Log Off, Shutdown, Reboot. Steps for Self-Care

Has your groove ever been hacked and you feel the desire to go on strike from everything? Like, just kick your feet up and log out of life? CTRL-ALT-DLT…complete mom shutdown. Has motherhood ever been so emotionally taxing and physically draining that you feel the need to shove everything off your plate? I’m talking about, flipping over tables, clearing desks, and ripping up your never-ending to-do lists? Reaching that breaking point will make you realize, “I’ve got to get a handle on myself!” If you’ve ever felt this way, you are not alone. The reason is fairly simple: we don’t take care of ourselves enough and we are tired. “TIED!” The solution…..not so easy. But worry no more! I have 6 solutions for how you can reboot from the madness and still slay motherhood.

When motherhood feels like the last slice of pie.

We spend so much time making sure everything is in order, food is on the table, the Mr./SO is taken care of (ahem, at least we try), and the world keeps turning on it’s axis. Very long story short, we are everything to everyone. But often there is a void….something is missing. There aren’t enough hours in the day to give OURSELVES the attention WE need. It’s common that we get the short end of the stick because after everything is done, we are the last to sit down. We barely have the energy to grab the last slice of pie. We get the teensiest amount of sleep. Even when we are sick, nothing stops moving. At the end of the day, we plop down from exhaustion and our self-care goes unchecked. Yet again.

And when we are lucky to finally give ourselves some attention, we often feel guilty or are shamed by others.

In August I went to Barbados for my grandfather’s funeral. My oldest son came along, and my 1 year-old stayed behind. When I returned, my husband commented how he had gone to a luncheon and everyone admired how he was such a good father caring for his baby son. Perplexed, I looked at my husband and said, “when you are on a trip and I go somewhere with the kids, no one comes up to me and tells me what a good mother I am.”

And there it is. Motherhood is often a thankless job. There are few accolades, compliments, or acknowledgements that we are rockin it out. There are no medal ceremonies for the 1,000 mommy-duties we complete each day. No Nobel prizes for the many solutions we came up with to hold the house in order. We aren’t anomalies, we aren’t over-achieving super mommies. When people see us juggling 50-11 things at once, they look at us with the expectation that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. It’s the ultimate double standard of our society. The mommy bar is so high, and we are struggling to reach it. Furthermore, a lot of us don’t even notice or challenge the double standard.

The Good Housewife. LOL.

I often wonder how this double standard started. In my quest, I came across this 1950s guide to being a good housewife. I read it. And after I composed my hysterical laughter, a couple of instructions stood out:

7.) Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes.

8.) Children are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.- Good Housewife’s Guide

Now that I made you smile…

Back to reality.

We’ve come a long way from the 1950s, but our society has lingering social expectations of women as primary caretakers. Generally speaking, there are very specific gender roles in the home, which are usually unequal between men and women. Back then, it was more acceptable in a time where the women primarily stayed at home to take care of the kids. However today, many women are struggling even more because our expectation list has grown exponentially. Not only are we responsible for the home and family (full-time job #1), many of us also carry the stress of maintaining a career (full-time job #2).

Mommy Job Description: Full-time, provider, chef, house cleaning skills a must, diaper-changer, juice-pourer, nose-wiper, sibling rivalry-fixer, spill cleaner-upper, chauffeur, and all-night baby rocker. Very few breaks, squeeze in a couple holidays if you’re lucky. Mandatory overtime every day, every week. Required skillset: must be “everything to everyone.” And all other duties as assigned. And then some.

No need to apply, you’ve already been chosen.

In just one day alone, we can be exhausted from lack of sleep, burned out from being on 24/7 at work, and weary from coming home to our primary full-time job: taking care of the household. The pressure seems to hit from all angles as we try to keep everything synced and in order.

So what gives? How do we begin to take care of ourselves?

6 tips for mama self-care.

  1. Choose sanity over perfection. We won’t be always able to keep the house clean, we won’t submit every project perfectly, we will forget some things, and it’s all okay! Essentially, we have to learn to let certain things go to keep ourselves sane.
  2. Say “NO!” For many of us, saying “no” is very difficult, especially when there are family members that depend on us. It’s okay if we don’t make that extra event, decline staying late at work, or let go of doing that one little extra thing. Sometimes we just have to say “NO” and not look back.
  3. Rest, or your body will force you to. After I had my second son, I had Venous Thrombosis in my brain. For those unfamiliar with the condition, it was a massive blood clot that almost took my life. After 6 months of blood thinners, the clot was gone but I realized I was never the same again. I tried to push through and do all of the things I used to do. But I soon realized my body couldn’t handle the “old me.” When I did too many things, I would feel the difference in my body and I would get sick again. My body was forcing limits that I did not like and were not used to on me.
  4. Stop feeling guilty. Relinquish the guilt when you need to take things off your plate. In graduate school, I learned the concept of the “good enough parent:” as long as you are there to love, support and meet your child’s basic needs then that is all they need from you. You are good enough.
  5. Have fun! When I relocated from a different culture to the U.S., I left all of my friends and family behind. Being a natural raving extrovert that thrives off of friendships, people and parties, I struggled because I didn’t have a new friend community. As I found myself slipping into a depression, I knew I had to figure out how to build new friendships and have fun again. I chose to do so and purposely found ways to have fun. Doing so was critical to my well-being and self-care.
  6. Be Intentional about your self-care. Self-care is critical for you and a requirement for your family. If you do not take care of yourself, then you cannot take care of others around you.

-This mom is logging out, clearing the mama cache, and eliminating all fatal errors! Happy practicing mamas!

Written by Shanya Gray and Sassy K.

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