Begin in Savasana & Other Self-Care Ideas for Busy Moms

“Only when we learn that taking care of ourselves is as necessary as taking care of our families; only when we begin to accept ourselves, imperfections and all; only when we permit ourselves to face the limits of what we can do for the people we love do we achieve our fullest potential as mothers. Our children’s self-esteem is linked to our own. As we learn to accept ourselves as we are, we guide our children in their journey toward loving themselves as we love them, flaws and all.”

– Karen Kleiman, LCSW and Valerie Davis Raskin, MD
(This isn’t what I expected; overcoming postpartum depression)

I would have REALLY benefited from reading this quote before I became a mom, but often the case in life, we develop the wisdom we need after experiencing some type of hardship. Fortunately, I realized my need to engage in more self-care and advocated for that time fairly early on in my parenting journey.

What took longer was moving this realization from my head to my heart because I had internalized society’s message that mothers should completely sacrifice their needs and wants in order to be the best parent possible, and consequently still experienced unnecessary guilt when I engaged in self-care.

What is self-care?

One definition explains that it is care provided “for you, by you.” It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. It is taking the time to do some of the activities that nurture you. Self-care is about taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others.

Here is a simple acronym to remember some basics of self care as well:

S = sleep (4-5 hrs straight*)
E = exercise
L = laughter
F = food (healthy)

*Of course, you’ll need more than just 4-5 hrs of sleep in the long term. (I might not have gotten this amount until my son was a year old). The benefit of this amount consecutively is that you can get a full REM cycle of sleep, which is crucial emotionally and physically.

What are some concrete examples?

  • One mom of three begins every weekday with a 5:45 AM Boot Camp class at the fitness center before her husband goes to work.
  • Another mom of three sits on the couch and proudly does “nothing”!
  • One mom of two drops her children off at the recreation childcare center where she takes a pottery class once a week.
  • One single mom of one puts her child in front of the TV during the day, so she can spend 30 minutes every day reading inspirational literature, meditating, and/or writing.

Why do moms have so much GUILT about doing self-care?

  • Mothers are still expected on a conscious or more likely unconscious level to BE THERE 100% for their families and modify or sacrifice their emotional, social, physical and spiritual NEEDS, such as foregoing a weekly exercise class and passing up participating in a book club. I think this is an expectation that even many mothers impose on themselves.
  • Our American culture values work, achievements, and money more than emotional and spiritual growth and wellness self-care.

On the other hand, when we commit to a self-care practice, our level of peace, happiness and deep self-worth GROWS, and stress, negative thinking and disconnection from our intuition LESSENS. Therefore, it is essential to make our self-care a top priority if we value ourselves and our children developing healthy self-esteem.

Consider these tips to improve your self-care:

1. Begin in savasana, so you don’t miss the “desserts” in life.

Before my son was 3 years old, his sleep schedule was erratic. Consequently, my morning yoga/meditation practice could be interrupted at a moment with his cry signaling he was ready to eat or as he got older, “The sun is up!”. Thus, I often missed out on the most delicious part of the yoga practice- savasana (resting corpse pose).

I soon wised up and began my practice non-traditionally with savasana. As a busy mom (as we all are), we either find a new flow through creativity and emotional flexibility or feel frustrated because life is no longer as simple or under our control as it was before kids.

2. Let some things go (& how to say, “NO!” like a 2 year old).

Since we all have a limited amount of time, money, and energy, we have to let some things go. In Jessica Gimeno’s TED Talk, How to Get Stuff Done When You Are Depressed, he explains, “When we say YES to everything, WE amplify our stress.”

She also explains that our families and we benefit from knowing the difference between essential and non-essential tasks, and being able to say, “NO” to non-essential tasks. Meeting your work deadline and feeding your baby are essential. The church bake sale and DIY party decorations are non-essential. Regarding self-care, it was more essential for me to get out of my house and to library story times with my young son than taking care of my appearance, and honestly the librarians and other parents never seemed to care about my lack of vanity.

3. Turn off your phone, computer, & all other distractions, including finding childcare, to deeply connect with yourself.

This exercise will help you answer, “What does self-care mean to me?” if you aren’t sure yet. You can re-read the definition I included in this blog and sit with your eyes closed and breathe. Pranayama, meditation, and yoga allow me to connect to my intuition. Writing and being in nature does as well. Ask yourself, “What experiences do I find nurturing, restorative, and pampering? What are my needs and my wants? What entails taking care of myself?”

Beginning your day with meditation, before the kids are up, is also an effective way to get clear about your daily and long-term intentions/vision/goals and allow yourself to listen to your inner wisdom.

4. Choose feasible self-care goals.

I was skeptical of the benefits (for myself) of the “30 Days to Grace” program before I was a mom because I was used to doing a 1-1.5 hour yoga practice vs. a mere 15 minutes of poses in the 30 Days program. After becoming a mom, the reality of a lack of time set in and I decided to try this program. I was happy to discover that A LITTLE SELF-CARE CAN GO A LONG WAY. This might also be a massage or book club once a month reading a prayer or inspirational quote with coffee before the kids wake up.

5. Commit fully & believe in the merits of your self-care practice.

If you have a partner/spouse, let them know how important their support for this practice is to you, and you too will benefit tremendously by consistently following through with your self-care practice.

Before I was a mom, I viewed self-care as important as a healthy diet, exercise, sleep, etc. It’s just what I did for my overall health. I also felt that it allowed me to be more present, joyful, and compassionate with my spouse and clients.

What helped me make the shift to valuing self-care again was both realizing that it is crucial that I model for my child overall health and personal growth and that I believe in my heart that there is nothing selfish about taking care of one’s emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. Overall well-being allows us to achieve our fullest potential as individuals.

If you would like support in beginning or enhancing a self-care practice as a Mom, Contact Lana Isaacson, LCSW, CAC III, Certificate in Marriage & Family Therapy at 720.432.5262, [email protected], or schedule a free consultation or appointment here