One mom fills you in on why it’s so important to take care of yourself and how to do it.
Not too long ago, I sat in my doctor’s office being reprimanded for a severe case of strep throat, a sinus infection and a few other various ailments that had apparently been lingering for quite a while. After two shots, three prescriptions, a few samples and an intense lecture, my doctor asked a very logical question: “How did you let yourself get this sick? Haven’t you felt bad for weeks?” Well, yeah. But my kids were sick, and the dog had a vet appointment, and my husband had been out of town, and I had work to do and clothes to wash and…well, honestly, I just hadn’t had the time to be sick. So I ignored it.
Sound familiar? Probably so—moms are notorious for not taking care of themselves. I would never let my kids go more than a day or two with a sore throat without taking them to the pediatrician, but I’ll buy every remedy at the drugstore to treat my own before I break down and make myself an appointment.
In reality, though, taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do for your children. Struggling along doesn’t really help anyone in your family. Sure, you can play that game of peek-a-boo with a 102 degree fever—but wouldn’t you both enjoy it a lot more if you felt 100 percent? “No matter how big the plastic smile or how sing-songy the voice, kids are perceptive little beings,” says Jennifer Kalita, a Washingon D.C.-based business consultant and author of The Home Office Parent. “Think about the flight attendant’s instructions to put your mask on first, and then those of your children…because if you pass out, you’re of no use to anyone.” So even though it can seem terrifying (don’t we all hope we never have to reach for that mask?), taking care of your own needs—physically, mentally and emotionally—is essential to the safety and happiness of your family.
To stay cool, calm and in control, try these tools of the trade that moms everywhere endorse.
Go to the doctor.If you don’t feel well, the sooner you get it taken care of the sooner you’ll be back to your old self.
Get some sleep. Being tired is par for the course in parenthood, but you don’t have to drag. Taking a nap once a week when your baby does or crashing at 7 pm one night can make a huge difference.
Relax. Every single person in this world needs a minimum of an hour a week to do something they enjoy. Watch a TV show, read, knit—whatever it is that does it for you, do it. No babies allowed.
Eat well. Trust me—no one who writes for P&N will discourage you from indulging that Ben & Jerry’s craving. But you do have to make sure you’re also eating plenty of fresh fruits, veggies and other good-for-you foods.
Get moving. Even if exercising isn’t your thing, get out and take a walk around the block. It will make you feel better, sleep better and think better—and honestly, all moms could use a little boost in those departments.