We’re moms. We don’t have a lot of extra time or bandwidth. So, if we’re…
I settled into motherhood fairly easily with my firstborn, Sofia. Thanks to a village of unconditional support from every grandparent and aunt and neighbor ready on standby to help, I had the space to fall in love with being a mom to my sweet daughter, continue working full time, and schedule date nights without formal childcare.
When I had my second daughter, however, our lives changed a lot. The grandparents weren’t as available as before because of health issues. My husband started his own practice and worked a lot more. And every day became a rushed cycle of mom, work, mom. Mom, work, mom.
Life felt crazy.
I would drop the girls off at daycare and then sit in the car to catch my breath. The guilt I felt for spending so much time away from them weighed heavily on my heart. So, it wasn’t all that after a while, I developed crippling anxiety.
I had dealt with bouts of depression and anxiety before, but this was different. I lost weight, had irrational fears, and struggled to function socially. I went to bed each night feeling like a failure because deep down I knew I wasn’t the mom I wanted to be. The mom I could be.
While I’d started therapy, I was still struggling. And one day, my husband suggested I check out a new yoga studio that opened near our house. I always loved yoga but hadn’t done it in years which he obviously knew. I battled the guilt of missing bedtime and signed up for a 7:30pm class.
That yoga class changed my life.
For one whole hour, I didn’t think about the dishes in the sink, what needed to be added to the grocery list, or if I actually switched the laundry to the dryer. It was the first time in a long time that I felt like I was Taryn. Not mommy. Not a wife. Not an employee. Just me.
I committed to taking weekly classes and I started to make real progress with my mental and emotional health. I felt happier, more confident, more in control, and less anxious. I enjoyed motherhood more.
Ironically the thing I was worried about most, taking time away from my kids, was exactly what I needed to be the mom I want to be. The mom they deserve.
I went on to get certified in both yoga and meditation. Because of all the many tools I explored to support my anxiety and depression, these were the most effective. And I wanted to share them.
The simple act of taking a breath has a profound impact on the nervous system as a whole. And through my practice, I was able to integrate both meditation and yoga into my daily life. As life got busier, I had the tools I needed to keep myself in balance.
This practice was so powerful, especially in October 2019.
Because while pregnant with my fourth daughter, I learned that she would be born with Down Syndrome, and that after delivery she would need open heart surgery.
It was a lot to take in. I had a lot of feelings. And I am so grateful that I had an arsenal of tools to help me handle the stress. The truth is, if I hadn’t done the hard work previously to manage my depression and anxiety and take care of myself, I may have fallen apart.
When I say taking care of myself, I’m not talking about hour-long Swedish massages or weekends away with “the girls”. While these things are amazing (duh), they’re not realistic to most of us as often as need care.
I consider self-care to be anything that promotes and supports your health and happiness. Simple things that can be incorporated into daily life. And if I’m being honest, my favorite thing is a hot cup of coffee with no interruptions. I enjoy every sip and I swear it tastes better!
Again, I’m open to massages and kid free vacations, but what I need to do is support myself. Take care of myself. Nurture myself where I am each day. Because the demands of being a mom of four, one with special needs, founder of a yoga studio, and founder of a platform that supports moms in the special needs community are A LOT!
Since I’m guessing you juggle a lot too, I want to share with you the less sexy, but way more meaningful ways I incorporate self-care into my daily life in case it helps you in yours.
Regular sleep routine.
I know. I know. You probably think this is some sort of sick joke. Still, this is more about the routine than the length of sleep. Just like we teach our kids, get into the habit of going to bed at the same time. Add some rituals that will help you wind down. Just like kids do well with repetitive things before bedtime, adults do too! Give yourself a foot massage with a relaxing lotion, turn on a guided meditation, or read for ten minutes before you turn the lights off. These simple practices will quiet down your mind so you can fall asleep faster and get higher quality sleep.
Another hard one with little ones, I get it! I have four of them! I promise this doesn’t have to be complicated or extravagant. Something as simple as getting up ten minutes early to enjoy your hot coffee in silence can start the day off on the right foot. There is something so peaceful and satisfying about doing literally anything before the rest of your family wakes up. The quiet of the morning, savoring your coffee, meditation, journaling, yoga, staring at the wall, whatever! Live your best life! Soon enough you will eagerly get out of bed early to start your day on your terms.
Spend time in nature
The human body and mind need fresh air and time in nature. The sights and sounds awaken senses that tend to be dulled in our modern world. Taking a short walk or even stepping outside and putting your feet in the grass can reset your nervous system. This is a powerful, straightforward way to bring you into the present moment and quiet the chatter in your mind.
Find a hobby
Bonus points for something that stimulates your body and your mind. Most importantly, find something you love. If you hate running but love lifting weights, don’t run! Lift heavy things instead! Listening to a podcast while you are folding laundry is a great way to expand your mindset and be productive. Start a book club that meets monthly. And don’t worry about actually reading the book. Schedule these things for you and show up for yourself! Make them non-negotiable in your life.
Start a gratitude journal
This is my personal favorite. Years ago, I committed to a gratitude practice and it changed the way I look at everything. Keep a notebook by your bed and jot down three things at the end of the night (or the start of the day!) that you are grateful for. I highly recommend being super specific. For example, instead of writing “I am grateful for my kids,” I write “I am grateful that I connected with my daughter when we talked over dinner.” When you can hone in on what you are truly grateful for, you start to find gratitude in any situation.
By creating and committing to these habits and rituals for yourself, you’ll naturally start to hold boundaries around your time and energy. There is nothing you can do for your family that is more important than taking care of yourself. Your physical, mental, and emotional health.
You got this, mama.
Looking for more ways to actually incorporate self-care into your daily life? Click here to download your FREE pstprtm Mama Moment Checklist. These are reminders to hydrate, move your body, and delegate! Real, actual, impactful prompts to care for yourself authentically.