Monday, January 18, 2016

Mama Self Care: A Formula For Happiness

Let me warn you a head of time - this post has a couple diagrams (gasp!) but I hope that it'll all make sense to you.

Last year I did something that I haven't done in over 5 years - I invested myself in new friendships. You see, going from being a mom of one very easy going daughter to the mom of two daughters - one of which is feisty, has a fire of her own and honestly I didn't know how to parent yet. My husband is an amazingly supportive father but as a stay at home mom I felt the pull to reach out to other moms. It was to not only create social interaction for my daughters but also give me the fellowship and support that I needed from other women too.

I grew a lot last year. I put myself out there and I can proudly say that I've made a handful of very close friends whom I will cherish for the rest of my life.

But there was something missing, at least for me. Even though I replenished my bucket through social needs, I wasn't feeding myself. Growing on this foundation this year I've got a new game plan, which became evident to me at my recent MOPs meeting about self care.

Being a mom is important work, as we all know. It's one of the most rewarding things that I will ever do, but it's also by far been the hardest. Some days I'd trade the crayons, laundry, diapers, nursing, songs, open schedule, tantrums and puddle stomping for a long day at the office working for "the man." Because at least at my old desk I'd have a cup of coffee in peace without running the risk of finding a surprise at the bottom.

The rewarding, satisfying days truly outweigh the days that I slump into my bed at night; exhausted physically and mentally. But the simple checks and balances of "what kind of day" it was doesn't equate in motherhood. Some great days are worth 5 bad days and other times they are worth 15 bad days, does that make sense? Some days one great day will equal one bad day. But what many mothers will admit, in the quiet comfort of their dear friend's company - sometimes I feel like I am putting out a lot more than I get back. And it's true; I think all mothers go through this phase. I am one of them.

So it becomes a good exercise to take account for what it is that drains us and what fuels us. The speaker at my MOPs meeting asked us to think of ourselves as a circle and to describe things that "fuel" us. For her it was horseback riding. She can go into her barn and spend hours there, forgetting about the world. When she emerges she feels refreshed. What are some things that you do just for you, that truly refuel you? Blogging, most of the time, fills that for me. In cases like today, where I get to write out my personal thoughts and work through something, I feel renewed. I feel the same way after a really great conversation with a friend. Or coloring. Hiking. Travel. Or hanging out in the backyard watching "chicken TV" (just watching my chickens do their silly thing).

Then she asked us to think about all the things that we put out that drain us. Lord, I hate doing the laundry. I hate tidying up the house. I hate going through all of our bills and calling up whatever company overcharged us that month because it inevitably means I'm going to be put on hold for forever and bounced around to whatever department can help me - all during my toddler's nap time when I am hyper aware of every noise in the house (including my own) because God help me - that little girl needs her nap every day. I do not enjoy the process of teaching my pre-schooler the importance of eating her dinner lest she wakes me up at 3am asking for a string cheese because she went to sleep hungry. But those are things that we have to do. It's adulting. But it wears on us because it's parts of ourselves that we are putting out, and often times we do not have an equal amount going back in to fuel us.

This can change on a daily basis, there are many days where I am able to fuel myself to recover for how much I put out. Sometimes, it's a matter of looking at it over a season. This past year - I was definitely putting out more than I was putting back into myself. And part of that is the cost of having children that are 24 months apart. Penny, my older daughter, became a three-nager and as mentioned before - my Ruby .... well, my Ruby has always had a spirit of her own and she made sure to establish that very early in life. Over a period of a few months it felt like I was treading water; getting enough food, barely enough sleep, drinking coffee to make up for it and finding ways that I can cope. I didn't have postpartum depression but it was definitely a task of finding a way to find a new normal.

So when this diagram was presented to me, a light bulb went off. That's what has been going on all this time. I had very effectively created a mama tribe of support, many of whom were available literally at all hours (thanks Facebook messenger), but what I really needed to take account for was my formula for happiness.

The speaker showed us another diagram of how to begin brainstorming ways to fuel ourselves. To keep it brief, people have four areas of basic need. Biological, psychological, social and spiritual. She encouraged us to come up with 5 ways we fuel ourselves (to make up for all the ways we put out) for each of the categories. This way when we take account for the imbalance on a daily, weekly or seasonal basis, we have a list of things to draw upon to help make ourselves feel more in balance.

Examples of fueling yourself:
///Biologically: eating, showering (it's amazing how therapeutic a good hot shower can be!), exercise
///Socially: date nights, play dates, taking a class
///Psychologically: counseling, book reading, journaling, meditation
///Spiritually: worship, bible study, meditation

There's an amazing amount of cross over for these groups as well. For me, Jesus permeates into each one of these categories. Meditation crosses over on several categories and I personally think that showering hits at least 2, sometimes 3, categories.

These concepts are going to drive my formula for happiness of self care for this year. Because a happy, healthy mama is a great mama, right?

How will you self care this year?
Did either of the diagrams help you?
Today's post has been sponsored by Gerber Good Start Formula. Each mama has her own journey of how she chooses to feed her baby and I'm excited to share about this ground breaking development from Gerber formula - Good Start is completely GMO free. Since becoming a parent myself, I have spent a lot of time making sure that the foods I feed my family are the best that we can afford. Not everything that we eat or drink is organic or non-GMO, but I do make sure to hit the important ones according to the Dirty Dozen list. Research shows that parents prefer foods made from non-GMO ingredients which is why Gerber not only make one single formula that is non-GMO, they made the whole line of Good Start formulas non-GMO to encourage consistent nutrition as your baby grows.


  1. Becoming a. Very recent SAHM with a baby due anyday I will keep this in mind to help myself be the best mom, wife and me I can. Gives me hope that I CAN do this and be better for it. Thank you

  2. I like this idea of the four aspects. There is so much crossover between those four planes, and imbalance in one can affect the others. And as mother's, almost everything we do affects others in our lives/household.

  3. This is a very inspirational post, thank you! I have been a SAHM for about 5 years now and have a 7, 3, and 1 year old. I really don't have any friends other than my husband and have made it a personal goal to make some this year! It can definitely be extremely lonely being a SAHM sometimes.

  4. This is so important!! I often get lost in putting out and not remembering to take anything back in!! Its scary how easy that is to do!! Thank you for reminding me <3

  5. This post is such a great reminder. It seems easy and common for moms to put their needs at the end of the list.

  6. Becoming well-balanced can be a life-long journey. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Good stuff! I especially need to work in the social aspect. I am an introvert and we just moved, so we don't have a church family yet.

  8. It's so hard to remember to take care of yourself when you are meeting the needs of your entire family.



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