Mother’s Day is seen as a day to honor mothers for all their hard-work, unconditional love and support provided to their offspring and the rest of the world. Many children may find themselves wondering what to get mom for this special day. Things like flowers, gift cards and massagers may go a long way, so we do our best to put a smile on mom’s face.
However, in this role as a counselor, I have found that many mothers have indicated “I just want some time to myself.” This is especially communicated by mothers of young children, adolescents and those who are taking care of their elderly parents.
Whether you’re a career mom or a homemaker, being a mother is a job in itself, while running a home is a lot like running a business, to add to that a pandemic, this could leave little time, energy or motivation for self-care, let alone self-compassion. For some, these notions may seem far from reach, but it is possible to achieve.
Here are a few ways to help improve self-compassion and self-care during times where it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day.
1. Understand that “There is a time for Everything”. There is a time to work, there is a time to play, there is a time to nurture others and there is a time to nurture self. It may be necessary to keep a calendar not just for work, but also to remind yourself to schedule some time for self-compassion or self-care. Whatever you have to do, remember your wellness is an important part of the wellness of those around you.
2. Boundaries with work: Establish clear ground rules when working from home, especially while taking care of children, or homeschooling. For example: Turn off your phone notifications when you’re with your children or talk with your colleagues about good and bad times of day for calls.
3. A wise person once said “You don’t have to be mother of the year this year.” Often times, mothers may feel obligated to be present for their children in a way they perceived no one to have been present for them during their upbringing. Be sure that you’re not projecting your fears onto your children by becoming a helicopter parent. As previously mentioned, understand the importance of timing and maintaining a balance in your time both as a parent, worker, and as an individual.
4. Know who you are: First and foremost, you’re an individual. The basis of caring for someone else is to love yourself and know what you need. If you were asked the question: “Who are you?” What would your answer be? It may be necessary to practice self-compassion in order to enhance your knowledge of self. A few ways you can start practicing self-compassion are:
- Write a letter to yourself (what needs to be said? Be honest with yourself.)
- Practice mindfulness by acknowledging your thoughts, rather than judging or reacting to them.
- Be kind to yourself even when you fail or even when you get angry (things don’t always have to be in order).
- Treat yourself as you would treat your closest friend.
- Mothers tend to want what’s in the best interest of their children. Have that same mindset and desire for yourself.
- While being a parent can be such a great joy and rewarding even, remember you’re so much more than a parent.
5. Boundaries can never be mentioned enough. Boundaries with work, boundaries with your children and even boundaries with your significant other are important when it comes to self-compassion. Understand that loving someone doesn’t mean saying “yes” to their every request.
“It is important that loving another person doesn’t take priority over listening to yourself and knowing what you need.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
6. Remember you don’t have to keep everything to yourself. Sometimes you may have a lot going on within and feel you have no outlet. Take time to talk about your struggles. Whether it’s anxiety (your fears), or your inability to cope with the world that’s going on around you, having an outlet can be a very cathartic experience. Take time to speak with a trusted friend, family member or even a mental health counselor.
Remember, you deserve to reap the care, compassion and understanding that you give to others.
By, Ashley Vazquez, MBA, MFT, EAP Counselor