Having a Motherhood Identity Crisis?

Having a Motherhood Identity Crisis?

Becoming a mother for the first (or second, third, fourth, five…) time is life-changing and beautiful, but it can also lead to a motherhood identity crisis.

People say your life is over when you have children.

I tried to deny it. I tried to fight it. I tried to pretend like everything was mostly the same. That I was the same person with the same hopes and the same dreams.

But I wasn’t, and I’m happy about that.

Who wants to be the same person for their entire life? Is that what life is about? Stasis? Sameness? Surely not.

Just a quick look around the world and you will notice that the one thing that is constant is change. Seasons come and go. Friends (and family) come and go. Relationships come and go. Pets come and go. Stores come and go.

If you live in an area as I do, every fall the leaves turn the most beautiful shades of red, yellow, orange, and brown then fall off the trees whirling their way in the wind to the ground. We go through the barrenness of winter with the distractions of the holiday season but soon the cold sinks into your bones until you year for the freshness of spring and the heat of summer.

 

Change, good or bad, is a necessity. There isn’t even a choice in the matter for us mere mortals. The best we can do is adapt and go along for the ride.

The same is true for becoming a parent and learning to evolve into the person you are meant to be after that tiny human(s) comes into your life.

The story of motherhood is truly about learning to surrender to nature, and being able to ride the waves of life that come at you. Your identity cracks and crumbles then blows away like dust in the wind.

The new you remembers that girl inside of you. A piece of her is still there, but she’s a backup singer and not the lead vocalist anymore. There’s a new voice, a new soul, and a new person inside of the body that has also been permanently changed through carrying and birthing a child(ren).

You become someone who is different and in some ways less, but most ways, so much more. You grow and become stronger. A more developed and evolved human. Someone who is more secure in her skin, and knows her place in the world.

But there are growing pains.

There’s a period of time where you don’t know what is happening. It’s like transition during birth. You don’t know if you can even go on. Surely you can’t do it. It’s too much. Your grip on reality even seems to fade in and out. You’re in your own little world, but that world doesn’t look anything like it used to.

As your old self blows away in the wind, you try to grasp it. You reach for it, but it slips through your fingers. It’s disconcerting, to say the least.

You’re in this in-between space where your old identity is gone, but the new one is yet to emerge completely. You might have a small sense that something new is coming. A new you is forming but hasn’t fully taken shape yet. That’s the motherhood identity crisis.

And guess what? It doesn’t happen just once. It happens over and over again throughout your life. When you go from one child to more than one, and then with each little milestone your child has you have some small internal milestone that is almost unnoticeable. But as they grow, you grow.

 

The trick is to learn to not try to hold on. Yes, you grasp tightly to those little moments when you feel the joy exploding out of your heart as you hold their little bodies as they sleep, or when they say “mama” for the first time, or when the sound out their first word in a book. But holding onto this little moments is not the same as holding on to who you think you are.

Allowing ourselves to grow without holding too strongly to who we used to be is just as essential as how we allow our children to grow without being too overbearing.

So if you’re in the middle of a motherhood identity crisis, just hold one. It gets better. Then it gets worse. Then it gets better again. One day you will feel like you even if it’s a new you.

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As a stay-at-home-mom entrepreneur I feel like there are a few myths floating around out there about what we do. So let’s put on our hardhats and bust some myths about stay-at-home-mom entrepreneurs.

Self-Care Basics: Self-Care for Moms That Works. (Part 2: What the hell is sleep?)

Self-Care Basics: Self-Care for Moms That Works. (Part 2: What the hell is sleep?)

Self-care doesn’t need to take up lots of time or money. The key to self-care practices that work is to stick with practical and simple self-care, focusing on self-care basics.

I was inspired by this article in Motherly to talk about how my concept of simple self-care, while in practice isn’t really revolutionary, has completely changed that I think about self-care. Instead of making big plans, let’s get back to self-care basics.

 

In Part 1 of this series on simple self-care and self-care basics, I talked you through my decision-making process and what it took for me to get to a place where I finally took my own self-care seriously. The thing about it was that I was in a place both physically and mentally where I couldn’t indulge in any fancy routines. Nope. That’s why this is basic. It’s self-care that is actually doable AND makes a difference in the long run.

The teeny and seemingly insignificant change that I decided to make, which would incorporate even just a token amount of self-care into my life was to start taking a vitamin first thing in the morning and drinking a glass of water.

Once this new little habit was part of my daily life, I started thinking about other small and practical things I could do every day to help my health and mood. So I made a list of what I knew would make me feel better on a physical and emotional level. Things that would help fuel me and fortify me for the draining and challenging task of… being a mom.

The list of additional habits I wanted to cultivate started to get pretty long, but I was able to widdle it down to a few things that were totally doable. These focused mostly on my sleep, exercise, diet, and mindset/spirituality.

But this basically narrowed down to two main buckets of topics that I needed to focus on to tend to my needs. My body and soul.

The first I decided to tackle was my body.

Ah, this body. Something I have had love and hatred for throughout my life. From loving my new and fairly large breasts as a teenager because of the attention they got me, to hating those same breasts as a teenager because there was only ONE kind of attention they got me.

Then being a 32-year-old mom whose current breasts are being fully used for their intended purpose in milk production, but don’t look quite as close to the societal standard of what breasts “should” look like anymore. (Hello sagginess.)

Not to mention the constant nagging voice in my head talking about how I’m not thin enough, and each bit of cellulite on my ass and thighs made me just a little bit less lovable and worthy as a human being.

When I first started thinking about self-care as a mom after I had my first child over four years ago, I had a much different approach. Back then I was mostly thinking of it as superfluous and something to add as a bonus to my life instead of something essential to fuel my life.

The idea of working out or eating better was about trying to mold my body into what I (society) thought was acceptable. This meant that exercising or dieting was a penance for my lack of perfection instead of something I did just for me no matter the external outcomes.

I decided it was time to change that. This time it would be about doing what is right for ME, not other people, not society, and not a partner.

This time I vowed to favor practicality in my decisionmaking, which is why I chose to focus on my sleep, exercise, and diet.

(Though I was specifically not interested in a “diet,” but rather just a focus on filling up with super good foods for as much energy as possible… if some cake or chips slipped in there, so be it.)

I did NOT come up with random and arbitrary goals. I created goals that I could create habits around, and I knew these choices would actually feel better based on my own personal experience mixed with science.

So let’s dive right into the first self-care basics goal I set for myself. Next time I’ll get into exercise and diet, but for now… let’s talk sleep! Something that isn’t super sexy or revolutionary, but incredibly necessary.

Let’s talk about the overtired elephant in the bedroom for moms. Sleep.

Eight hours of sleep is like the quest for the Holy Grail for moms, but I decided to take on the challenge anyway. As a mom whose twins still do not regularly sleep through the night I know it seemed like a Herculean task, but it turned out to be super simple and hinge on just one thing.

In order to get those eight hours of sleep, I needed to actually be in bed for around 10 hours every single night. Since my kids usually wake up between 6am-7pm, that meant I needed to be in bed by 9 pm every night.

Why 10 hours in bed? Because chances are I would have to be up for at least one cumulative hour each night. If I am in bed for 10 hours then I will likely end up getting 8-9 hours of sleep.

I know. This might sound extreme. It’s so tempting to get in your Netflix binges or other adulting during the late hours of the day/night, but I found that by ensuring I skipped those evening indulgences I could be better rested the next day.

Being more rested during the day meant I was more productive, got more done, and then had more energy to actually enjoy the adult indulgences I DID have, perhaps while my kids were napping or watching their own Disney Junior TV binges on rainy days.

While I do cherish this early bedtime for myself, I make exceptions because life happens.

For example, this a few Saturdays ago I stayed up until around 11 pm because my daughter was happily playing with the neighbor kids until late into the night as their mom and I drank wine. So I totally let that bedtime slip because summer fun sometimes takes precedence. But the fact that at least 6 of 7 days a week I stick pretty closely to my self-imposed bedtime, I can handle the occasional late night.

Then this last Saturday, my bestie cousin and I went to the Ren Faire (yes we are nerds and we totally dressed up). It was our mom night away. So we stayed up until the super late hours of around 11pm again. Yeah we are party animals.

I hope the point you get here is that you don’t have to be dogmatic or stuck in stone with the choices you make. You CAN have some flexibility. Rules were meant to be broken.

BUT if everyone broke the rules all the time our world would be chaos.

The same goes for our own worlds. We can bend or break rules we create for our own well-being from time to time, but if we totally ignore self-care basics forever… we’re gonna be on the fast track to a hot mess express.

Our bodies are how we navigate this world.

They are our home. They are the place we reside. They are also our car. The vehicle that gets us to where we need to go.

Just like your car, you need to make sure it has gas and periodically the oil is changed, tires rotated, inspected, etc. Let’s at least take as good a care of our bodies as we do with our car. We can’t trade it in when we want a new one, unfortunately.

I have had to accept that this is the body I am stuck with. There are some awesome part and some not so awesome parts. Like being short… It’s cute and all, but reaching the top shelves is a bitch…

In the next installment of this series on self-care basics I get deeper into how and why I have (at least somewhat) learned to accept my body and truly become body positive when it comes to how I feel about myself and my body.

But for now, let’s just accept on face value that our body deserves the same, if not more attention, than a car or even our home?

Like our car or our home, we CAN delay or ignore the general maintenance that is needed for some time. We can skip cleaning the kitchen and doing the dishes for a night because we are running late for a hot date with our partner. Maybe we can delay our oil change for a couple of weeks because life is really busy right now.

Eventually, those delays will catch up with us. (Take it from someone who forgot to get an oil change for like 6 months then had to drop $3k on an entirely new engine the good ole Kia. Yep. It was me.)

So it is from this angle that I have approached not just my sleep situation, but my entire view of my body. There IS an aspect of my body that I view as beautiful, sexy, hot, voluptuous, and more.

But this view of my body is a new perspective, and it is one of utility.

That is why we are starting with a discussion of sleep. This is the place it all seems to begin for us moms. All our poor decisions and lack of self-care begin and end with our lack of sleep.

Like it says in that Motherly article I mentioned before, the deficit we have in terms of missing sleep is often so huge that we could sleep for years and never catch up.

The advice I am trying to fulfill is one as old as parenting it seems, and that is the “sleep when the baby sleeps.”

As I mentioned earlier, I try to be in bed by 9 pm because that is what ensures that I get a solid 8 hours of sleep in. This has been the case since my kids were newborns, especially my twins! Imagine getting up double in the night. It was surprisingly easier than I anticipated because of the fact that when it was bedtime, I literally went to bed with them.

Side Note: Discussions on bedsharing are a whole other topic, but suffice to say that after consistently falling asleep with my first child during night time feedings in a rocking chair, which is statistically less safe than bedsharing, I brought her to bed (with some safety precautions). I never looked back, and then decided to just have a family bed with all kids cuddling me each night.

Whether you literally go to bed WITH your children, or you just go to your own separate bed at the same time as your children is not really the point.

The point is that you are in a bed for a pretty large chunk of time.

With my twins, I went to bed with them at around 7 pm in the early days. My then 3-year-old came along too. We would eat snacks in bed and watch TV for an hour or so until we drifted off to sleep too.

Then I would usually be up around 10pm, 12am, 2pm, 4am, and 6am, or something like that. But as I said before, I would usually get a cumulative 8 hours of sleep or more.

There were, of course, days then and days now when I wake up exhausted, but they are few and far between. In fact, I wake up with more energy now that I did before I was a mom going to bed at 11 pm-12 am each night and not waking up until 8-9 am.

This isn’t going to be equally easy for everyone. Some moms don’t have a partner to lean on like I do. All those nights when I went to be at 7pm? My husband was up cleaning. I have a cushy situation here where I have a partner, and he actually helps me co-parent plus take care of the home.

Some moms work night shift and then take over childcare as soon as they get off. Life is tough sometimes, and more sleep is a luxury that literally isn’t available to some moms. Even focusing on self-care basics is hard for some moms.

But I will challenge most of you to look at your time in the evenings and see if you go to bed just a *little* earlier. Is that extra 15 minutes (or 2 hours) of scrolling Facebook really worth it?

And if you have hobbies or valuable time you spend in the evening with your partner, how can you optimize that time? Like instead of hanging with your partner for an hour watching TV every night, can you go to bed earlier and then have a legit date one night a week?

Just think about it. See how you can actually do that old and tired, but still true, saying about sleeping when the baby (or kids) sleep.

What’s Next?

When we talk about our body and what it needs, besides sleep, we need to feed it and exercise it, focusing on self-care basics.

So in the next edition of this little series, I’ll talk about the diet and exercise changes I made that have helped me stop GAINING weight and lose almost 10 pounds so far without really trying.

But this isn’t about weight in terms of feeling crappy about my belly being a little too chubby according to unattainable beauty standards. Which of course is always something I’m working on. The feeling happy and loving with the body I have… not trying to reach unattainable and useless societal standards.

This is about losing that extra bit of weight that just mades you feel uncomfortable and bloaty. Ya know when you can still fit in all your clothes, but they just feel pinchy and weird? That’s what I mean here.

There were just a few simple self-care changes I made to the way I eat and move my body that have had a huge impact! Can’t wait to share more self-care basics.

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MomUp Show Episode 3 with Aleia McDaniel

MomUp Show Episode 3 with Aleia McDaniel

Self-care for moms is about more than bubble baths and brunches. It runs much deeper, and is a learned skill. One essential component is creating boundaries around self-care for moms.  Aleia McDaniel shares how she was able to create fierce boundaries for her...

Episode 2 with Sunshine Boatright

Episode 2 with Sunshine Boatright

Moms. Give yourself some grace. We put the weight of the world on our shoulders, and our ambition is high octane sometimes, but we also need to show ourselves a minimum level of self-love and self-care.  Sunshine Boatright joins us on the second episode of the...

I’m a Mom, and I Don’t Do Dishes.

I’m a Mom, and I Don’t Do Dishes.

I. Don't. Do. Dishes. This isn't an exaggeration either. Even though I'm a mom, and my primary job is caring for my children, I have done the dishes less than a handful of times in the last year.    Yeah that might seem impossible... but it's true. I don't do...

The Best Nursing Bras According to Breastfeeding Moms

The Best Nursing Bras According to Breastfeeding Moms

If there is one thing that changes after having a baby... it's your breasts. Chances are you don't quite recognize them anymore. Breastfeeding initially means your breasts are a lot bigger than they used to be and probably leaking milk on a regular basis. Once your...

What Self-Care Really Means for Moms? Being Your OWN Mom.

What Self-Care Really Means for Moms? Being Your OWN Mom.

Self-care as a mom is almost a joke at this point. It seems like some luxury we will never be rich enough to afford either with enough money or time. We feel like we are always running on a deficit of either income or sleep. But self-care isn't about the mani/pedi's...

Episode 1 with Dana Skoglund

Episode 1 with Dana Skoglund

  If you struggle to create new habits, achieve your goals, and stick to and implement plans, then this one is for you. Dana Skoglund, yoga instructor and productivity expert, walks us through a little coaching session on how to achieve your goals as a mom by...

3 Reasons It’s Harder for Moms to Keep Resolutions

3 Reasons It’s Harder for Moms to Keep Resolutions

Every year I do it. I try to defy the odds and finally complete just one resolution. But as the years have gone by, it isn't getting any easier. In fact, it feels harder! Becoming a mom has not lowered the bar, and it's clear that there are more than a few reasons...

Welcome to the MomUp Show

Welcome to the MomUp Show

Hey Mama, Nice to meet you. I'm Morgan, the founder of Mom Uprising. I'm here to help you reconnect, to find yourself again, even in the midst of the chaos of motherhood. As I type this, my 4 year old is sitting on my lap because she "wanted up." I know it's easy to...

Why I Ignored “Experts” to Embrace My Mama Bear Instincts

Why I Ignored “Experts” to Embrace My Mama Bear Instincts

The mama bear instincts. They are strong. They are fierce. The truth is that we have all the wisdom we need inside of us as mothers. Do we value the input of others when asked? Of course. But the instincts we were given naturally are the most important compass that we...

Being Present Vs. Giving Presents this Holiday Season

Being Present Vs. Giving Presents this Holiday Season

Delete. Delete. Delete... I hit that button about a dozen times until my Amazon cart was empty. I had gone on a bit of an adding to cart binge while looking for stocking stuffers for my kids. What I had intended to be a minimalist Christmas filled with experiences...

Why You Need a Postpartum Doula

Why You Need a Postpartum Doula

by guest blogger: Felicia Trumbauer Postpartum can be a wonderful blissful time of settling into your new family, or it can be a whirlwind of stress. With all the expenses associated with a new baby, sometimes it's easy to ignore why you need a postpartum doula....

What if You Don’t Have a College Fund for Your Kid?

What if You Don’t Have a College Fund for Your Kid?

Raise your hand if you haven't saved a dime toward your child's education. Feeling some guilt about that? The experts say don't! The idea of being able start saving for college may seem like a pipe dream. Yes, if you have some extra cash you can put away for your...

How I Feel About My Postpartum Body Now

How I Feel About My Postpartum Body Now

This body... It has done amazing things. Birthed three children and nursed them for over 3.5 years combined. In one breath I thank every stretch mark. In the next I curse them. While I know this body gave me my babies, part of me can only see the imperfections as...

5 Productivity Tips for Stay at Home Mom Entrepreneurs

5 Productivity Tips for Stay at Home Mom Entrepreneurs

It's no surprise that the number one issue for a stay at home mom entrepreneur is time and productivity. The average mom only gets 17 minutes of alone time per day. That's barely enough time to take a shower let alone build a business. Let's see if we can find a...

The Best Tips to Succeed at Breastfeeding from Real Moms

The Best Tips to Succeed at Breastfeeding from Real Moms

Breastfeeding is hard. Yes it's natural, but it doesn't always come naturally to many of us. Bad latch, low supply, going back to work, pressure to supplement from doctors... the list of possible issues that can arise is long and can be complicated. A few...

I’m Not Ready to Be a Soccer Mom. Where Did My Baby Go?

I’m Not Ready to Be a Soccer Mom. Where Did My Baby Go?

Is this what a soccer mom looks like? In some ways I guess I lucked out to be a mom and a "soccer mom" in this era. We are blessed with things like SUV's and high waisted jeans actually being in style, a nice little perk for our distended postpartum bellies. And while...

This Real Mom Says Attachment Parenting is for Lazy Parents

This Real Mom Says Attachment Parenting is for Lazy Parents

written by Sarah of RealSimpleMama.com We attachment parents like to think of ourselves as martyrs. The benefits of attachment parenting are undeniable, but sometimes we lose that focus by dramatizing in an attempt to look selfless and noble. The media doesn't help...

Owning My Story of Postpartum Depression

Owning My Story of Postpartum Depression

The greatest resource we have to help us in our journey through motherhood is the knowledge other mothers share with us. But nowadays it seems scarier than ever to open and share with others because we are afraid of being judged.   This can be even harder if...

Moms: Have You Forgotten Who You Were?

Moms: Have You Forgotten Who You Were?

By: Iman Gatti Have you forgotten... Who you were before the chaos? Before everything you did was questioned and scrutinized. Before the stakes were so high. Before all of this emerging and transforming. This tearing down and rebuilding. Before you became a mother....

5 Tips for Work Life Balance for Moms

5 Tips for Work Life Balance for Moms

As a mom, it's easy to loose sight of what balance even means anymore. So often our needs are put on the back burner for bosses or babies. But self-love and self-care expert, Eva Ponce, is sharing her best 5 tips for work life balance for moms. To be successful as...

Being “Just a Mom” and Why I Want to Be a Stay at Home Mom.

Being “Just a Mom” and Why I Want to Be a Stay at Home Mom.

Being called "just" a mom is offensive as hell. Any mother knows that this is the toughest job in the world. I've worked outside of the home, from home, and have also not worked while staying home with kids. I would always been quick to call out someone who puts down...

How Shame Stops Moms from Practicing Self-Care

How Shame Stops Moms from Practicing Self-Care

How many times have you heard that self-care is essential as a mom? That we have to fill our own cup first, or put on our own oxygen mask before helping others? But the thing is... how often do you actually practice self-care?   We chalk it up to not having the...

First Trimester Must Haves for Morning Sickness

First Trimester Must Haves for Morning Sickness

These first trimester must haves are absolutely essential for all the mamas out there struggling. This is a list of all the pregnancy essentials for first trimester morning sickness is no joke.   Getting over that (all day) morning sickness... As I type this out,...

Myths About Stay-At-Home-Mom Entrepreneurs

Myths About Stay-At-Home-Mom Entrepreneurs

As a stay-at-home-mom entrepreneur I feel like there are a few myths floating around out there about what we do. So let’s put on our hardhats and bust some myths about stay-at-home-mom entrepreneurs.

Simple Self-Care for Moms that Actually Works. (Part 1: Not Just Another Bubble Bath)

Simple Self-Care for Moms that Actually Works. (Part 1: Not Just Another Bubble Bath)

It’s not just the girls’ weekends. It’s not just another bubble bath or brunch. The truth about self-care is that the way moms need to be thinking about this issue is on a much more basic level. It’s all about simple self-care for moms.

Self-care has been a hot topic for years now. Everyone says we need to take it seriously, and moms deserve to put ourselves first or even that it is necessary to put ourselves first… because happy mom = happy kids. But when you get down to the nitty-gritty of self-care, I feel like we aren’t having serious discussions of what it ACTUALLY looks like, and instead just talk about the flashy and fun aspects.

This is about ensuring you are in peak condition to do one of the toughest jobs on the planet, many times in addition to a job outside of the home.

Moms get made fun of for our little obsession with yoga pants and activewear even when we haven’t been to the yoga studio or gym in years. But let’s be real. Mommin’ is a full-contact sport, and I challenge you to get as good of a workout from CrossFit as chasing my twins around every single day.

And it isn’t just taxing on our physical bodies. About 10% of women each year will go through depression. 1 in 9 will have postpartum depression.

I am one of them. I have had PPD and depression/anxiety off and on throughout my life. While I can’t say I am “cured,” I also have found that there is something so simple and basic I can do to stop the depression, it’s almost embarrassing I didn’t do it before.

Practice super easy, basic and simple self-care.

Being a mom is so freakin’ hard, and I am obsessed with this story in Motherly all about how “‘Self-care’ is not enough to fix how much moms are burnt out.” (https://www.mother.ly/life/self-care-is-not-enough-to-fix-how-much-moms-are-burnt-out)

And the truth is that the things we have been considering self-care really don’t even begin to make a dent in the sleep and energy deficit we tend to find ourselves in. But I knew that after I had a bit of a depressive episode/mental breakdown/three-day anxiety attack a few months ago, I could NOT go on as I did before. I was overwhelmed and exhausted physically and emotionally.

Although I have struggled with anxiety and depression for all of my adult life, I had been able to manage it. 99% of the time I can keep myself in check with things like meditation and mindfulness plus countless hours reading personal development books and therapy as needed. Occasionally I have also tried medication which has worked and not worked to varying degrees.

But earlier this year, I had a few different factors come together to give me a pretty rough week that had been brewing for months.

Just to give you taste of those factors, it was the middle of winter and I had been cooped up with a 4-year-old and twin one-year-olds for months. I wasn’t getting any fresh air or sunlight. I wasn’t able to exercise or get my body really moving at all. The soundtrack of my life was a mix of kids cartoons. And I was processing through a bunch of small traumas that had come up from my past, plus finally dealing with some grief that had been hiding in the shadows for years.

Not to mention I was struggling with the typical exhaustion and stress that comes from having three kids ages four and under.

These things and more came together to make my anxiety and depression skyrocket.

All the thoughts going through my mind about myself were negative. I felt stuck. It was the first time in my life that I was REALLY worried about myself and whether I could do this. Not just be a mom, but could I really live? Could I have a good life? Or was I doomed to this depression and anxiety forever?

While I do think that I’ll have to be on guard against depression and anxiety forever, I realized at some point that there were some super basic things I could do to help myself.

The truth is that at the time I didn’t really know how to take care of myself at all.

I could identify hand-foot-and-mouth disease with my eyes closed. I could tell what my kids needed before they even opened their mouths just by the way they moved. I could use my spidey senses to tell if something bad happened with my husband’s work that day without him saying a word.

But did I know how to really take care of this 32-year-old body and soul I have? Nope.

I posted on Facebook detailing how I was depressed because I am all about transparency and perhaps even oversharing. Reading stories from other moms and women helps me tremendously. Some of the responses I got took me back.

At first, I felt kind of offended that people thought I was so stupid to have not thought of their ideas, but then I realized… I hadn’t.

The most simple things like drinking water, taking vitamins, and getting some vitamin D by getting in the sun every day were super basic acts of self-care that I had completely neglected for months.

This realization made me feel like kind of a dope for not thinking of them.

I mean, I *know* how important these things are… I just kind of forgot about them when it came to actually ensuring they were included in my life. (and not just my kids’ lives)

But this wasn’t the first time I totally neglected my own health.

I ended up needing not one, but TWO root canals last year because I just kept delaying on going to the dentist. I knew I had lost a filling in one tooth and the other felt a little odd, but because I wasn’t in total agony I figured I could just let it go.

Bad choice.

If I would have just been diligent about getting my routine dental exams, I probably would have been able to get away with just a few little fillings.

I thought this root canal situation was a wake-up call for me to finally commit to practicing the most BASIC self-care. Nothing fancy, just generally assuring I get to the medical appointments I need to attend.

However, while I did a better job of making and keeping those appointments, I did basically nothing for myself in between. At least until this most recent mental crisis.

I decided it was finally time to do something I had been pondering for a while and even wrote a blog post about.

It was the time I really became my own mother… for real.

And not just in the touchy/feely way. It’s not just about learning to love myself unconditionally, and actually care about myself enough to take care of me, but to also learn to discipline myself.

Now, I am not one for hardcore strict discipline full of time outs with my children. They will never be spanked, and I have yet to reach the age where I need to even think about grounding them… but I do hope to teach them to discipline themselves. To be able to set goals and achieve them.

I hope they will have the diligence to keep their rooms at least somewhat tidy, brush (and floss!) their teeth twice a day, complete homework assignments on time, etc.

And so I realized that at the ripe old age of 32, I had to start treating myself like one of my own children. No more letting myself off the hook. I had to be my own authority and start learning to be disciplined in my own life.

(Side note: this isn’t JUST about my own self-care and health, but I also realized I needed to set an example for my kids, especially my daughter, on how to live and care for yourself.)

So with this new resolve, my knee-jerk reaction was to overhaul my entire life. Start from scratch. Get on a schedule, a workout routine, and be hardcore with my health.

But… I had luckily just had an interview on the MomUp Show with Dana Skoglund all about how to create healthy habits. I knew I needed to start fairly small and make a plan around it. For me, the more simple the better.

If I was honest with myself, I knew that I was a novice at this whole healthy habit and good discipline thing.

Side note: the reason discipline and habits were hard for me was that I never needed them. I had gotten by in school and life until this point with just natural abilities, which has turned out to be a blessing and a curse.

The whole work hard on a daily basis to make incremental progress instead of skipping class all semester and cramming the night before the final wouldn’t work.

To make this work, I needed to keep it simple and (gasp!) EASY and regimented.

I decided to start with one super basic thing that I would start every single day that would herald in a new routine. A way to kind of short circuit my old norm and quickly swap it out for something new.

I would simply wake up every day, quickly get the kids settled, then grab a glass of water and my multivitamin.

That’s it.

I would make that one small change of starting my day by drinking a glass of water and taking my vitamin.

This small change is what I landed on for a few reasons.

On a very practical level I knew I was probably at a constant low key level of dehydration, AND since I was still breastfeeding my twins staying hydrated and taking a multivitamin were essential and would probably help me not feel so physically depleted all the time. (I, like most women nowadays, tend to have lower levels of vitamin-D, which can impact mood.)

But also, this was such an easy change to make. It took me less than 60 seconds a day but making sure that the first real thing I did every day was something for myself and my own health injected a new mindset into my life.

It’s not some self-indulgent idea of making sure I always come first no matter what, which let’s be honest would not work as a mom of three small kids. It shifted my mindset around my self-care from something that I needed to fight for or work for to something I just did. It just happened. It was just part of the routine. Nothing special, just a necessity.

I feel like the way I thought about self-care also changed from CARING for to more like… TENDING to my body. I stopped viewing my body and a lot of being as some delicate little thing that needed to be cared for to a vehicle that needed to do a lot of demanding work and needed to be maintained… just like the family car. (That dear old Kia has seen better days but it’s still kickin’)

Through beginning with this simple act that isn’t even close to being revolutionary or difficult, I was able to just take my first step on the path.

And you know what? I saw actual real benefits from this.

Not only do I believe the added water intake and vitamins helped my physical body feel better on a daily basis, but just having completed this minor task every single day for a period of time gave the sense of accomplishment needed to continue to search for ways to improve my body and mind so that I could be a better person and a better mom.

I was ready to stop feeling like I was barely holding onto life, and to finally flourish.

Just typing that word “flourish” makes me realize I never have. In all of my life, I have never felt like I have reached my full potential as a human being because of a lack of really understand myself as a physical and emotional being, which sounds bizarre, but is true.

And this teeny step forward of making a 60-second tweak to my morning is what began an entirely new path in life for me.

I’m going to be sharing even more on this topic through additional posts on how to begin a very simple self-care practice for moms. Next week I’m going to dive into the next steps I took, and I how I started taking even better care of my body, and even learned to love my body.

 

For now, what do you think? Can you adjust your thinking and practice to ensure that you are taking basic care of yourself? Some practical and simple self-care methods that work for you?