The 5 Things Moms Need to Do to Be Our Best

Self on 05.24.12
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I originally titled this post "The 5 Things I Hate About Myself Right Now." I know it's not exactly an uplifting title, nor is it really appropriate for the point I want to get across, but it was the first thing that came to mind when I was trying to put my thoughts into words. I don't hate my life in any way. I know I am beyond fortunate to have such an amazing family and friends and live in the beautiful place that I do. But this week I have realized over and over again that I continue to do myself a disservice by not taking good enough care of things that I need and it is my own fault. I don't mean things that I need to take care of so that my children are fed, my work is done, and my house is taken care of. I mean things I need for me, myself, and I to be the best I can be which will in turn translate into being a better mother, spouse, friend, and person in general, and I hate that I'm not doing these things to make me that person.

1. Exercise- At 35, I still like the idea of being fit for reasons of appearance, but what really bothers me about not finding the time to exercise has way less to do with the way I look and is much more along the lines of it not being as easy to bounce back from an injury as I age. This week I got tripped up on my flip flop while chasing my three-year-old across the basketball court at the playground. I haven't fallen that hard in a long time, and while there is no doubt that I would have been injured even if I was in tip top shape, I'm quite certain that the range of motion in my arm and shoulder which broke my fall would have come back sooner than it has and that three days later I wouldn't still be struggling to scratch my back or clasp my bra. And I know for sure that I need to get my body in better physical condition now before it gets any harder to bounce back from this full contact sport called parenting.

2. Stress Reduction- When was the last time that you did something for yourself? I recall last summer after having a particularly long few weeks of work both mentally and physically that I went for a massage. As the masseuse worked on my body, I could tell that she wasn't even going to make a dent in the damage I'd done to my muscles although it felt amazing. I estimate that it would have taken weekly massages for a minimum of three months to get my muscles to fully relax. It's been nearly a year since that massage and I haven't been back for one since. Who has the time (or the money) for that? Not only do I notice the tenseness of my muscles every night when I go to bed because I can't relax them, but recently I've noticed that the stress has moved beyond my muscles and into many other aspects of my health. I typically very rarely need to go to the doctor, but this winter I had strep three times, followed by my first bout of poison ivy which spread quickly and took weeks to heal, the occasional bout of hives for apparently no reason, and now this week it is teeth grinding and canker sores filling my mouth. My body is crying "uncle." Not taking the time to relieve myself of stress is only making it harder for me to take care of my family and causing me more stress which creates more problems which is in no way helpful.

3. Sleep- I typically stay up until about 11:30 p.m. or midnight to get my work done and I wake up (although I don't necessarily get up) between 6:30 and 7 a.m. thanks to my cherubs. Seven hours of sleep isn't horrible, but when people ask me if I'm a night person or a morning person, my answer is neither. What I learned in my years without children is that I really need a solid nine hours of sleep to be my best. If I could sleep from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. or 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. every night I might not have the coffee IV running all day long. While some people can operate on less or may even need more, I need to find a way to make that happen. There is no doubt that our children are still small and I'm trying to juggle the work-life-daycare balance and I choose to have the schedule I do, but I need to work harder on making some adjustments so that I can get closer to those nine hours of sleep that I need more regularly. Lack of sleep doesn't just make me tired, but it makes it harder to make good decisions which can make things more stressful, and it makes it harder to find the energy to exercise.

4. Me Time- Can you remember the last time that you didn't have a child by your side or you weren't working? If you're anything like me you go from child care to work and back to child care barely taking a moment to do something by yourself and for yourself. I love my family, but I would also love to run errands or tackle a house project with no one else around so that I don't have to referee sibling arguments while shopping or trying to paint. Family time is awesome, but it's just as important to have alone time to recharge.

5. Beauty Treatments- For Mother's Day my mother gave me a gift certificate to get my hair dyed. While to some that may seem rude, I've been dealt my mother's genes and like her started going gray at a very young age. But what bothered me most about the gift was not that she was giving me something to hide my age, but that I had bought hair dye several weeks ago and just hadn't been able to find the time to get to it. Yes, this goes back to the "me time" issue, but at the same time it also addresses the taking care of me issue. The fact is that I feel better about myself when I take care of things like this and in turn I feel more confident which makes me happier and allows me to project a better image for my business which is really important to me. 

I know that I won't find the time to do these things every day. But I will make an effort to carve out 30 minutes a day to take care of at least one of these things every day and considering that I don't take the time for any of them at the moment that should be a major improvement. Plus, once they all start to fall into place, I should be more energetic, less stressed, and more productive. So while time may be the biggest issue, finding that 30 minutes will ultimately create more time for me. Today I think I'll go for a 30 minute walk by myself and that should help me tackle three of the above issues, exercise, stress relief, and me time. Ahhhh, I feel better already.

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