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How to Take Care of Yourself as a Mom

By Michelle LaRowe

"If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." As cliché as it sounds, there's actually some real credence to this old and familiar phrase. The truth is the care moms give their children often supersedes the care they give themselves. But the paradox here is that if you don't take care of yourself, you really can't take care of anyone else – especially your little ones who need you most.

With the business of motherhood it can be really difficult to meet your needs, your children's needs and your spouse's needs, in addition to juggling the demands of work and home. But taking care of yourself is essential. So how can you better take care of yourself when others are in need of being taken care of?

Prioritize your needs. There's a reason the flight attendant tells moms and dads to put on their own oxygen masks before assisting their children when preparing for takeoff. It's because moms and dads need oxygen so that they can help their kids get oxygen. If you know you can't function well until you've had your first cup of java, be sure you guzzle it down before you start tackling the demands of the day. If it's a morning shower that gets you going, be sure to squeeze it in before getting the baby out of her crib for the day. If your basic needs aren't met you're going to have a harder time (happily) meeting the needs of your children.

Let go of the guilt. Take the expectations you place on yourself down a notch. So what if the house is a little messier than you may like? Who cares if you haven't worn anything but black yoga pants out of the house in six months? Or maybe you planned on exclusively breastfeeding for the first year but it just isn't working out. Don't buy into the mom guilt or let how you feed your baby define your mothering experience (yes, The American Academy of Pediatrics and other experts agree on the benefits of breastfeeding but these experts also agree that infant formula is a safe, science-supported, nutritious means to nourish babies). And don't overspend to compensate for the feelings of guilt you might have about not breastfeeding. In the case of infant formula, Store Brand Formula, Like Walmart's Parent's Choice, is FDA regulated and can cost up to 50 percent less than the most expensive baby formula brands.

Set aside time for you. Set aside 15 minutes every day for self-care. You can use this time for anything that will help you feel taken care of whether that's bible study, meditation, going for a run or catching up with a friend. One of the easiest ways to ensure that you get time for yourself each day is to put the kids to bed at a reasonable hour, which for little ones means 7 pm. If the evening time doesn't work for you consider setting your alarm to get up 15 minutes or more before everyone else. If you're still feeling strapped for you time, switch off with your spouse for kid duty so you can head to Zumba or for coffee with a friend.

Schedule a date night. Ladies, now is the time to get out your calendar and put date night on the schedule – in pen. Take advantage of the grandparents' offer to watch the children or hire a trustworthy sitter for the night if it's in your budget. Remember, date night doesn't have to break the bank. Even if you toss a few sandwiches in a bag and eat them in the park, make it a priority to spend uninterrupted time together. Ensuring that you have time to care for your relationship is essential.

Parenting doesn't have to be a physically and emotionally draining experience – at least not every day. While all moms have those days they wish they didn't, if you're feeling like caring for your kids is a struggle every day, take a closer look at how you're caring for yourself. Step up your self-care and you may find your parenting feels like it steps up too.

About the Author

Michelle LaRowe is a mom, award-winning nanny and the author of several parenting books including Working Mom's 411 and Nanny to the Rescue! Michelle serves as the editor-in-chief of Longhorn Leads, parent company of where she shares parenting advice and empowers both parents and nannies to be the best caregivers they can be.

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