in the current moment, rather than retreating away with thoughts of how the past was or what the future could be.

Then when a real life situation rears it’s ugly head (aka terrible twos), we are able to deal with it calmly, see it clearly for what it is, and not get pulled into the drama by staying centered.

Knowing that I have dealt with a difficult situation in the BEST way I could possibly have handled it is how I get through the tough times of mothering. Finding peace and joy in every moment is a gift beyond what anything else in this world can offer you. Practicing meditation allows you to find this peace and joy.

The Book that Change Everything

How did all this start for me?

In the midst of my second bout of PPD, I was zoned out, trying to watch “The View” while taking care of my 2 year old and my newborn. It was summer time and each of the woman were going over their favorite summer must reads.

Sarah Haines was making her recommendations and she was talking about a book that was literally BLOWING HER MIND and actually CHANGING her life.

It was The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer.

I immediately bought the Kindle version so I could read it whenever I found a few minutes of quiet, then I signed up for Audible and downloaded it from there so I could listen to it when I was doing chores or driving.

It hands down was the best thing I ever did for myself!

Oh Michael A. Singer, how I adore you! You have change the trajectory of my life. After postpartum depression, I was not in a great place. I didn’t ever feel like my old happy self, and I was angry at any little thing that went wrong. I felt I was not getting better at a fast enough rate to where my children would not be affected.

Thankfully, this book made it’s way into my life. I still go back and listen to The Untethered Soul AND his other book The Surrender Experiment every few months with Audible. I also listen to his teachings whenever I can.

All the Self Investment techniques I talk about here are straight from this amazing book and his teachings. Thank you Sarah Haines!

I Leave You With This

happy woman dancing in the rain
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
-Vivian Greene

Don’t waste any more Self Care time on binge watching a Netflix series, going out for a drink with co-workers, or getting yet another pedicure that really only makes you feel good for the 20 minutes you are sitting there.

Work on yourself, invest in yourself. Eventually these Self Investment practices will turn into habits. And eventually these habits will evolve into your character.

Watch your thoughts,

for they become words.

Watch your words,

for they become actions.

Watch your actions,

for they become habits.

Watch your habits,

for they become your character.

And watch your character,

for it becomes your destiny.

ambiguous original author

So rather than trying to practice Self Care, why not try something deeper, more satisfying, and something that can actually make a real difference on the your daily life? Self Investment will do this for you.

Any time that you work on yourself, invest in yourself, is never a waste and will only lead to growth.

Don’t your children and family deserve a happier, healthier you? Don’t you deserve to feel good every day, and not have everything bother you? A happy Mommy will help foster a happy family and a happy life. And isn’t that what we all strive for when we are trying to Self Care?

happy mom with young son hanging upside down

What is your version of Self Investment? How do you stay happy as a Mommy? I would love to hear from you! Email me or leave me a comment below. . .

All the love,

-Jen

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2 Comments
    1. I love this concept! I feel the same. I know self care is important. But it’s started to feel like some trendy societal obligation instead of actually taking care of myself. Like I need to go get a massage but getting there is so stressful I forget to brush my teeth before I leave, haha.

      1. That is EXACTLY it! Taking care of yourself is super important, but not out of some ‘trendy societal obligation’ (perfectly stated). You should be doing it to learn how to be happy with your life as a Mommy. And I understand about forgetting to brush your teeth, LOL! I will dress nice for a non-kid function and accidentally wear my ugly comfy sandals with it. . . UGH!

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