For a season in my life I was over committed… to everything.

That season looked like this: We were in ALL the activities for ALL the good causes; I was on the steering team for my MOPS group, working in the classroom, serving on the church set up team, running the church nursery, and volunteering with the PTA.

From the outside, it seemed as though I had it all together. It seemed like I was doing it all.
In fact, people would say things to me like, “I just don’t know how you do it all!”

Truth be told… I wasn’t really doing it all.

From the inside out,  you’d have witnessed a very different perspective on my volunteering madness.  My many commitments were stealing from my very purpose. My rigorous volunteer schedule was taking precious time and attention from what really mattered — my most precious relationships and my self-health.

I was missing… sweet bedtime snuggles with my son, seeing soap bubbles tickle his toddler face in the tub, and daily observations of my firstborn’s admirable perseverance to become a “big boy.”

I was also missing my own rest, peace, and joy.

I was rushing through everything of my “innermost” life, so I could accomplish those “outside” commitments.

Then God called me out.

I quit everything.

EV.ERY.THING.

I went rogue.

No volunteering, no serving, and no social media.

During this season without commitments, I learned several things. One of my favorite mantras emerged, which I still use when life starts to go off the rails.  It goes like this:

God is first.
I am second.
My people are 3rd.
Everything/Everyone else comes after the prior needs are met.

I admit I’m not great at following this mantra and I have to consciously choose to keep these priorities in order. I know I am supposed to keep God first, but taking care of myself, second, is very difficult for me. I assume many mothers have the same problem. I have a tendency to put my kids and husband before me in line.

But, just as you’re told to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others on an airplane… moms need their own oxygen supply before they’re able to breathe life into others.  This kind of self-care ends up serving others.

In this season of calm, still, and reflection, I came up with 6 areas I have to focus on in order take the best care of myself.

Self Care for Moms:

Spiritually — If I don’t feed myself spiritually, I will not have the spiritual resources necessary to share with others. This is why I read the Bible or do a Bible study and pray daily, during my “quiet time.” (I’m pretty hardcore about my quiet time… there are rules around it… the kids know not to interrupt mom. It’s serious business… you may snuggle, but you may not speak.)

Physically — If I become sick, I am not much use to my people. Don’t even get me started on what it looks like when my husband is sick instead of me… that’s a whole different issue. So, I’ve imposed some self-care habits for my health, I try to eat well and go to the gym 3 times a week (it keeps me sane and they have great childcare). It really doesn’t matter what you do or when you do it… just do it. Genesis 1 tells us everything God made was good. That includes our bodies! Whether you like your shape or not, your body is a gift from God. It is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139: 13 – 16) It is a temple of the Holy Spirit through which we honor God. (l Corinthians 6:19 – 20)

Intellectually – I love reading.  Dedicated reading is not for everyone, but it’s still important to be putting new information in your head. I want to be a lifelong learner, I want to know what’s going on in the world and I want to be well-read enough to have an educated opinion.

Emotionally – If I don’t make the effort to work through my emotional junk, I end up a hot mess. In different different seasons of life and marriage, I have used counseling. I am a firm believer in seeking help through counseling and therapy. Get emotionally healthy, so you can be a healthy example for your kids.

Philippians 4:1 – 9 is packed with practical principles for emotional health. God knows we struggle, and He hasn’t left us without divine resources. Here’s a brief list of ways to improve your emotional health;
REJOICE in the Lord always. Don’t focus on the problem, but on the Problem Solver.
PRAY and thank Him for His power to work in you and through you.
THINK about what is true (not your fears or assumptions), and focus on what is right, pure, lovely, excellent, and praiseworthy.
CULTIVATE CONTENTMENT by rejecting words and attitudes of discontent.
COUNT on God to give you the strength you need to do what He calls you to do.

Rest – If I don’t get sufficient rest, I turn into in the dragon lady. No one enjoys that. To prevent “DL” from emerging… I go to bed early and try my “darndest” to get a solid 8 hours. I might not know what’s going on with the housewives or the bachelors, but I know I’m a better wife/mom when I get my rest.  Guys, second only to Jesus… I am fairly certain this is the most important thing!

Schedule – This is a big one for us… again, we have some rules or guidelines around it. We do not let any child be the sole focus or mini-god in our family. Each child is allowed one activity a season. I now guard my schedule diligently and strive to be intentional with my time and commitments. In order to prevent overloading yourself with commitments, it’s important to decide in advance how many projects, committees, nights out, etc., are healthy for you and your family.

It’s so natural for us as Christians/women/mothers to put ourselves at the bottom of the priority list, but it’s wrong.  And, in some twisted way… it’s selfish. We are in a much better position to serve, take care of and love our family, spouse and career when we’ve taken care of ourselves and we are healthy.

Right here, right now… I give you permission to take care of yourself and not feel guilty about it.

Questions:
1) How can I take better care of myself in 3 different ways?
2) How will taking better self-care affect my people?
3) Which of the 5 areas do I need to focus on most? (physical, intellectual, emotional, rest, schedule)
4) Are there some things I need to “quit” or give up? guilt?
5) What is your current view of yourself?
6) Where do you look for your sense of identity?

 

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Christen is the wife to one (he is the coolest engineer you will ever meet) and a mother to four… (one from her teen pregnancy, one with epilepsy, one with SPED needs, and the fourth may or may not be related to the Hulk.) She is a recovering “perfect wife/mom,” up to her eyeballs in all things motherhood. She doesn't have a Pinteresting life, she doesn’t cut sandwiches into dolphins, she doesn’t have a perfect marriage and she regularly shares all this good/bad/ugly with her sweet readers over at christenspratt.com. She is passionate about authenticity and breaking down the FaKebook walls. Christen frequently writes about the FaKebook phenomena, parenting, marriage, and faith while keeping a canny sense of humor.

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