Being a mom is a full-time job, except, unfortunately, it affords no breaks, vacation time, or pay and as a single mom of a small child, I understand how difficult it can be to make time for self-care with a never-ending 'to-do list to tackle. However, as a therapist, I also understand the importance of caring for my mental health. It can be difficult at times, but not impossible. Here are four ways to take better care of your mental health:
1. Schedule at least one 'me' day a month. Moms spend a lot of time tending to the needs of others, so it can be hard just to make time for ourselves. However, if we don’t we'll lack the physical and emotional energy to take care of others. Try to ensure that you have at least one day where you send your kids off with your partner, grandparents, or anyone else you trust to care for them. Use the time to do things that you enjoy. Don’t, and I repeat don't use this time to catch up on household chores or other mom-related things. Consider this to be your day off. You deserve it!
2. Cut back on multitasking. This may come as a surprise to some, but multitasking actually causes more stress and doesn’t actually help you to complete tasks efficiently. Research shows that multitasking makes your brain work harder, in turn reducing your mental performance. I know many of us mamas rely on multitasking to get things done, but there are more efficient ways. Try to tackle tasks that require the most energy first. It's also important to take a 60-90 minute break in between tasks so that you don’t get fatigued.
3. Embrace mom guilt. Parenting is hard work. All of us are doing the best we can with the resources and circumstances we have. There are times that we are going to make mistakes that may effect our children, but it’s okay. We’re human. Guilt is often something mothers experience because we are usually tasked with the bulk of childrearing. Add that to the demands of everyday life, like work, school, and family, it can be difficult to get it 'right'. If you’re experiencing a little mom guilt every now and then, try not to be too critical of yourself. You’re likely doing a much better job than you think.
4. Develop a daily self-care practice. Take a few minutes in the morning to sit quietly with yourself. Journal. Exercise. Take a nice, long shower. Do at least one thing every day to care for yourself and make 'you' feel good.
5. Stop comparing yourself to other mamas. I know this is much easier said than done, as we live in an age where everyone seems to be flaunting the most amazing parts of their lives for complete strangers to see, and it can often leave us feeling insecure about ourselves. Even if they appear to - no one has the motherhood thing completely figured out. Your version of motherhood is unique to you and you don’t have to prove yourself to others.
Mamas, we may have the hardest, most important job in the world. In order to keep doing what we do, we have to make sure that we’re making our mental health a priority. It can be challenging do so, but you cannot value anyone else’s wellbeing more than your own. Let’s start taking better care of ourselves!
Tiffany Hall is a psychotherapist, writer, and creative, specializing in helping the busy and overwhelmed prioritize their mental health and relationships.
You can find her on Instagram at @melanatedmillenialtherapist.