Imperfect Mothers

Raising functional families, one mistake at a time

Self-Care for Moms, Part 1

Why mom needs to do her "thing."

An article on The Onion made its way around the Internet recently. Titled Mom’s Got her Thing Tonight, it struck the funny bones of moms everywhere. Briefly, it’s a spoof on a mom heading out to get some alone time—to do her thing. The kids have no idea what that thing actually is, or how long she’s been doing it. They only know that when mom comes home from doing her thing she’s in a good mood, and—most importantly—dinner’s in the fridge.

I had a good laugh at this, as did many of my mom-friends. It’s “been there; done thatfunny. How many of us have gone out to do something for ourselves, but not before leaving instructions, a clean soccer uniform, and a crockpot chili?  It’s also “nervous laugh” funny. The family is completely oblivious to what thing mom is doing; it’s ludicrous—and then we realize, oh right, my family doesn’t know what my thing is either.

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But after all the laughter, I realized that I don’t even remember the last time I tried to do my thing, and worst still, what that thing even is. That’s when it kind of stopped being funny.

I probably don’t have to sell you on the importance of self-care (which, of course, is what mom’s thing really is here). Just think of the airplane sign that shows a mom putting on her own oxygen mask before helping her child. Self-care activities are the oxygen we need to feed our body, mind, spirit and soul, so that we are better able to care for others.

What’s so laughable about this? And why do we moms find it so hard to take care of our own needs first? Over the next few weeks, I want to address these questions, as well as offer suggestions for fitting in self-care activities on a daily basis.

But first, what’s your thing? You probably have one in your head already—that thing that has been chasing you, popping up every now and then, that you know would be good for you if you would just do it. It could be something that is creative, restful, active, social or solitary.

If you can’t think of what your self-care activity might be, try this: what do you do when you’re procrastinating? When you need to do a mundane task, do you find yourself instead working on a jigsaw puzzle, talking on the phone, pursuing Pinterest, or going outside to shoot some hoops? Whatever you do when you’re supposed to be doing something for someone else, well, that just might be your thing.

So, step one: choose your thing. Then check back next week for ways to ensure that you get the self-care time you need.

Let’s do this thing, together.

Self-Care Ideas

Talk to a friend on the phone once a day; engage in social media; call your mother; join a book club and read everyday; research, plan, and create healthy meals; eat chocolate; do yoga stretches; take a nap; walk, jog, lift weights; observe nature; meditate, journal or pray; create playlists of old favorite music; go green; read blogs, cookbooks, or steamy fiction; write a blog, cookbook or steamy fiction; craft, paint, or plant; organize, plan your social calendar, decorate. I’d love to hear what you can add to this list.

Andrea Fox is a stay-at-home mother and widely published author of personal essays concerning the challenges and humor of parenting.

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