Parenting is mandatory, uncompensated employment that can bring you extreme highs and severely frustrating lows. Every day we wake up hoping for the best while preparing ourselves for the worst. As we mentally check off the laundry list of chores, errands and obligations that each day brings, we constantly find ourselves making sacrifices to simply get.things.done. In true “momager” fashion, guess what goes on the chopping block first?! ANYTHING that pertains to Mom. We constantly red-shirt our own needs to make sure everyone else is cared for. This instinct is as basic and primal as the urge to feed and protect our baby cubs.
By always putting our own needs on the back burner, we eventually end up feeling neglected, unappreciated and run down. We let our hair color appointments go weeks past due until we’re literally hiding our roots with eyeliner and dry shampoo. (You all do that too, RIGHT?! Or is that just me?) Months go by and we can’t even remember the last time we painted our nails. Sometimes we’re still wearing a hint of last summer’s color on our toes in January. Ponytails become the norm and makeup becomes a luxury we rarely indulge in.
After the birth of my second daughter, I went into survival mode. Two children is no joke. I can still remember the total panic I felt when my husband’s paternity leave came to an end and I knew I was going to be left alone with these two tiny, demanding, loud, needy but insanely sweet humans. I can remember the postpartum emotions and how everything made me cry. I can remember the fear of knowing that I was responsible for keeping them alive! Who trusted me with this kind of responsibility anyways?!
Those first few weeks were a real struggle. A struggle trying to help baby adjust to the world and a struggle trying to help big sister adjust to the new screaming, pooping machine that we so kindly referred to as “the baby.” (For the love of everything holy, don’t make this mistake. Call the baby by his/her proper name.) It took us a while to realize just.how.much this upset our oldest daughter. Everyone who had always treated her like a princess and put her on a pedestal was now suddenly stopping by our house to see “the baby.” Big sister was getting very little attention while “the baby” was constantly oohh’d and aahh’d over. To be honest, this took a toll on our oldest. The good news is, we soon found our groove and things started to settle down; but those first few weeks were rough.
The further we got into this parenting multiple children thing, and the more sleep I missed out on, I slowly started to take less care of myself. I was doing the bare minimum to get by. For a while I chalked it up to “it is what it is.” But then I realized that my happiness was just as important as anyone else’s and that I need to make myself a priority. I also realized that I’m a much better wife and mother when I’m fulfilled on the inside.
I’m normally not a New Year’s Resolutions kind of person. I usually laugh at resolutions because, let’s face it, those things never last. But this year, I decided to get on board and make one of my own. I vowed to spend more time on myself! More workouts, more healthy living, more girl’s nights, more fun and only positive energy. I’m happy to report that it’s April and my resolution is still going strong! Most importantly, I’m much happier than I was before. I’ve learned that it is crucial to take care of myself. It wasn’t my husband or my kid’s fault that I was neglecting myself, it was my fault. It was that mom guilt that rages inside of us. But I’ve learned that I’m a much more productive and patient mother when I’m feeling accomplished on the inside. Take time for yourself. It’s not selfish, its imperative. Find time to pamper yourself. Get a mani/pedi. Go to the salon. Join a gym. Spend time with your girlfriends. Get a spray tan. Plan a kid-free vacation. Splurge and buy something you wouldn’t normally buy for yourself. Whatever it is that makes you happy, do it; because you deserve it.