All too often mom is the last person in the household who gets time to do what she wants to do. Making breakfast, ironing clothes (ya who am I kidding, extra roll in the dryer is what I meant), packing school lunches, finding dad’s work pants that you know he just took off somewhere and walked away from, feed the pets the kids “forgot to” and paying bills online. Marked by moments of asking one’s self if they really did co-sign onto this absurd rollercoaster ride of responsibility or if they just didn’t read the fine print, mom’s go through the motions day in and day out. Time for mom usually consists of the end of the day shower and passing out with a book stuck to her face or the remote control lost somewhere in between the pillows of the bed and that grilled cheese sandwich hidden behind the bed that their three year old swore they ate for dinner. If mom doesn’t make a conscious effort to make time for herself it is highly unlikely it will come to the front door in a box that was drone dropped by Amazon in an overnight flight from some small town never heard of, but probably home to a mom just like her.
Rule number one to making time for mom is to remember self. Not selfie, but self. We’ve all seen those half-hearted photo’s of a good make-up or hair day and the expression on her face that says “I better take a photo because it is going to be a very long time before I look this good again.” Let’s break that mold and find a moment every day where mom takes time to work on self. Here are 3 steps to making sure that happens before you are taking a photo of yourself with before and after denture selfies.
Step 1: Don’t just schedule doctor’s appointments, school plays, work meetings, and back to school events. Schedule time for you. Find a time in your day, even if it is just 15 minutes, but preferably 60 minutes where self is the one getting all the attention. Schedule time to read your favorite book. Time to get your hair washed and styled by someone other than yourself. Schedule a coffee break at your favorite Starbucks and turn off your phone. Combine a few of these. Get your hair done with a great cup of coffee, phone off and great book in hand. Find you important.
Step 2: Prioritize what is important. Sometimes mom can get bogged down with the idea that she can’t take care of herself because the laundry needs to be done, the dishes are dirty, the homework is in a pile on the counter, etc, etc, etc. Prioritize it and realize that you are more important than that. They will get done, but they can also wait. It is okay to go to bed and have a mess on the counter of homework or a few dirty dishes in the sink. They will still be there tomorrow and you can take care of it while you are making breakfast. I swear it doesn’t really change things. It won’t take you longer, but by maybe 5 minutes and those are the best 5 minutes because while you’re doing those few dishes or piling papers into backpacks you are thinking about the 20 minute lavender bath soak you took last night instead.
Step 3: Delegate. I know that is a dirty word for us mom’s, but I promise you that it does not make you any less of a woman or a mom. Making people dependent on you needlessly is a habit that women fall into because we are programmed to think we are responsible for it all. Not all kids are able to do large chores, but little ones can help too. They can sort clothes into piles of who wears what, they can put toys into a toy box, and they can throw out papers and trash found laying around that mom says is okay to throw out. Older kids can do much bigger chores, like fold the clothes, put them away, take trash out, maybe even wash dishes, depending on age. Some can cook small meals, bring in the mail, vacuum, and even take a dust pan to the stairs. Don’t underestimate the power of small helpers. Give them things to do and realize you just created time for self.
There is power in taking care of self. Taking the time for mom to be a woman is essential to the overall happiness of everyone she interacts with. The old adage of “if mom is unhappy everyone else will be too,” is a very true statement. Often swept up into the whirlwind of life and daily responsibility, mom forgets to add herself to the list of to do. Taking care of self shouldn’t be an afterthought of “oh I wish I….” Remembering that it is not a selfish act, but a necessary one. That little voice that creeps in and says, but if I take time to get a pedicure then people will judge me and think my life isn’t as hard as I feel that it is. That it somehow lessens our burden. That little voice that tells you that if I pamper myself I won’t have bragging rights to the hard knock life. That voice, get rid of it. No one lives in your skin except for you. You get to make all the decisions regarding what you do in that skin. You are beautiful, capable, smart, able, and in charge. You cannot control other people, but you can control you. Take charge of loving you.