It’s my job to take care of everyone else.
I shouldn’t need help.
I should be able to take care of my baby by myself.
If I say “no,” that’s selfish.
They’ll be disappointed in me if I refuse.
If there’s time leftover for me, then I’ll take it.
Even if only one of these statements rings a bell for you, you probably put others’ needs and wants ahead of yours, most likely at your own expense. You know how the flight attendant instructs you to place the oxygen mask over your own nose and mouth first? That’s because, if you’re not filled up first, you’re no good to anyone else. As many of you already know (you know who you are), if you try to give to others when you’re depleted, you’ll end up resentful, angry and burned out. And that, of course, hurts you and everyone around you. So, enough of the old, self-sacrificing garbage and on with the healthy stuff! Tips to start:
* Even for moms with fresh buns out of the oven, nighttime sleep is not a luxury – it’s a medical necessity. There are effective ways to split the night baby care with another adult (yes, even if you’re nursing) so you get some uninterrupted hours of sleep and keep your brain chemistry even. If you’re not needed to be on duty with a baby at night, take full advantage! Humans need 8.4 hours of uninterrupted sleep to function at their best. Nighttime is for sleeping, so don’t do house chores or anything else which cuts into your sleep time. Let the laundry pile up, allow the dust to settle, and order healthful take-out to decrease kitchen duties. Even watching TV or another activity to help you relax should be done earlier in the evening – not when you should be sleeping. Relaxing “down time” should be sprinkled throughout your week during the day or early evening.
* Whether you’re working full time outside the home or you’re a stay-at-home mother or anywhere in between, you need regular breaks scheduled throughout the week. For instance, every Monday and Wednesday from 5-7pm plus Saturday morning from 10am to noon. Knowing when your next break is (because it’s in your calendar) will save you from biting someone’s head off – your toddler, partner, or co-worker.