I read your post Are You a Burned Out Mom on MomsWellbeing.com, and I'm burned out! I have three children; two are in school, and my youngest is three at home with me. I live far from family and don't have much support. The few friends I have are also busy with their children. How can I focus on self-care if I don't have supportive family and friends nearby and financially we're just making ends meet, so hiring a sitter is out of the question. What would you suggest?
Thanks for reaching out, and I hear you, finding the time for self-care when you are constantly caring for your family and with limited support is challenging. First, I want to encourage you head back over to MomsWellBeing.com and take the quiz, “Are You a Burned Out Mom?” When I wrote the post you mentioned, the quiz wasn’t available, so please take it, and you’ll receive a lot of information, feedback, and suggestions on how to decrease burnout and increase well-being and self-care.
I also want to encourage you to move away from thinking self-care is an activity that occurs when you away from your children. Having this mindset will limit the creative ways to increase self-care in your life. Practically speaking, committing to self-care takes time, effort and planning. As a mom to four, working part-time, living away from family, I do understand the challenge of finding time for self-care.
First, I want to encourage you to focus on your physical self-care. Make sure you get enough sleep, hydration, nutrition and exercise. While it can be tempting to stay up late or skimp on sleep, make sure to get enough rest; adequate sleep provides a foundation of energy and helps access healthy coping skills.
Try to be creative as you can to find small amounts of time dedicated to self-care. For example, set your alarm fifteen to thirty minutes earlier than your children wake to take time for yourself. While it can be tough waking up earlier, by making sure to go to bed even a half-hour earlier at night, you can create self-care time in the morning. Use the time in the morning to do something you enjoy which restores your energy and brings you peace. Instead of folding a load of laundry, take the fifteen to thirty minutes to read, do yoga, meditate, journal, or any other meaningful and restorative activity. The laundry can wait and almost always gets done!
Next, make sure to plan out exercise, ideally, every day, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes. Take your youngest along with you for a walk in the park or neighborhood to get moving. Fresh air and exercise are fantastic for everyone!
Once physical self-care is in place, you can start adding other self-care behaviors in the categories emotional, mental/cognitive, social and spiritual self-care. Start with small amounts of time and build from there. Self-care has to fit into your daily life and routine. In an ideal world, it would be great to have family and friends who can support us on our wellness journey. But the reality is for many of us, we have to find creative ways to cultivate self-care, while caring for our children.
© Copyright Dr. Claire Nicogossian 2016