Monday, May 31, 2010

Taking Care of Yourself

We know the saying, "If Mama ain't happy, no one's happy," right? Then why do we constantly play the martyr? Why do we take care of our needs only if there is time to after everyone else's needs have been met? Because we're moms, that's why.

My grandmother used to tell me, "If you look good, you feel good." and I have always taken this advice to heart. So before I go anywhere I shower, get dressed, and make sure I don't look like I just rolled out of the bed in the morning.

My grandmother was the ultimate martyr. She worked at home as a transcriptionist from 2-6am, then headed off to an office job where she worked various hours. She did this while taking care of our entire family until her death at age 68. She was an amazing woman that took care of us and left little time for herself. This led my father, uncle, and I to be very spoiled and think that we always had to come first. When I became a mother, that was a shocking reality check.

I have always put my children first, and sometimes I was miserable. Then I realized, the best thing I can do for my children is for them to see me happy. I don't want to be a martyr. I want to live and have fun and that gives me enough energy to play with my children and make their lives better for it.

The first thing that I realized was that I needed to wake up earlier. For me, this was no easy task, but I needed that time. If that meant going to bed earlier as well, so be it. I didn't need to be watching TV at 10pm anyway. I have a Wii Fit and I resolved that to be the first thing I did in the morning. Exercise is important and can improve your overall attitude throughout the day. So by waking up a half-hour to one hour earlier I could do some yoga, get showered and dressed, and feed myself first in the morning. By the time it was time to wake up the kids, I was already ready to take on the day, and it felt good.

Going out regularly I knew also would help me feel much better. Coming from a family where my father was constantly leaving us to go to the bar made me feel guilty for wanting to have some adult time. But I realized that I am not my father. I am not an alcoholic, and I am not abandoning my kids, because after I have been out, I come back, and feel like a better mother. I love spending time with my children, but having a non-existent social life can be devastating to your overall mental health. Going out just once or twice a month helps me to realize that I'm not only a mom. I have many roles and "mom" is just one of them.

Just like my children, I enjoy being rewarded. So, when I accomplish a goal that I have set, I reward myself. This is usually something small like a $10 manicure or coffee with a friend, but it feels wonderful! We need positive reinforcement to keep us motivated sometimes. :)

The point is, take care of yourself! Don't be a martyr. It isn't healthy for you or your children. You're a wonderful mother, give yourself some credit!  

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