Dr. Diane Sanford, author of Stress Less. Live Better from Praeclarus Press, says, “Mothers, spare yourselves” with these
Seven sanity saving tips
- Care for your children by caring for yourself. Practice our “5 a day”: (i) eat, (ii) sleep, (iii) get regular physical activity, (iv) rest/take breaks, and (v) connect with yourself and others. Put your oxygen mask on first, so you have the energy and vitality to be the mom your children deserve.
- Take 3 to 4 hours a week for “me-time.” You may think you can run full-tilt 24/7, but your body and mind were not designed for this. You need periods of restoration for optimal health. Without refilling your pitcher, you will feel depleted, exhausted, impatient, and resentful.
- Know yourself. The greater your need for control, the more likely you are to come unraveled as a mom when life runs itself. Try cutting back before even having children. Start removing items from your “to-do list” and prioritizing what is truly important. Practice not having things “just so” for improved adjustment.
- Notice your accomplishments (even if no one else does). Put your attention on what you’re getting done instead of where you’re falling short. Keep a jar and every time you do something, drop a coin in. Change a diaper—a coin, feed your baby—a coin, bathe your baby—a coin. It adds up fast.
- Ask for help. Speak with family and friends about how they can help especially if you’ve just had a new baby. Be direct about the kinds of help you will appreciate, both childcare assistance and emotional support. Research has shown that you benefit most from support if it’s what you need, not what others might imagine you need.
- Nurture your sense of humor. The ability to step back and laugh at life’s challenges and frustrations is an asset. If you can see anything funny in what you’re going through, imagine looking back on this scene two or three years from now. Believe it or not, some of your worst days now will make great stories later on.
- Self-acceptance. One of the hardest habits is learning to love ourselves wholly with our strengths and limitations. Practice unconditional love and positive regard towards yourself because you are a unique, special person. For no other reason than that. Don’t compare yourself to other moms. Make your motherhood and life journey your own.
If you can practice one or two of these habits weekly, kudos to you. If there’s one which appeals to you, try it 2 or 3 times a week or even daily for 10 to 15 minutes. Make it your goal over the next few months to experiment with adding each of these to your routine. Remember, motherhood is a lifetime journey and self-care is the key to emotional health and happiness.
Watch Dr. Diane Sanford in conversation with Kathleen Kendall-Tackett: