self-care for moms

Self-care for moms: Advice that won't make your eyes roll

Hey, moms:

Do you ever feel like your self-care needs fall to the backburner?

Does the mental load of motherhood feel like its own full-time job?

Does traditional self-care advice for moms make your eyes roll because it feels so unattainable?

You've come to the right place.

As a mom, it's easy to let your own needs fall by the wayside. You undoubtedly deserve—and need—time to recharge and take care of yourself, but traditional self-care advice can feel overwhelming or impossible to achieve.

That's where the Balance app's meditation expert Leah Santa-Cruz comes in. As a mom herself, she understands the unique challenges that moms face when it comes to taking care of themselves, and she's here to offer practical tips and advice that you can actually implement in your busy life.

Whether you have 5 minutes or even just a few seconds during one of your many responsibilities, her self-care strategies will help you prioritize your own well-being so that you can show up as the best version of yourself for your family.

The mental load of motherhood

Being a mom is rewarding, but it can also be tough, filled with challenges and unspoken burdens. One of these burdens is the "mental load," which is a term that's gained traction in recent years. It refers to the endless weight of responsibilities and tasks, typically carried by mothers, from scheduling family appointments to remembering school events and juggling daily household duties. While the tasks themselves may seem simple, the constant mental tallying and management are what truly take a toll on many moms.

According to recent surveys, an overwhelming majority of mothers feel that they bear the brunt of organizing their family's schedules and tasks. This intense responsibility often results in feelings of exhaustion and, ironically, leaves little to no time for genuine self-care.

It's a paradox; those who nurture and care for everyone else frequently neglect their own well-being. The cost of this neglect isn't just personal. When moms are overstressed and under-nurtured, it can ripple out, affecting their roles as parents, partners, and professionals.

Leah Santa-Cruz deeply understands this dilemma and talks about it in this brief video:

Leah's main takeaways are clear:

  1. Understand your mental load: List all the tasks you're responsible for, so you can see just how much is on your plate. This is not meant to overwhelm you but to help you understand what’s possible to delegate to others.
  2. Open-up communication: Speak with your partner or a supportive person in your life about your "mental load," and deliberately delegate ownership of certain tasks when possible.
  3. Establish boundaries: It's okay to say no or to delay tasks that can wait. Prioritize what truly needs your attention now and the big important stuff that needs to get done instead of the busy work.

Taking the time to acknowledge the "mental load" and enacting strategies to manage it is a crucial first step in caring for yourself.

Depleting vs. replenishing activities for moms

For many mothers, the phrase "free time" might feel like an oxymoron. Even after recognizing and grappling with the "mental load" of motherhood, many still find themselves wrestling with the elusive notion of time for themselves. A spare moment might pop up, but how it's spent can be the difference between feeling drained or invigorated.

Modern life, with its relentless notifications and the siren call of screens, often pulls us into passive activities like scrolling social media or binge-watching shows. While these things might offer temporary respite, they frequently leave us feeling more depleted than before.

So Leah reminds you that it's not just about carving out free time but making intentional choices about how to fill it. In her words, not all breaks are created equal, and a few minutes spent in genuine self-care can offer more rejuvenation than hours of mindless screen time.

To help you reclaim control of your time and use it beneficially, Leah proposes a step-by-step strategy:

  1. Do a time inventory: Document how you spend your hours, highlighting potential pockets of time that can be repurposed.
  2. Make a weekly priority list and scheduling habit: Prioritize and list tasks at the beginning of the week and enlist the support of your partner, family, or other trusted people in your life.
  3. Do some short and sweet self-care: Short bursts of intentional activities like stepping outside, meditating (more on that below!), or even just sipping a warm beverage can have a transformative impact on your mood and energy.

Understanding and intentionally managing your time can help you regain a sense of self, both within and beyond the role of motherhood.

The challenge this week? Take charge of your hours, find those pockets of time, and make them truly yours. Hear more from Leah about how to get started:

Confronting and overcoming mom guilt

Ah, mom guilt. It's a familiar sensation that haunts many mothers, casting doubts and causing second-guessing. From feeling regret over handing a child a tablet just for a moment of peace to the self-reproach for missing a school event, this nagging feeling of perpetual insufficiency seems all too common. But while it might be prevalent, Leah advocates that it's not inevitable.

At its core, mom guilt stems from an internalized belief of perpetual inadequacy. It's a voice that whispers, "you're never doing enough." But Leah counters this with a powerful message: Moms are doing their best, and that in itself is commendable and sufficient.

Leah also presents a methodical approach to conquering this guilt:

  • Spotting guilt triggers: Begin by identifying moments or situations that induce the mom-guilt feeling. Is it rooted in a belief that you're not spending enough time with your child, or perhaps in your choices on how you're raising them? Recognizing these triggers is the first step in addressing them.
  • Embracing a graceful mindset: Shift from self-criticism to self-compassion. Understand that self-care isn't selfish; it's essential, not just for individual well-being but for the whole family.
  • Delegating and trusting: Initiate conversations with your support system about your needs and apprehensions. Start by assigning small responsibilities and, as trust builds, gradually expand this circle of trust. It's essential to remember that seeking assistance isn't an admission of inadequacy; it's a sign of wisdom.
  • Valuing presence over duration: Instead of measuring time spent with kids in hours, prioritize moments of genuine engagement. Establish daily rituals and invest in quality moments, making them count.

Leah's message is clear in the next video: Mom guilt can be overcome, not by doing more but by reevaluating and reshaping your perception of what constitutes "enough."

Adapting self-love meditation for moms

Speaking of reshaping perceptions, it's time to reshape certain perceptions of meditation.

The word often sparks images of quiet rooms, crossed legs, and long periods of silence. But for many busy moms, this traditional image can feel distant and unattainable. But that's not what meditation has to look like.

In the Balance app and beyond, Leah champions meditation techniques that are feasible and flexible enough for even the busiest moms. She promotes the view that meditation is about being present, integrating moments of mindfulness into everyday life. and it can be as short or as long as the time you have available.

Instead of separating meditation from daily life, Leah suggests weaving it into routine activities. Whether it's feeling the sensations of warm water during a shower, savoring the joy of playing with your child, or simply taking a moment to deeply breathe while preparing meals, each of these can become a meditative moment. The focus is on being fully present, acknowledging feelings, and cultivating a sense of peace amidst the chaos.

The benefits of this reimagined approach to meditation are profound. Not only does it offer a peaceful pause between the stresses of daily life, it also boosts efficiency, empathy, and emotional well-being. By reducing stress, you can make better decisions, engage more deeply with your loved ones, and feel more present in every moment.

So once again, Leah's method is not about adding another task to an already overflowing to-do list, but rather, it's about enhancing the quality of the moments that already exist. In other words, it's about recognizing the potential for peace in everyday tasks and seizing them.

To make this more actionable, Leah issues you two challenges:

  1. Daily meditative moments: You're challenged to identify one daily activity and turn it into a short meditative moment. By doing so, you can start experiencing the transformative benefits of meditation without feeling overwhelmed.
  2. Share and support: Talk about your misconceptions and hesitations regarding meditation with another parent to create a supportive environment. Sharing experiences, challenges, and tips can foster a collective journey towards mindfulness.

Leah's approach to meditation is an invitation to you and all the busy moms out there to reimagine meditation—to see it not as another task but as a rewarding way to add depth and meaning to your life and relationships. 

Try self-love meditations for moms with Balance

If you're feeling inspired—and hopefully you are!—take action on that energy by downloading the Balance app on iOS or Android. The app is full of self-care guidance, sleep support, and so much more, with exercises that can be as quick as just a few minutes long. It's also completely free for your entire first year, giving you one less thing to stress about.

So, mom, do something nice for yourself and check out Balance today.

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