One thing I wasn’t prepared for when I became a mother is how draining the gig is. No matter if you’re a young mom, working mom, stay at home mom or any other kind of mom, one thing we all can agree on is: the job can wear you down if you’re not careful. I’ve resolved to better take care of myself! Believe me, I’ve tried it the other way, where I neglected myself, it was bad for everyone…
Since becoming a mom, I’ve also fought off waves of anxiety and/or depression. When sleep decreased and stress increases my mental health suffers (I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this). There is nothing I hate more than the stain of sadness or anxiety taking joy from my otherwise pretty great life.
This has led my resolve to do more to care for me. I don’t want to miss the good stuff. I’ve come to discover that investing in small creative projects, is a great way to recharge and keep my mind more consistently in a healthy place.
Here’s the deal, I’m not really a creative person and no I don’t have much free time. I’m also not really great at any of these things. They are just tiny pauses in the hustle, I’ve slowly added into my routine. I don’t work at them because I am great at them. I do them because they help me find a sense of self, a sense of accomplishment and a chance to just do something for the heck of it (when most the rest of the time I feel like I’m only ever working on checking things off my ever-growing to-do list).
Here is a short list of ideas to get you started.
A great friend told me, when I was crying my eyes out because motherhood and marriage had kicked my butt that week, that just doing one thing different in a day can help combat depression in your life! If you are feeling overwhelmed, take one baby step towards health by picking one thing to do for yourself!
Learn to knit or crochet Younger me attempted both of these things and only felt total disdain for both activities. Older, hustling me, finds that the monotonous, yet productive nature of these activities help soothe my busy brain! Sometimes just sitting down to watch TV or relax isn’t enough to turn down my mind but when I add crochet to my lap, I soon find my mind clearing and focusing on the task at hand. So far I have made nothing that I could pass as a real usable item but I’m hooked and hope one day I’ll make a less crooked blanket for someone’s baby.
Exercise-Since becoming a Mom, exercise has been fundamental in keeping me (mostly) sane. I wish I could say that I have the shape or muscles to prove it but for me exercise is less about being a certain shape and more about working off some of the stress that builds up in my body over the course of a week. There are so many great gyms that offer relatively cheap childcare (I bring my kids to the gym several times a week and they are used to it, so they don’t complain too much). There are online streaming options, You Tube videos and if all of that is out of the question spring is coming so you could always just go outside and walk or bike! When I have a free hour or half hour I go to the gym. That usually means I go three to four times a week but those 20 minutes on the stair climber have saved me during some of my harder seasons.
Cook- This is one thing that you don’t even have to leave your house to do! You don’t even need a big budget to cook and food is always needed in your home. Two years ago my husband and I did our first Whole 30 and something about the experience really sparked an interest in my for cooking. Since then whenever we have a slow day at home or I’ve feeling restless I take 20 minutes and try my hand at making something new. I’ve failed miserably SO MANY times (bread is so hard to make) but when I make something good I feel genuinely proud of myself. As a stay at home Mom I’ve found that feeling of being proud of myself, can be hard to come by. Try baking or cooking something new and everyone will love it!
Read- The library is one of my favorite places in the whole world! I don’t even have time to browse the shelves. I literally check out 4-5 random books that are the closest to the kid section with appealing covers, I take them home and start them all with hopes one catches my attention. Surprisingly, this method typically works! Reading is a great way to learn more about our world, in a less depressing way than watching the news. For me it helps me get to bed faster and when my anxiety flares it keeps my mind from spiraling at bedtime (my worst time of day). It also sets a great example for your kids and gives you something to talk about in your life other than your kids. Give the library a go, it’s free and full of great stuff!
Write/Start a Blog- Not everyone is a writer but if you have an itch for it, it’s your time to shine. I’m by no means a great writer and can sometimes go months without a single noteworthy thought to write about but keeping up a blog has given me a chance to process and share some of this mothering gig. You don’t have to be great to do it! You just have to be brave and if you have an idea, share it. You are the only you in the whole world and the chances are someone, somewhere may need to hear your truth. Don’t underestimate your chance to encourage others with words. It’s a simple way to think outside your day-to-day and connect with the greater community around you! Bonus, if you stick with it, it can become a side hustle. By chance I’ve made little bits of money writing here and there (and remember I’m not even very good at it).
Hope these ideas inspire you to take care of you. You deserve a chance to create and most definitely deserve the chance to have joy amidst the crazy!
Originally published here.