Self-care for working moms

5/15/2017  By Thirty Percenters

May 15, 2017 

This Women's Health Week, we asked six working moms to share their struggles and secrets of success when it comes to taking time for self-care. Thumbnail photo:

The Moms

Michele, 45
(kids ages 13 & 15)
  Brandis, 33
(son, 4)
  Mary, 38
(kids ages 7, 10, 12)
  Lisa, 42
(son, 20 months)
Brandee, 34
(kids ages 7 & 9)
April, 43
(kids ages 9, 12, 16)

Their Voices

I am able to take care of my children's needs without neglecting my own.

Michele: I wish, but not usually.

Brandis: I wish, but not usually. When I want to do something special for just myself, I at times feel guilty - either self-inflicted, or my son expressing how much he’ll miss me and to not go and play with him instead. Sometimes I cave and stay home and other times, for both of our benefits, I put me as a priority and take care of myself.

Mary: I laugh at you!

Lisa: I wish, but not usually. It can be a challenge finding down time when there is an extremely active toddler in the house, so I often find myself staying up later than I should at night simply because it’s the only time I have completely to myself. This makes the struggle to get out of bed in time to fit in my morning workout even tougher, so it’s a vicious cycle but definitely a work in progress!

Brandee: Doing better at this, but their needs definitely come first!

April: My initial reaction is “I laugh at you!” This is something I continue to work on but my kids are my first priority and I know the day is going to come too fast when they are off to college and doing their own thing. Two times in a row now, I have made it to my 6 month dental cleaning without cancelling. That’s a good start! 

An ideal Mother's Day for me would be:

Michele: A day with my family where they take care of every meal and chore in the house, but still have time to go out and do something fun together.

Brandis: Have breakfast with my family (where I don’t have to cook or clean up the mess) and go and spend the day doing something relaxing for myself like a nice massage and wine tasting. While I’m gone, either my husband and son or the cleaning fairies clean my entire house from top to bottom and put away all of the clothes that have been in the clean clothes basket or in the dryer for the constant de-wrinkle cycle. Then I would enjoy a nice evening playing baseball in the backyard with my guys and a nice dinner and dessert that I didn’t have to cook.

Mary: A clean house, laundry washed, folded and put away, meals made so I don’t have to worry about any of it and I can just enjoy the day with my children, doing what I enjoy. OH! And having a day off from being a referee between them!

Lisa: Sleep in, fun family outing like a bike ride, husband preps all the food for the week, husband makes dinner, then in bed by 8:30. Perfecto!

Brandee: Sunshine and no wind! And planting flowers with my girls and a nice family BBQ!

April: Spend the day with my husband and children doing something like a trip to the zoo, a baseball game, or a day hike on an easy trail. Then when we get home they cook dinner and just enjoy an evening at home. Don’t need anything fancy for sure, just time away from the house so I don’t think about cleaning, yardwork or laundry.

I have plans to dedicate more time to self-care. Soon.

Michele: Ideally yes, but that will have to wait until the kids go to college.

Brandis: If you would have asked me this question a couple of months ago, I would have told you no, I’m doing fine right now, thanks, but I would have been lying to you. My answer today is heck, yes! I can’t put this off! I have put everyone else as a priority over myself, it just comes naturally to me I guess, but I’ve finally gotten to the point where my son is becoming more independent (which is relieving and scary at the same time) and my husband is very helpful if I just ask. I’m also a stubborn person so for too long I’ve always just wanted people to step in and help and not have me ask, but I have finally realized I’m not exactly Wonder Woman, I can’t do it all. But I sure will give it my best shot.

Mary: Ideally, yes, but… life

Lisa: Heck, yes! I can’t put this off!

Brandee: I have lots of fun planned this summer for myself and my girls too!

April: Heck, yes! I always have plans to make my appointments. Things just sometimes don’t work out.

My best advice to moms struggling with self-care is...

Michele: Invest in a good lock on your bedroom door… and buy good wine.

Brandis: No one else will take care of us in the end, we have to take care of ourselves. If we don’t take care of ourselves now, we won’t be of much help to truly enjoy our families as they continue to grow older. Yes the perfect house that is always clean, dishes always done, food always healthy, and clothes always put away would be nice. But if you’re like me, I can’t afford a live-in housekeeper so I am going to not stress and sweat the little things. Never neglect it all, it will be there, it won’t go away, but don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Mary: I am in no position to give advice on this subject, but I would say that in order to be a good mother to your children, your physical and mental health is paramount, especially if you are a single mom.  Putting yourself last benefits no one, least of all your children.  Getting a pedicure, taking a nap, catching up on your favorite show, going out with a friend and having “me” time in order to decompress and refresh your outlook is the most unselfish thing you can do.  Happy mom, happy kids.

Lisa: Go easy on yourself and adjust your expectations from what they were pre-children. With a child or children in the picture, even 10 minutes of “me” time, whatever that is for you, is better than nothing. This includes exercise, deep breathing, reading a book, watching Real Housewives….whatever makes you feel more centered. Even if you were a fitness rockstar pre-children, be kind to yourself and know that 10 minutes of walking/running/stretching/whatever is still progress and something to be proud of.

Brandee: Just know that you can’t do it all, all the time. Sometimes the dishes and the laundry just have to wait. Savor the snuggles!

April: I may not be the right one to comment on this since I struggle myself, but I do consistently try to make myself a priority because I know if I don’t take care of myself I cannot be there to take care of my family. Schedule things out, plan ahead so you can make arrangements when needed. Even a couple minutes of meditation helps. Don’t feel bad relying on other moms, it's ok to ask for help!

Managed by Kittitas Valley Healthcare, Thirty Percenters does not provide medical advice. For medical advice, please see your healthcare professional.