Self Care Is Not The Main Ingredient... But It Is The Secret Sauce
There was recently an article published by the blog Black Mom Life, that shared the opinion that “Black Mothers are drowning and self care is not the answer” . First, let me state that everyone is entitled to their opinion. That is why we have free speech! However, I would be remised not to share my opinion, (since I am a self care blogger) on some key points the author made throughout the blog post.
Categorizing Self Care As Mani Pedis and Warm Baths
For me, "at home mommy break” is an oxymoron. I cannot have a mommy break at home. It just doesn’t work for me when at any moment a child's (or husband’s) voice can interrupt my moment. I don’t want my husband or kids to ever think that mommy had a mommy break last night because she got to take a warm bath. No mommy took a warm bath, because it is as much part of her bedtime routine to decompress from the day as it is yours! That qualifies as the minimum necessary self care routine that all moms should have, and this is coming from a mom who is still trying to figure out how to do that regularly (warm baths at night that is). I am often a victim of fitting too much on my plate post bedtime and will de-prioritize the warm bath way too often. Yes, a manicure and pedicure can always be counted on as a mommy break but regular self care is also about going to see that play you have been hearing about. Checking out that new chick flick that just came out. Planning a solo or girls trip for the summer. Take a new class to learn a new hobby or just going for a walk for 30 minutes. Self care is about stepping out of mommy mode to reconnect with yourself.
Bearing the Mental Load By Yourself
In my book, The Mommy Break Project - A Self Care Manifesto, I talk about the mental load that is exclusive to Moms. I love my husband dearly, but when he is preparing for his March Madness marathon, he is not thinking about “I need to make sure I get dinner done first”. Or “do the kids have enough clean clothes for the week”. Nope that is exclusive to mommy’s mental to do list. We bare the burden of making sure the house is in order and our family is in order. We as moms, need to accept, embrace, and figure out how to effectively manage it all so that it does not consume us to the point of paralysis where you think you can’t take a mommy break. Or that having a moment in the middle of a Saturday afternoon is not going to be a value add. Now yes, there are husbands who do their fair share and there are those who do not. I suggest instead of starting a new battle with your spouse passively aggressively blaming him for what he is not doing to help, focus on what he is doing. Participating in children’s activities, helping with the school pick up or drop off routine, even storytime at bedtime, all count. My husband and I discussed division of labor when the kids were toddlers and it kind of stuck. Our rules are: if you cook dinner, you clean the kitchen. If you help with homework, you also do the bedtime routine. If you are sitting on the couch watching a marathon of football or basketball games, you impart a little grace and fold the load of clothes sitting next to you. I used to be that passive aggressive wife, and can sometimes relapse, but have chosen to just accept that our roles are our roles in the Walker household.
Building Your Dream Team
I agree with the author that having a village is key to managing the mental load, in my book, I talk about building a dream team comprised of a housekeeper, babysitter, and a supportive spouse to enable the moments of self care. Yes, this can be a significant financial commitment for many of us but you have to be creative. Here are some ideas:
Don’t Be Distracted
Self care is hot on social media right now, because it is just that important. Moms remember: YOU CANNOT POUR FROM AN EMPTY CUP. Given the mental load we do have to manage, it makes self care that much more important to unplug and recharge. If you do not you will be worth nothing to your children, spouse, family or friends. That’s no way to take advantage of this precious gift called life. Tomorrow is not promised, so today and everyday make the commitment to take care of you so that you can take care of everyone else.You’re worth it.