This past weekend I had an opportunity to attend a retreat just for moms. The purpose of the retreat was to force moms to do something most of us rarely ever do: take time out for ourselves and make ourselves a priority. Some people may think they make themselves a priority, but they really don’t.
Can you think of ten things you love to do — without the kids or spouse? When was the last time you truly did something because YOU wanted to do it? When was the last time you added yourself to your own calendar? Do you even remember the person you were before you became a mom? Or have you become a victim of identity theft due to motherhood?
There are so many reasons or excuses we make as to why we can’t find even 15 minutes in a day to pour love into ourselves as mothers. Most of the time we either feel that self-care equals selfishness, or that we have guilt around anything that doesn’t revolve around our children. I’ve told my story about losing myself in motherhood, and that’s when I realized that I hardly ever put myself on my own list of priorities once I became a mom. I had to learn and understand the importance of self-care, the importance of learning how to FLY (first love yourself). Self-care is not something that has to be a grand, elaborate ordeal. It doesn’t even have to be something that costs you money. This retreat was all about learning ritualistic self-care: it’s strategic, meaning you take time to do something for yourself every single day (read, write, exercise, bike, craft, etc.).
There were moms from all walks of life that attended — single moms, married moms, divorced moms — all with the same common goal: to pour some love back into ourselves so that we could return home and be more loving for our families. Many people made sacrifices to be there, one mom even came straight from her dialysis treatment (that she has to go to three times a week) because she understood that she needed to do this for herself. Taking time to love and care for yourself is the best gift you can give your child. Why? Because when we are more relaxed, nurtured, and loved, we can then give that to our children. We can’t give them what we don’t have, which is often times what we try to do.
There were a few key areas that were talked about in order for us to adapt, and take home to incorporate into our own lives.
Build your own community: A while back I did an interview with Kym Whitley and she talked about how she had to rally her friends and create her own village when she decided to adopt her son. She knew that as a single mom, she was going to need the support and assistance of her close friends. This idea continued to be addressed throughout the weekend. If you’re a single mom or just don’t have the support of family members close by so that you can take an occasional mommy break, how can you build your own village? Every mom needs her own village.
Overcome the excuses: Taking care of yourself as a mom is vital to the well-being of our children. Stop making time, money or lack of resources a reason as to why you don’t invest in yourself physically, emotionally or spiritually. While times are hard on everyone right now, there are still ways that you can take time to love yourself. You may not have money to hire a baby sitter. But can you swap services with another mom so that you can go for a walk by yourself, or just have a few hours of peace and quiet in the house by yourself? This goes back to building your own community. Look around for free events that you can attend, and utilize discount deal sites like Groupon and Living Social for steep discounts on activities to pamper yourself.
Commit to yourself: Once you’ve created your village of support and have overcome the common excuse of lack of money, or lack of community, you have to make it important enough that you keep your own commitment to yourself. Just like you strive to keep the promises you make to others, be sure to keep the promises you make to yourself. If you say you’re going to exercise twice a week, then don’t break that commitment. If you say you want to take a cooking class, then commit to doing that. We have to set the example of how we want others to treat us.
Date yourself: We talk about the importance of dating our spouses and dating our children. But when was the last time you took yourself on a date? Once you’ve made the commitment to yourself, be sure to create a system around it so that it becomes ritualistic. What are the hobbies or things you loved to do before you became a mom? What are some interests you have that you haven’t found time to pursue? Set a schedule, and don’t forget to add you to your calendar so that you can follow through with it.
This retreat was powerful because it reiterated just how essential it is for me, as a mom to practice ritualistic self-care. Yes, it can be challenging at first. But with the right community and systems in place, it is definitely doable and should be non-negotiable. There is nothing selfish about making time to focus on ourselves when it can only make us a better mother for our children.
BMWK: Do you take time out pour love into yourself? What are some challenges you have around that?