I’ve written before about the importance of seeking intentional solitude as a part of self care for mothers, but a weekend away is a rarity for most of us. In my day-to-day life, solitude usually happens in the car on the way to pick kids up from school or late at night when they’ve finally all made it to bed. Because I share custody, I do have regular time without my kids, but I’m also regularly parenting solo when they are with me—and this can be the time when I need self care the most. The pressure is on for me to work all day and then come home and be on and present with my kids after school, and there are definitely some days when I feel like I’m going to crack. Here are some things that help me be at my best for them:
1. Start off the morning with quiet.
Many mamas tout the benefits of quiet time in the mornings before their kids are up and at ‘em, but I, for one, am so not a morning person. I still make time for quiet in the mornings, though. After I drop my kids off at school, I head straight for my co-working space, grab a cup of coffee, and sit with a book or articles that serve no other purpose than to nourish me. I’m usually at the office by 8:00 A.M., so it gives me plenty of time to start my day off intentionally.
2. Blow off steam in the car.
I usually listen to the radio or podcasts in the car, but when I really need to let out some stress, I crank up the volume and even belt loud “whoos” to let it all out. Sometimes I overthink it and worry I might look like weirdo whooping and hollering in the car, but better out than in with that stress, right?
3. Sleep smarter––and harder.
I think just about every mom has a tumultuous relationship with sleep. Not enough of it, namely. I’m a bit of a night owl, and not a morning person, which equates to less sleep than I should probably get most of the time. I do indulge in cat naps when I can, though. And aside from making myself go to bed at a decent hour, there’s not a ton you can do about getting better/more sleep. Or that’s what I thought.
I’ve long heard of weighted blankets for calming anxiety, but it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to try one out myself that I realized how magical they were for getting better sleep. The purported benefits of weighted blankets include reducing cortisol (the main stress hormone) and encouraging the production of serotonin (a happy hormone).
Although I don’t always sleep with a weighted blanket, there’s a noticeable difference when I do. I usually wake up feeling more rested and relaxed. Weighted blankets are often likened to a giant hug and feel something like the apron you wear during an X-ray (depending on the weight of your blanket).
When I don’t feel like using a full weighted blanket when I sleep, I usually opt for a weighted eye mask. It has similar calming effects, without covering my entire body.
4. End the day on a high note.
Regardless of how busy or stressful my day with the kids has been, I try to make time for connecting with them before bedtime. This might be as simple as spending a few minutes asking about their day when I tuck my girls in, or talking to my teenager about what’s on his mind.
Most nights, I connect with my middle schooler through a game of cards. After he’s ready for bed, we’ll grab a deck and play a game of war or trash can. They’re not always super deep moments of connection, but they bring us together to reconnect at the end of every day. And that’s the thing that nourishes us all as mothers, isn’t it? Knowing that we have an unbreakable connection with our kids.