The number one reason I delayed having a child is because I still felt like a child myself. Even now, I struggle with adulthood — buckling down and doing the things I don’t like to do but need to do is a huge struggle.
This past week I sat at my computer for a whole day itemizing all my business expenses for my taxes and hating every second of it. I wish I had done it little by little each week over the past year.
Even self care can be difficult at times. I know I need to plan healthy meals, make time to exercise, get my hair cut, clean my house. Instead I become absorbed with the things that seem more urgent. Perhaps this is what makes me a good business owner — my desire to take care of my clients usually takes precendence over my own needs. Before I became a mom, this tendency would usually balance itself out. I would have slow seasons of work or take family trips or vacations to de-stress.
After my daughter was born, before I even began taking on much work, I found out how much of a struggle it would be for me to take care of myself. I became hyper-focused on her needs and not my own. Then, before I really allowed myself time to recoup, I started working again. Wedding season waits for no one when you’re a wedding photographer. I took on much less work than I had before, but it still seemed to be a monumental task.
Looking back on those first few months of working and being a new mom, I realized that every opportunity I had to take care of myself — get my nails done, get a haircut, exercise, go to the beach — was spent working. Working helped me feel more like myself; I loved the opportunity to be back in the space I knew, since motherhood didn’t come naturally to me (or so it felt, my hormones were playing games with my head), but my soul was suffering.
After I realized that I was experiencing some serious postpartum anxiety, I tried to find ways to take better care of myself, but it’s been a long journey. My anxiety has subsided tremendously, but I still have hard days. What I’m discovering as a mom is that taking care of myself has to come first. This is very tough to do. My child’s needs, my husband’s needs, my clients needs — those are the ones that I feel so very desperate to meet.
What I am coming to realize is, if I am a mess, I’m not giving anything good to anyone else. If I’m up late working on a project, I’m tired and stressed out with my family the next morning. If I don’t make time to exercise during my work day I will end up with insomnia that night.
For me, self-care looks like a lot of different things, but most of all, I have to stay in touch with what’s going on in my heart. Some days self-care can look like asking for extra help. It can mean asking my husband to shift his work hours so I can go to the gym in the morning. It can be allowing myself the grace to buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store for dinner instead of trying to cook something from scratch. I cannot be all things to everyone, but I really try to, and it doesn’t serve anyone well.
I’m still working on this. What helps is the encouragement from my friends who tell me I deserve a break. I find that I don’t allow myself enough of that grace!
I love that this conversation continues with the other moms in this Real Moms Series; I’m looking forward to reading their thoughts on this.
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I would also love to hear from you, even if you’re not a mom — what do you do to prioritize taking care of yourself? What’s the best thing you do for your soul?