One thing that I was quick to learn: self-care for mothers can sometimes feel like a pipe dream. What took me years to figure out, however, is that taking time for myself is not an indulgence, but rather a necessity for my mental health. Also, it doesn't have to be fancy or expensive. Self-care can be simple; a commitment you make to yourself to fill your cup so you can continue to care for the ones you love the most (because you can't pull water from a dry well).
Life has never been busier for my little family than it is right now. My husband is currently working full-time and attending graduate school full-time, and I am working from home and caring for our three boys. Neither of us gets much time to ourselves (or together as a couple), but we take what we can get. For example, one night each week, my husband will take our sons to the local aquatic centre for a night of swimming, followed by ice cream. It's a special bonding time for them, and it affords me the opportunity to enjoy my favourite form of self-care — having the house all to myself!
For me, there is nothing better than having a quiet house all to myself. Because I am an introvert, I take my alone time seriously. I need that time to quiet my brain and recharge without constantly being asked, "Mom, where are my shoes?," or having to break up fights because one of my boys keeps making faces at his brother. The mental load of motherhood is real and causes many of us to have multiple tabs in our brain open at once, which can be exhausting. Then there is the noise that constantly seems to accompany children. My boys love to play a game called "Who can make the most annoying sound?," and that pretty much explains better than anything why I need to have a quiet house once in a while.
When I am fortunate enough to have a night (or longer) to myself, it affords me the opportunity to clean the house knowing it won't immediately become cluttered again, catch up on work, or read that novel I've been dying to dive into. Usually, I end up binge-watching Top Chef while soaking in a hot bubble bath because I would rather spend my break relaxing as opposed to being productive.
Sometimes I will venture out and visit my favourite vintage store or grab something decadent to eat, but I usually stay home — and I never feel guilty about it. My husband has been unapologetically taking fishing and camping trips throughout our almost 16 years of marriage, and he knows I need time to do what I enjoy as well. He is just as capable of caring for our children as I am (even though he sometimes does things differently than I would), so I don't worry about how things are going every minute they are away. We also do what we can to make time for our relationship by aiming to have a date night once a week. While it doesn't always happen, we try to make the effort, which I know counts. When we take time for ourselves and our relationship, it helps us to have more patience with our kids and appreciate parenthood more.
Moms, like everyone else, deserve to take time for self-care, but there is no right way to accomplish that. Some of us love to have ladies' nights or days at the spa. Some mothers enjoy a weekend away with friends (my friends and I have been trying to make this happen for years) or simply use the time to take a solo trip to Target. For me, self-care is as simple as enjoying a quiet night in a house that is normally brimming with activity to fill my cup and help me feel centreed.