Solutions For The Mom Who Doesn’t Have Time For Herself

mom doesn't have time for herself
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Dear Mom Who Doesn’t Have Time For Herself,

Are you running ragged trying to take care of your family and meet everyone’s needs? Feeling like you’re always behind and that there’s never enough time in a day?  Want to help your family thrive but don’t quite know how to get there?

You are not alone.

Being a mom is hard work. It’s long hours and it’s putting others needs before your own.

When I was a young and naive teenager with only myself to worry about, I’d see moms out in public with messy hair, frumpy clothes, and no makeup and think, “Woah, how can she actually leave the house looking like that? Does she even care that she looks so bad?” “When I’m a mom, I’ll always take care of myself!”

Well, fast forward 15 years and 5 kids later, and I have, at times, been teenage me’s worst nightmare. She would be horrified that I’ve taken the kids to school in my pajamas (many times), gone days without any makeup, and worn my hair in a sloppy ponytail for 18 months straight.

Sorry, teenage me.

But also, not sorry.

See the thing that I know now, that I didn’t understand then, is how much of yourself you give when you’re a mom. You give and give and give. With each child, there are more needs to be met, but the same 24 hours in a day, which results in less time for yourself.

And truthfully, it is a beautiful thing. To learn to give, to serve, to become a better and much less selfish version of yourself. To have your heart expand exponentially in ways you could never even have imagined as that self-absorbed teenager.

But it’s also the hardest thing you’ll ever do.

All that giving can wear you down. When you are faced with a hectic morning getting 4+ people out the door on time after another sleep deprived night and you have the choice between changing a messy diaper, calming a toddler’s tantrum, feeding your children breakfast, locating shoes and backpacks, combing the kids’ hair, brushing their teeth or putting makeup on your face, well, something has to give. And most often that thing is you.

All of us have mornings like that sometimes. But when every morning and every day and every night look and feel crazy, hectic and overwhelming, that’s life in survival mode. And the thing about survival mode is that it is a crisis situation, not meant to be sustained or prolonged. 

I’ve been there. I know it is no way to live. And it can feel like there is no way out.

But There is a Way Out.

It’s a simple solution. It’s not new advice but it took me a lot of years to actually listen to it. I don’t want it to take that long for you. So please believe me when I say:

Save yourself first.

Really. Save yourself first.

I know, I know. That goes against all your natural giving mothering instincts. It seems completely wrong. But let me explain.

I am not saying to be selfish or to neglect your family or your responsibilities or to save only yourself. But I am saying that if you want to help your family, you have to help yourself first.

The Oxygen Analogy

When you’re flying on an airplane, and the attendants are explaining the emergency procedures, what do they say to do if you are sitting with a child in an emergency? Put your oxygen mask on first, then help the child secure theirs. This is because if cabin pressure drops, you only have seconds before you can’t think clearly enough to function. And you are absolutely no help to anyone if you are passed out unconscious from lack of oxygen.looking down airplane aisle

The same thing applies to mom life. In order for you to be able to function properly, think clearly and help your family, you need to keep yourself connected to a figurative life-giving oxygen supply.

A life-giving supply can be different things to different people. For me, it is spending time each day in prayer, scripture study and bullet journaling. It’s a small thing. It takes only minutes a day. But it has made a world of difference. Since I started making a conscious effort to refuel myself every day, I am a much nicer mom and our household runs more smoothly.

Unfortunately, it took me a lot of years to realize that keeping myself filled up was not selfish and that I didn’t need to put everyone else’s needs before that one crucial need of my own. Please be smarter than me. 🙂

A few years ago when I was feeling overburdened and stressed out, which was my normal operating mode, I received some tough love, but great advice:

“There’s good news and there’s bad news…

The bad news is that you are the problem.
The good news is that you are also the solution.

You Are The Solution

So if you’re feeling run down, ragged and stuck in survival mode, you are the solution. You can change things. Give yourself the assignment, and permission, to find a way to fill yourself back up and keep yourself connected to your life-giving supply every single day. It is not selfish. It is the most helpful, loving, sustaining thing you can do for your family. You can’t give from an empty bucket and you don’t get far on an empty tank.running on empty when mom doesn't have time for herself

Refueling yourself does not have to take a lot of time or cost much money. But there should be some little thing each day that you look forward to. Something that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning. Some way to rejuvenate your soul, to be inspired, and to be renewed. Something that makes your life a little bit brighter.

Here are 29 different healthy ways to replenish your reserves:

  • Breathe Deeply
  • Stretch
  • Pray
  • Study Scripture
  • Meditate
  • Smell a favorite scent or light a scented candle
  • Put on a little perfume
  • Exercise
  • Walk around the block or down the street savoring the sights and sounds

    four girls walking down a lane
    Walking down the lane savoring the sights and sounds of my daughters laughing with their friend.
  • Do cardio at your in-home gym (aka go up and down your stairs 10 times)
  • Make your bed
  • Style your hair
  • Wear some makeup 
  • Appreciate your clothes
  • Think of 3 things you’re grateful for in the past 24 hours
  • Laugh
  • Take a Nap
  • Color a picture
  • Doodle
  • Learn about something you’re interested in for 15 minutes
  • Read inspirational quotes
  • Look at beautiful artwork
  • Write a quick email telling someone how much you appreciate them
  • Journal about a happy memory

    sunset walk along beach
    Journal about a happy memory – like the time I attended a birthday party on the beach at sunset.
  • Talk with an uplifting friend
  • Declutter and/or clean a small space
  • Listen to music
  • Sing along
  • Spend a little time doing a favorite hobby

Start with One

You don’t have to do the same thing each day. Just simply do one thing that you enjoy every day. Something that fills you up and helps you greet others with a full heart, an engaged mind, and a willing helping hand. 

When you’re taking time to fill yourself, you’ll have more to give to your family. When you’re not running around with an empty bucket, oxygen-deprived brain, and soul, you’ll be more centered and focused and better able to see the way to help your family thrive.

Remember, you are the solution. You’re amazing! And you can do this!

Try This Small Thing Today:

Do one thing to refill your reserves and take good care of yourself. Let me know how it goes! 

Let’s Chat about When Mom Doesn’t Have Time For Herself

What’s one way you refueled yourself today? What are some of your favorite low cost or free self-care ideas? Let us know in the comments.

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