Hey, Mama: Are you listening to your body?

“Mama! I did it! I pooped!” My 4-year-old crowed as I wiped his bottom. “I listened to my body!”

“Yes, you did, honey! I’m proud of you.” I smiled, not only because he was so proud but because he was echoing the words I had been repeating to him during the marathon that is potty-training.

“Your body will tell you when you need to go. Don’t ignore it! Listen to your body.”

I give my kids good advice, but I am constantly forgetting to follow it myself.

Just earlier this week, I was at the YMCA and I had to go to the bathroom after my yoga class ended. The single stall bathroom was being used and I didn’t want to wait.
The class ran late.
I had to pick up the kids from the childcare.
It was already 11am and I had to go to Lowes to pick up some paint before Aaron got home at noon.

So I ignored my body.

I continued to ignore my body throughout the errand, and then again when we got home.
My bladder said, “Hello! I am still waiting!” but I made the kids lunch because they were literally falling to pieces.
I visited with my husband while I ate some soup.
Then I changed Eli, got him a bottle and laid him down for his nap.
Next came Silas’ time: We read 2 books, and I laid him down for his nap.

Finally, I got a chance to listen to my screaming bladder: “OY! YOU! PAY ATTENTION!”
It was now 1:00, TWO HOURS since I first needed to pee.
I do this all the time to myself.

I realize it is 4:00pm and I have drunk 0 glasses of water all day even though I have given the kids 4 cups of water each before noon.

I wonder why I have a headache and am beyond grouchy and realize that I’ve skipped the 10:30am snack that I need to keep me sane and a relatively nice person to my kids.

I can’t keep my eyes open but I push myself to do one more load of laundry, to load the dishwasher, to email those 3 people, to do more, because the kids are napping and when else am I going to get stuff done?

I promise myself that I will go to bed earlier tonight…and then I stay up till 11:30pm again.

Self-care is tough for moms: We are so busy meeting the immediate needs of our families that we create the habit of putting off our own needs till later.

Sometimes that works…but lately, I’ve been asking myself, “At what cost?”

Sure, I’d love to eat lunch in peace without having to get up a thousand times to peel and orange, open a cheese stick, pick up a dropped spoon (again), and deal with tired, whiney kids.

I’d love my soup to be hot instead of lukewarm once in a while.

But food is my friend and if I don’t eat in a timely manner, I turn into Raging Mama, yelling at everyone to JUST GO TO BED. I am short, snappy, and surly, and I deny stories and snuggles.

To be the mom I want to be, I have to eat.

To be the mom I want to be, I have to take care of myself.

I’ve been working on Self-Care in 2016 and I’m trying to be even more mindful in 2017, mostly because I’ve realized that if I don’t take care of myself, I feel like crap.

If I don’t drink enough water and take my probiotics every day, my digestive system gets all jacked up. Let’s face it: Constipation is not sexy.

If I don’t snack and eat regular meals, I am angry, mean and shaky.

If I don’t take Tylenol when I have a pressure headache, it turns into a migraine, and I am useless for the rest of the day.

If I don’t rest when I’m tired, I can’t keep up with my big boys when they come home from school.

If I don’t do yoga on a regular basis (twice a week is my goal), my back starts hurting again, that familiar tension that comes from daily anxieties and stress.

If I don’t schedule weekly time with friends, I get sad and lonely and talk my introverted husband’s ear off when he gets home from work.

Self-Care—taking care of what I specifically need to feel whole and healthy—is so important.

I’m the grown up here. If I don’t take care of me, no one else is going to (my husband is good at reminding me to care for myself but he can’t do it for me).

Plus, if I am going to be a healthy, cheerful, relatively sane mom (let’s just be realistic here) to my kids, I need to stop ignoring my needs. I need to listen to my body and take care of myself…

…one glass of water, one lukewarm lunch, one bathroom break at a time.

What is one thing you can do today—right now!—to take care of yourself?
Share your action plan below or on Facebook!

PS. 7 Signs that you are doing too much (and what to do about it)
When you can’t do it all, ask for help Practicing self-care when you feel like crap