While I do believe it is extremely important for the village to step up and help mothers of all kinds, it is just as important for mothers to care for themselves, especially when they have multiples.
I’d been searching in my head for the longest time for the right way to describe how I’ve felt lately, battling it out daily with two 2 year olds. Then, today, it hit me: By the end of the day I honestly feel beat up, like I’ve been in the ring all day and I’m just ready to fall over for the count. Now, some days are not that way at all, but when things are bad, they are very bad.
That said, until recently, I’ve actually done a great job at taking care of myself, for my daughters’ sake. After all, I didn’t have a village to lean on; I didn’t have a neighbor to chat with. I’ve been on-call 100 percent of the time. It dawned on me two weeks ago that I’d been so busy being the mom that I forgot about the woman — a classic no-no in my world. Let’s blame it on mommy brain and move on to these tips. I’ve done all of them and with the exception of a few rough patches, I’ve managed to stay mostly sane and happy and gracious these last 2.5 years.
10 Ways to help Yourself, MoMs:
- Go Away! That’s right. Leave. The. Babies. This is the hardest one for me, I admit. But, it’s always the best remedy for even the worst week. You don’t have to hire a sitter, unless of course, you have to hire a sitter — some situations may require it. But, it’s important to remember to focus on yourself, no matter how busy you feel you are. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, you don’t even need to go far. You just need to take an hour or two away — and by that I do not mean shopping for groceries or children’s clothes.
- Treat Yourself: Buy a bag of chocolate, a bottle of wine or crack open a new spa pedicure product. Or, go all out and do all three! Take care of your body, offer it soul food and sustenance on whatever budget you can afford. Make a portion of every day all about you even if it is stealing a piece of chocolate between tantrums or crying jags. The important part of this tip, though, is to enjoy that bliss fully and be awake for it. You can eat a bag of chocolate quickly without thought or you can eat one slowly, enjoying every single tingle on your taste buds.
- Walk: I’ve walked for my sanity since about week three — even in the middle of winter. I do believe the first picture of me out with the girls includes going for a walk with snow on the ground. And, I’ve recently found a love for walking for pleasure, too. Walks alone allow me time to clear my head, distance myself from the day’s chaos and helps me put myself and my life back into alignment. Then again, I’m always one to choose fresh air and movement over sitting in a theater or hanging at the mall.
- Write or Talk: It’s hard for me to imagine motherhood without writing about it. I can’t even comprehend it, actually. That’s how much writing about it means to me. But, talking about it is just as fun and helpful. Share conversations by e-mail, through message boards or blogging — or, if you are lucky enough, talk with a good friend or two.
- Have purpose: This is perhaps the most important thing a new mother of this generation must do, especially if you had a career that you’ve given up to stay home with your babies. No matter your purpose, live it fully and openly so you always have something other than babies to think about, work toward and dream about. It could be a hobby, a lifelong dream, or achieving a goal. It doesn’t matter so long as it works for you.
- Do nothing: I only recently figured this step out. I was spending too much time on the computer for my breaks, too much time meal-planning, budget-planning and deal shopping. Even breaks in front of the TV or talking on the phone were too much. I needed to do nothing, in silence, to recover from the party of multiples. We all know there is rarely a moment’s peace and people like me who are true introverts — who need time with themselves to recharge — need that time away from the noise. Laying on a mat in the living room during naps is a great way to reconnect with your thoughts and body. But, you could easily sit and drink tea and look out the window, too.
- Join a moms group: Check out a local twins club, but don’t feel that has to be the only club you join. In fact, other moms groups might be able to offer more support, especially in the later years when more kids are the same age.
- Take pictures: Our best days seem to always end up on camera. I’m not sure if the days are better because I took pictures or if the day was just so good I thought pictures were necessary. Regardless, i can’t stress this enough: take tons and tons. Cherish the memories, yes, but snap proof that you weren’t always crying or sad or scared. Because, seriously, we do smile more and laugh more than cry, right? Right? Right?
- Break your rules: Go ahead, give the kids a cookie for breakfast. Let them watch yet another movie even though you swore they’d never watch any at all. Watch bedtime come and go and smile about it. Maybe not every day. Maybe not even every other day. But now and then a good, solid breaking of the rules can make a Mama feel really, really good.
- Relish mornings: Early wake-ups can get a day off on the wrong foot, I know. With twice the kids, it’s bound to happen more than we’d like. Use this time to your advantage. Sit down with a cup of coffee and some magazines and leaf through while the kids play. Take a few minutes and everyone draw together on a piece of paper. Or, snuggle under the covers. Breathe deep. And repeat this mantra: “We’re going to have a great day today.” Repeat as often as needed.
How about you? Are you taking care of yourself? Anything you wish you could do each day? What kind of effort are you going to start making? I’ve read a lot recently about how it takes 30 days to change a habit. Let’s make taking care of ourselves a habit this July — making it a true Independence celebration.
You may read more of my thoughts on motherhood at my blog Between the Lines.