Stephen and I love flying with WestJet. They have by far the friendliest staff members, they care about ensuring their passengers have a fantastic flight, and their flight attendants are great at injecting humor into seemingly mundane things, like the safety demo. You how they always talk about the oxygen mask? “…be sure to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others…” Because if you don’t have yours on and you can’t breathe, you’re really no use to anyone around you. It reminds me of life, actually: if we don’t ensure our ‘oxygen mask is on’ (aka taking time for ourselves and caring for our bodies, minds, and spirits), we’re not going to be much use to those around us.
Working in a women’s health clinic, I often meet with women who have recently had a baby. And the most common nutrition-related concerns I hear from them are generally 1) “what should I be eating (or not eating) if I’m breastfeeding?”, 2) “how can I lose this ‘baby weight’?”, and 3) “I feel like I don’t even have time to eat – let alone try to eat HEALTHY!”. Between feedings, diaper changes, caring for this crazy yet amazing new little person, trying to keep the home somewhat in order, and trying to have a shower at least once a week, it can be tough to find (or take) the time to take care of YOURSELF! The thing is, though, I often have clients who have older kids – even adult kids – who still struggle to take time to care for themselves.
Maybe it’s a lack of time, maybe it’s a perceived lack of time, or maybe it’s a feeling of guilt (“there’s so much to be done! I can’t spend an hour just sitting and reading a book!”). Either way, it’s easy to let ourselves slip to the back burner – especially for moms.
So, let me give you permission to throw that guilt out the window and take the time to care for yourself.
What refreshes and rejuvenates you? a walk outside? a good book? a nap? a good cup of coffee with a great friend? working out? simply wandering around the mall by yourself? Whatever it is, I encourage you to make it a priority. Not only will you feel strengthened and encouraged, but you’ll then feel more energized and equipped to care for all those who depend on you.
And part of caring for ourselves is what we eat. I’m not suggesting you spend hours cooking an elaborate meal every day. I’m simply saying make it a priority to eat as healthfully as you can – within reason. Maybe that means keeping some bananas and apples in a bowl on the counter so you can grab a nutritious snack instead of an equally easy but unhealthy snack. Maybe it’s keeping a steady supply of frozen veggies in the freezer so you can ensure you always have some sort of vegetables with every supper – but without requiring a ton of prep time. Perhaps it’s choosing to simply swap out all sugary drinks for water (literally no extra effort involved there). Or setting reminders in your phone to drink some water every hour so you’re not walking around feeling tired and dehydrated. Think of something that’s practical for YOU and start there. It’s all too tempting to see Insta-models with their ‘perfect’ bodies and their drool-worthy meals and think that’s what it means to eat healthy. Stop scrolling through their photos and instead start with a change that’s doable. And then once that change becomes a habit, move onto something else.
Now, you may be saying, “What do YOU know? You’re not a mom.” You’re right. (unless you count cats as children… just kidding, lol) But I’ve seen firsthand in both my professional and personal life the difference it makes when a woman begins to intentionally care for herself. So, moms, this Mother’s Day I hope you feel insanely special, loved, and appreciated for all you are and all you do. And I hope that you see this as an opportunity to put your own oxygen mask on first so that you’re able to care for all those in your world who depend on you.
Happy Mothers’ Day 🙂