Motherhood is hard- there’s no doubt about it. And while many moms likely make it through their day in a haze, running on no sleep, bites of food, and constantly in a state of stress- I’m sorry to tell you, this is not sustainable.

Unfortunately, this tendency for moms to put themselves last is a pretty popular one, with 78% of moms reporting they put off taking care of themselves because they are caught up taking care of their family. This statistic comes from a survey carried out by Healthy Women and Working Mother.

When asked to place their priorities in order, the same moms ranked kids, then pets, older relatives, spouses or significant others, and then lastly, themselves.

Another survey found that mothers and fathers only average around 32 minutes of their time each day, which might even seem high to some. But, with less than half an hour to provide self-care, it leads us to question, where is the time to take care of yourself?

And while it may be a hard pill to swallow- kids pick up on stress, they pick up on when you are running on nothing, and they can sense your overall sense of self. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, no one else is going to, and if you are suffering, it’s likely that eventually your kids will as well.

It can be hard- waking up, fixing food for your kids, getting them bathed and ready for the day, then dressing them, squeezing in playtime, back to more meals, rinse, repeat, etc., it’s no wonder moms put themselves last. It’s hard to squeeze in that time. However, it’s necessary.

“Self-care is a necessity, not an indulgence,” says Emma Bennett, LCSW, who works with new mothers. “We need to nurture ourselves just like we nurture our children. If we don’t take care of ourselves, feelings of depletion, resentment, and isolation could potentially arise. I feel more centered and present after taking time to engage in self-care, and strongly believe in building it into my daily agenda.”

Perhaps the most important part of what she says is squeezing it in. Self-care doesn’t mean going to the spa each day or eating perfectly prepared meals. It doesn’t mean going to the gym for hours, or tediously tending to every facet of perfection. Instead, it means making sleep an important part of your routine and getting enough of it. It means making healthier choices when choosing what to eat. It means taking a few minutes to calm down and gather yourself when you feel like you are going to explode.

Honestly, it means determining what you have to do to maintain and keep going and to live a sustainable life. Self-care is a parent doesn’t make you a bad mother, it makes you a good one. Self-neglect isn’t necessary or even useful for anyone.

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