Marissa Leffler. I am a wife and a mother to a beautiful baby boy. I am an avid animal lover, with an extreme affection for rescue dogs. I have a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology and a love for studying early childhood development. However, most of what I know I have thrown out the window since becoming a mom (haha). I have worked as a behaviour therapist for Autistic children and as a research coordinator. Running is my therapy, Country Music is my jam, my dogs make me happy, my family and friends mean everything to me, and my son makes my life complete.
Being a mother is the hardest and most rewarding job on the planet. It is a rollercoaster ride of emotions ranging from immense love to extreme exhaustion. It feels like you are needed emotionally and physically 24/7 without a moment to spare for yourself, and most days our love for our kids motivates us to persevere through the everyday stressors and fatigue but there are days when you feel completely drained.
Sacrifice and selflessness is a part of motherhood. We sacrifice our bodies, sleep, and neglect our own overall health for our children. How many of you have gone days without showering? Went a day without brushing your teeth? Stayed in the same clothes you wore the day before or even days before? Went a full day without eating a well-balanced meal? How about held your bladder for an extended period of time because your little one finally fell asleep in your arms and you wouldn’t dare put them down or move a muscle in fear they will wake?
Consider me guilty! After months of sleepless nights, unhealthy hygiene and eating habits, and shedding many tears due to complete exhaustion, I made a conscious decision to start taking care of myself, and time for myself. I felt like I was on the brink of a complete break down. If I did not start doing something for me then I could see myself spiraling into a dark place, and what good would I be to my son then!
A qualitative study found that there are two conflicting ideologies that women hold when it comes to self-care in motherhood. One being that self-care is of primary importance, and the other being that selflessness is synonymous with motherhood in which extreme forms of self-sacrificing are practiced (Barkin & Wisner, 2013). Out of guilt and/or society’s expectations, most mothers feel like they cannot take time for themselves because it is selfish. Let me say this once and for all, self-care is not selfish! Self-care needs to be viewed as a necessity because if you don’t keep yourself healthy then how can you care for your little ones, and let’s be honest, your spouse too. You have spent months, even years, putting your children’s needs first but every once in a while you need to make yourself priority numero uno.
I am a better mom when I take a little time for myself – shocking isn’t it! Before becoming a mom, I would work out and I loved to cook. These were a few of my favourite ways to decompress, and it made me feel energized, happy, and more capable to handle stressful situations. Yet, now I make up every excuse in the book to not do the little things for myself that make me happy, healthy, and ultimately, a better wife and mom.
So if you love your little ones as much as I know you do, take that time for yourself! Go for a walk or run. Go on that coffee date, or even better, wine date with your girlfriends you haven’t seen in months. Treat yourself to a mani/pedi or a new hair-do. Maybe join a mommy-baby group to meet other moms or better yet, join a mommy blogging group as an outlet to voice your own experiences. Even do something as simple as having a hot bath, sip of a hot coffee, and cherish a moment of silence – if that’s possible.
Barkin, J. L., & Wisner, K. L. (2013). The role of maternal self-care in new motherhood. Midwifery, 29(9), 1050-1055.