For a long time I always thought that my kids should always come first. While that is true for the most part, I forgot that I mattered too. See, for the first few years of my first born’s life I was afraid to leave him, afraid to not be there for any firsts, guilty for enjoying time away from him, guilty for leaving him to be cared for by someone else- even if it was my own mother. Some people ask, why? A lot of it stemmed from me getting sick a week after giving birth. The fact that I had no choice but to leave him while I went to the hospital for almost 5 days (that is another story I’m willing to share if you all want, just ask!). I was very overprotective of him and in reality I still am but I have learned a lot in the last 5 years and now being a mom of 2. All those insecurities of being a first time mom at a young age are now turned into fuel for a better me because I matter too. Below I talk about 5 major things that I have learned and still am learning about taking care of myself while being a mother. In reality all the things I talk about and choose to do for myself “first” are still me thinking about my kids first because all things I chose to do are for a better ME for THEM!! By sharing this with you all, I am not trying to tell you that these are things that you should be doing as a parent or person. I am simply sharing what I have learned over the last few years that works for me. You’re the writer of your own story, you know what is best for you and your families!
- I come first. Let me first explain what I mean by that. Of course my kids will always come first when it comes to certain decisions I make. I will always make choices that puts their needs and safety first. I will be at every birthday, every dance recital, every game, every important accomplishment in their life before being any other place; I will ALWAYS choose to prioritize being present for them rather than being anywhere else. What I mean by saying I come first is that my mental health, my sanity comes first. I cannot be the mom they need me to be if I don’t take care of myself and learn to put myself first. How will I be able to care for them, play with them, feed them, talk to them and be present knowing that I am not happy or that I am struggling with the overwhelming emotions that come with being a mom? I love my kids to the core of me, they are truly everything and more to me. But if we are being honest, life as a mom gets overwhelming. It gets hard, it can sometimes get lonely too-especially being a stay at home mom. SO, me going out with my friends, choosing to go on a date to hang out with my boyfriend, stay at home while daddy takes them out so I can binge watch Grey’s Anatomy (my comfort show), putting them to sleep early so I can enjoy a glass of wine, leaving them at grandmas to get some sanity, all of that is OK and what I mean by putting myself first. My kids are loved, they are blessed to have a family that loves them, truly cares for them and spoils them. So, it’s ok to lean on them to take care of my babies so I can take care of ME and remind myself that I am a person too. I tend to forget that being a mom is not the only thing that I am. It took me some time to get to this point, but boy am I so happy I am finally ok with it!
- Ask for/accept help.This next part also piggy backs with the first. It is OK to ASK and ACCEPT the help from family and friends. When my son was first born, I was still living at my mom’s house. My son was a good sleeper. He would wake up for feedings and then go right back to sleep. My boyfriend worked in the city so he would be up super early in the morning and out the door by 6:30 am. My mom would also wake up early and she would always ask for the first month or two if I wanted her to take the baby so I can get some uniterrupted sleep. Most days I would be alright with it, but other mornings guilt used to set it in and I would say that I was not tired or got good sleep-when in reality I was exhausted! With my first born, guilt was probably the thing that held me back a lot. After having my daughter-having two kids 2 and under I said – YES PLEASE TAKE THEM BOTH! HAHA! I now understand that I do need help, if its offered – accept it, if it’s not offered and the person you want the help from is a trusted person then ASK! Motherhood is hard and it’s true when they say it takes a village. I appreciate my village SO much! My village helps me with my kids so I can take care of myself too. I understand that for some family may not an option but you have so many resources and help to create your own village!
- Take the time to eat healthy and work out. Prior to having babies I always enjoyed healthy foods,healthy snacks. Working out wasn’t so much my thing, but I would run a few times a week. I would snack on healthier foods for sure! My snacks would be cucumbers and tomatoes with a little sprinkle of salt and lemon rather than oreos and milk. When becoming pregnant with my daughter sweets were by BIGGEST weakness. Even after giving birth, the sweet tooth continued. Finally, after two years, I am finally learning to get back to my old ways. I will definitely enjoy my cookies and milk , but I am also relearning to enjoy my healthy snacks/meals so I can feel better in my own skin! I am also consistently working out 4-5 days a week for at least 30 minutes a day for the last three weeks. That is a MAJOR accomplishment for me and something I pride myself in because man have I needed it! I am taking care of myself, and at the same time leading by example for my kids. Since my workouts are at home- my kids are also watching. They also use that time to exercise with me-they burn energy while I burn off some fat!
- STOP WORRYING SO MUCH ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO SAY OR THINK. Social media has a lot to do with this part! I would always get into my own head about how I should look or appear to be as a mom for others- I wanted to feel and look put together. But motherhood is tough man, I lose my shit, I curse, I get overwhelmed- but not a person in this world loves my babies more than I do! At the end of the day, my kids are well taken care of, they are happy, they are healthy, they eat well, they sleep well and they PLAY non stop-all day long. Outside opinions do no matter in the slightest. Now, I can’t even believe that I used to care what others would think of me as a mom, what people will say about how my kids act or are being raised. I didn’t want people to think negative of me or think that I had no idea what I was doing. I used to care or think too much of what people would say if I was out one night, if I was hanging out somewhere and my kids weren’t with me, if I even had a little getaway without them (which I have yet to do because of the pandemic-but it is coming!) Now if you ask me, I don’t give a f***! People are going to think what they want whether you’re doing things to their “standards” or “liking” or not. These little humans I created are MINE and my partner’s, so what we do and what works for us is our problem, not yours! This is crucial in my mental health as a parent, and something that I still struggle with sometimes. But then I snap out of it and continue being the best mother I know how to be-my way.
- Rediscover my old passions or pursue new ones. Now this doesn’t necessarily have to be anything big or too out of reach. It’s something like writing this post for me. ( I have always been the best at expressing myself through writing so this was a breeze!) It also means taking care of my hair again, my skin care routine, FINALLY getting in a routine of working out, my hobbies before babies. It means setting the time aside and incorporating my self-care routines to align with my parenting and sometimes having my kids be a part of it. I have recently bought myself new skin care products and hair products to incorporate into my morning and night routines and this makes me SO happy. I am also pursuing other goals that I don’t want to speak on yet, but definitely working on some new things that I am looking forward to sharing with you all in the very near future! I am rediscovering how passionately I loved myself, my body before. I love myself in a different and I would say better way now after housing two beautiful healthy babies in my belly!
These 5 things that I have learned SO crucial in taking care of myself and prioritizing my happiness- so in turn my kids will benefit from the best me I can be for them! I am not perfect and I will never claim to be. I have so many flaws and mess up even with parenting. But parenting is not linear and neither is life. I am trying! It took me a while (my oldest is now 5 years old and my youngest is 2 years old) BUT I am finally DOING! I am setting goals and I am pursuing all I want to make myself happy and reminding myself that I matter too. Don’t ever forget –You do too mama!