“You cannot serve from an empty vessel” -Eleanor Brown
I recently asked a variety of moms what the hardest thing about parenting is for them. There’s this epidemic in American moms and it honestly shocked me that SO many admitted to it when I asked them that question. It’s the belief that we don’t have time to care for ourselves.
You see… moms have to come from a place of service. We are CONSTANTLY serving others. The kids have to come first. Or is it the husband? The housework, finances, pets, school, extra curricular activities, Dr. appointments, in-laws, work events, grocery shopping, meal prep, and laundry (oh my gosh, the LAUNDRY!) have to all get fit in somewhere, too.
But there’s no God-given gift that makes us immortal to exhaustion, stress, tension, emotions, and the inevitable burn out and guilt that all moms will get. Utah has been ranked the #1 most depressed state in the country according to a Mental Health America. It also ranked #1 in the highest birth rate in the country. Perhaps this is partly because we are struggling. Moms, we’ve gotta get this together.
So here it is. I’m saying it for you. You cannot survive on your forgotten meals, missed sleep, and jammed schedule. You cannot serve from an empty vessel, you need to fill yourself. You officially have the permission, no, the REQUIREMENT, to take time for yourself.
How can I do that when I’m already stretched so thin that I don’t have time for the things I HAVE to do? I get it! I do! I’m a full time, stay at home, homeschooling, working mom with my own business. But I realized that until I could get myself together, my family would suffer because of me. Because. Of. Me. You love your family? Your kids? Your spouse? Then you owe it to THEM to make some time. Here’s some suggestions that have helped me!
1. Create a routine and schedule yourself in there. If you’re constantly jumping from one thing to another, chances are you’re missing things anyway. Managing our time is among the most important things we can do as moms. Once you get things written down, take a look and find out what isn’t a necessity. Extra things CAN wait. Down time is good for your mental health and the mental health of your kids, too! You’ll also be able to see how much of your time is devoted to non essential things (mine was social media!).
2. Treat yourself. Remember to schedule this in. Find whatever makes YOU happy. Do you love books? Go get a coffee or tea at the cafe of a local bookstore. Take a bath… without the kids. Meet a friend for lunch. Get your nails done. Go to the mall…. ALONE! Take a class you’ve been dying to take (money and time is never waisted on learning something new!).
3. Create something. Once upon a time you didn’t have kids. Once upon a time, you had talents outside of wiping noses and changing diapers. I believe, with all my heart, that humans are created to create. Even the most scientific, technical, left brained person is still a creative person… they just see creativity differently. I create art, paint with light, and create tangible memories of times otherwise forgotten. I also color like a 2 year old, crochet like a 90 year old grandma, and craft like a bored housewife! Doing something with a tangible end product is both satisfying and productive and you owe it to yourself to remember that you’re capable of more than just house work and running errands.
4. Meditate. Before you write this off as some new age excuse for being bored, hear me out. There are scientific studies that prove the benefits of meditation and grounding techniques. It can take 2 minutes, it can take 2 hours, it’s all up to you and it can be done whenever and wherever you are. The easiest and most productive that I’ve found (so far) is to become present in the immediate moment by engaging all your senses. Ask yourself, “what do I feel? Hear? Smell? See? Taste?” Now… don’t go tasting the dish soap or snorting the laundry detergent, but you can really do this anywhere. Be specific with your answers. And for the record, psychiatrists also recommend this one for people with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. I LOVE doing this one with my kids, too.
Those are what have helped me and yes, there has been a SIGNIFICANT improvement on my family life by implementing some of these. There’s no more excuse not to care for yourself a little and mom guilt has no place in your life when you do. “You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”