January 8, 2019

Caring for Your Family by Caring for Yourself

I once knew a mom who rarely spent any time with her young daughter. She worked full-time, not out of financial necessity but simply because she wanted to feel “important” and “fulfilled” and made it clear that being “just a mom” didn’t fit that bill. She dropped her child off at the babysitter’s by 7AM and either went shopping or out for drinks with colleagues every night while her husband retrieved the child from daycare. She also took weekend “me-time” trips two or three times a month, leaving her daughter with her husband, mother, or in-laws. And she once “bragged” to me that her life had barely changed since the baby’s birth, smiling broadly as she said, “I hardly ever have to spend more than an hour with her on weekdays. I get home and then it’s pretty much her bedtime and I have four or five hours to myself again before I go to bed. Most of the time it’s like she’s not even here.” 

Sensitive moms – whether or not we also have paid jobs – obviously don’t want to be like that. We care deeply for our children and husbands, and we want to manage our homes well. Thus, we wrestle with finding time to take care of ourselves and feel guilty taking it when we do find it. We’d never dream of denying our kids or husband opportunities for spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, and relational growth and development. But, because of “mom-guilt,” we squash our own needs for the same. Commendable as our commitment is in the midst of an entitlement-oriented, self-centered culture, we then too often find ourselves teetering on the edge of exhaustion and burnout.

That selfish woman I knew wanted her time for herself; she pursued her activities to make herself feel good. She never saw it while I knew her, but her underlying motivations were just wrong. However, if we purpose to carve out some time for ourselves with another goal in mind – i.e., so we’ll find refreshment for our bodies, minds, and souls that will enable us to then be better in our roles as mother and wife – we need not feel guilty at all. And, if we’re intentional as we plan our days, we can find and maintain balance so that we don’t go overboard and become self-centered in our self-care.

I really enjoy exercising, but in the last few years I’d allowed work demands and excuses to push regular trips to the gym off my schedule. Unfortunately, I paid the price, physically, emotionally, and even mentally. But shortly before the start of the new year, I got so sick of feeling sick and tired that I decided to prioritize working out again. For the first few days, trekking to the gym felt like a chore. But within a week my desire to stick to it kicked in, and now my husband and kids are benefitting because I have more energy, and I’m more content and peaceful. In other words, the hour I spend away from home each day enables me to be much more fully present when I return.

What’s one way you can commit to caring for your family by caring for yourself this year?

CK

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Photo Credit: Marko

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