“She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laugh without fear of the future” – Proverbs 31:25
I’ve been struggling with balancing my full-time job, motherhood, and taking care of myself. I’ve felt lost, alone, and powerless. These past few months I have taken steps to correct those feelings. I’ve been working with my doctor, I’ve stepped back from volunteer positions, and I’ve been exercising and eating healthier foods.
However, there are still more days than not when I’m drained of energy and barely able to boil the water for macaroni and cheese. There are evenings when I want to play and read my children a story, but all I can do is keep myself upright until they’re in bed. While I know much of this relates to my long-time struggle with depression, this has given me the opportunity to really look at myself, my needs, and what I need to be more resilient. I know I’m not the only parent who struggles, whether it is with a mental health issue, a physical health problem, or daily life stress. So, what does resiliency mean? What does it mean for ME?
The website www.Zerotothree.org has a wonderful article on this topic titled “Building Resiliency: The Power to Cope with Adversity.” Resilience is referred to as “ordinary magic.” The magic of a hug, a snuggle, sitting down to dinner with our children, or reading a book are activities that build resilience and encourage its development. The article states that resiliency can be “recognized and fostered at … four levels.” They are the individual child, the family, the caregiving level, and the community. Additionally, it states that resilient children are able to engage in age-appropriate activities, relate well to others, and understand their family life. The authors go on to discuss how parents can support resiliency in their own children by teaching self care, emphasizing the positive, building a strong parent-child bond, encouraging social skills, having a daily routine, nurturing self-esteem, and practicing personal reflection.
Great stuff, right? But what does it mean for me? First, what it means is I’m not doing a bad job as a mom. I used that list of what parents can do as a self-test and I passed with flying colors! Even when I do little else well in a day, I still do what I need to do and whatever I can do to raise my little people well and with all my love. Second, it means that despite what I struggle with, I’m protecting my own children from future adversity by providing them with routine, the skills to take care of themselves, and by having daily moments where we truly connect with each other.
The idea of taking 15 minutes to ourselves was around long before I became a mom, but now that I’ve been one for a few years, that idea makes me laugh because: A) who has 15 minutes in the day between laundry, cooking, and teaching our children not to eat with their feet on the table? B) Who can get rested and restored in 15 minutes?! I need closer to an hour and a half. Or two hours. I had been sneaking that in after they fell asleep, but staring at the TV for three hours isn’t exactly on any good self-care list. So, I’ve been splurging on yoga (Groupons, baby!) and
forcing myself to go running. Yes, forcing myself. Because while I may not enjoy it while I’m out there, I enjoy how I feel afterward.
Basically, I take care of myself the way I take care of my children. I use kind words with myself, I treat myself to something nice, and I get lots of hugs and snuggles from those I love. And the experts say that’s what really matters.
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