Being a wife and mother is a busy occupation all year round, and it’s extra hectic at holiday time.
However and whatever you celebrate in December, there’s added pressure at this time of year: decorating for Hanukkah, baking for Christmas, and running around to buy gifts for family, friends and extended family. If you also have a career outside the home, the list of tasks and errands gets even longer, with fewer hours in the day to accomplish them. The last item on the list is usually YOU.
But it’s important to have a list item for yourself, or you’ll quickly suffer from feelings of burnout, and the care you provide to others will also suffer. That’s why looking after yourself is the best Christmas gift a woman can give herself and her family.
Why It’s Important To Find Time For Yourself
The term “self care” refers to the “practice of caring for one’s own health, well-being and happiness.” While it can feel indulgent or selfish to put yourself first even once in a while, self care is an essential component of stress relief and wellness. It can help decrease feelings of exhaustion, burnout, stress and even depression that busy mothers often feel.1
In particular if you are feeling signs of burnout, self care is one component of dealing with this condition before it becomes too serious.
It’s easy to feel guilty about taking a break from your family, but in fact it can re-energize you when you are with your kids.2 After all, raising children is an important job, and you can do the job better when you look after yourself. That’s because looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally makes you better able to give your children what they need to grow and thrive.3
Here are some gifts of self care you can give yourself during the holiday season, and all year round, which in turn is a gift to your family.
Do Something for Yourself Each Week
It’s easy to look after everyone before tending to your own needs. But it’s more important than ever that you look after yourself during this busy holiday season.
One author suggests taking one day off from being a mom each month, not to run errands, but to have a day to yourself.2 If you can’t manage that during the holiday season, then book an appointment in your calendar for an hour alone once a week. Take time to do what you enjoy, whether that’s to read a good book, have a relaxing hot bath, or reflect in your gratitude journal.
We all have different definitions of what constitutes healthy self-care—whether that’s exercise, meditating, or gathering with friends. Some experts suggest finding a mix of activities that leaves you “feeling balanced, happy, and fulfilled.” And your social life counts as self-care, too.4
Many of us like to believe we can manage everything on our own. But we need to learn to delegate and ask for help. Like the saying goes: “it takes a village to raise a family.”
So ask that village for help, whether that’s your spouse, mother or neighbor. And don’t be afraid to say no to commitments if you don’t have time or you’re not really interested in attending. 1
Look After Your Relationship
Once spouses or partners become parents, the relationship can change. There are challenges like less sleep, less time together, and less time to talk things out. This can lead to distance or even disagreements. Keep your relationship positive by practicing open communication to share feelings and find ways to support each other.3
It’s also important to find time on a regular basis when you can be alone without the kids. It doesn’t have to be a date night out every week. How about asking mom to sit with the children while you go for a long walk together? Plan some different activities that you enjoy doing together. Keeping your relationship strong is a gift to you and your family.
Book Your Doctor’s Appointment
It’s easy when you’re looking after a busy family to put off booking your annual doctor’s appointment. Now’s the time to book your doctor, and make any other health care appointments such as the dentist, or appointments for your family.
It’s also an opportunity to give the gift of health to someone you know, by offering to take a loved one to the doctor, or looking after a friend’s children so they can see the doctor.
If you don’t have a doctor, use our Physician Finder to find one near you. And if you’re more than a little sad or you’re sensing signs of burnout, don’t suffer in silence. Seek help, for your sake and the sake of your family.