Moms, resolve to take care of yourselves this year

I’ve been reading a lot over the past few days about New Year’s resolutions for moms: how moms can aim to be more present and patient with their children, for example, or how they can learn to rely less on technology. Many of the articles making their way around the mom blog-iverse are focusing on how moms can change their behaviors to better meet their children’s needs. What I don’t see—and this is true not just at this time of year, but all year long—are pieces about how moms can learn to take better care of themselves.

So this new year, I offer the following as a potential resolution for my readers: focus on self-care.

I’ve been talking with some of my mom patients about this over the past few days. Many of them are uncomfortable making self-care resolutions. After all, they argue, shouldn’t they be focusing on their kids, and resolving to be better parents?

With some pushing, I got them to think about things they might do to prioritize themselves. Here’s a sample:

  1. Get a babysitter one night a month to allow for a “date night” with my partner
  2. Give myself permission to occasionally say “no” to a call for PTO volunteers if I really don’t want to volunteer
  3. Carve out 10 minutes each day for mindfulness practice
  4. Delegate school lunch-making responsibility to my partner
  5. Prioritize getting to therapy every week

These moms aren’t resolving to do anything lavish or indulgent. No one is planning to take month-long solo trips to Bora Bora or go on Kardashian-style shopping sprees. Instead, they’re aiming to make small changes that will have a big impact on their ability to handle daily stress. Simple self-care practices can help a mom refill her tank, so to speak, so that she has ample stores of energy and patience for facing the next parenting challenge.

Also note that there is no mention of “mani-pedis” on this list. I love that people are now acknowledging that there’s a lot more to taking care of yourself than getting your nails done. As you can see from the sample resolutions above, self-care is about getting a true break when you need it and focusing on things that will replenish your body (like exercise) and mind (like mindfulness practice or therapy).

A mom who occasionally devotes some time and energy to herself is better equipped to be more present with her children, to take her children’s meltdowns in stride and to stop relying on her phone as her one connection to the outside world. As far as I’m concerned, a mother who isn’t taking care of herself will never be able to make good on the parenting resolutions that all those articles are recommending.

Moms, if you’re resolving to be more patient with your kids, resolve to be kinder to yourselves as well. Pair each of your kid-focused resolutions with a self-focused one. Make yourself one of your priorities this year, and I promise, you will be a calmer, more effective parent for it.

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I’m Ilyse Dobrow DiMarco, Ph.D., aka DrCBTMom. DrCBTMom.com combines the expert advice of a self-help book with the warmth and readability of a mommy blog.
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