Friday, September, 29,2023

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The days are long, but the years are short. This is one adage that summarises parenthood quite simply! I am not here to debate, nor do I think there is anything wrong with mothers being primary caregivers in a child’s life. In fact, motherhood is a beautiful and fulfilling experience. The problem arises when we fail to recognise that behind the facade of beauty comes a fair share of challenges and responsibilities.

So while the dads come back from the office, kick off their shoes and relax – where does the mom go to get her downtime? In my experience, it is mostly the bathroom, where mums lock themselves up to ‘relive’ themselves! Pun intended! But funny as it may sound, amidst the joy and chaos, it is essential for mothers to prioritize their mental wellness through self-care, well beyond the extra-long bathroom breaks.

Taking care of one's mental health not only benefits the mother but also positively impacts her children and family. The importance of self-care for mothers cannot be overstated. Call it societal pressure, generational trauma, or the impact of social media – the end result is that motherhood often involves putting the needs of children and family before one's own. However, neglecting self-care can lead to emotional exhaustion, burnout, and a decline in mental well-being. It is crucial for mothers to recognize that their mental health matters and that self-care is not selfish but necessary for their overall wellbeing. When mothers prioritize self-care, they are better equipped to handle the daily challenges of parenting and are more emotionally available for their children. There are practical self-care strategies that I would like to share, and implore you to implement in your life on priority:

Setting boundaries helps mothers maintain a balance between their personal needs and the demands of motherhood. This includes learning to say no, delegating tasks, and carving out personal time. You cannot do it all. So if the child gets some extra TV time on one day, or misses out on school one day because you went out of town on a Yoga retreat over a weekend... it's OK!

Allocating regular time for activities that bring joy and relaxation is vital. Whether it’s reading a book, going to Zumba classes with friends, engaging in a hobby, or simply taking a walk in the park - dedicating time for oneself allows mothers to recharge and rejuvenate. During the ongoing vacations, I just put my daughter in a Summer Camp much against her wishes, and took the 2 hours she was gone to have my own mini vacations!

Building a support network is crucial for maternal mental well-being. Connecting with other mothers, joining support groups, or seeking therapy provides an outlet for sharing experiences, seeking guidance, and fostering social connections that combat isolation and loneliness. With growing nuclear family setups, don’t shut yourself off. Join communities, initiate play dates or pick up the phone and call a friend!

Adequate sleep is essential for mental and physical health. My dark circles are a testament to this. Mothers should strive to establish healthy sleep routines, take short breaks when needed, and seek support from partners, family members, or friends to ensure they get sufficient rest. I could not manage this for the longest time, till I put my foot down and sent my husband and dog out of my sleep equation. I now wake up better rested and happier.

It's important for mothers to recognize when they need professional support. If feelings of anxiety, depression, or overwhelm persist, seeking therapy or counselling can be immensely helpful in managing mental health challenges. I am the first to admit this. Therapy has helped me calm my frayed nerves and realise that my child is just being a child, and I am the one who needs to work on myself and remain a calm happy person. Rest will follow.

A positive ripple effect on their children and family. A mentally healthy mother is better equipped to provide emotional support, create a nurturing environment, and model healthy coping mechanisms for her children. Children benefit from having a mother who is physically and emotionally present, as it fosters a secure attachment and promotes their own well-being. It’s a well-known fact that a parent should lead by example. So I want my daughter to see a mother who takes care of herself physically and emotionally because that's what she will do for herself when she is an adult.

Let us empower ourselves to embrace self-care as an essential part of our journey. A mentally healthy mother is the foundation for a thriving family. Because life should be about thriving not just surviving!

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