Putting Yourself First: Introduction to Self-care

I know that for many of you, “self-care” is an abstract idea. The idea of taking time for yourself seems difficult and maybe even absurd.  How could you do something like that when your kid needs a million different things?

I think the best analogy in favor of self-care is the “oxygen mask”. You know when are in an airplane, and they are explaining if the cabin loses pressure the oxygen masks will fall. They always say to put your own mask on first before assisting other passengers. Why is this? 

Because if you are out of oxygen, you can’t help anyone.  If you are out of energy, you can help anyone. If you are out of love for yourself, you can’t help anyone.

Self-care at its core, is loving yourself for just a few moments a day to remind yourself of who you are.

You need to put your own oxygen mask on first! 

Now, I know your mama guilt is going to skyrocket. My mother, even though all of us are grown and doing well, still feels guilty. My mother, who I personally believe is the best mother ever, still feels guilty.  Perhaps being a mother is being guilty.

Nevertheless, my mother always took 45 minutes every single morning to go outside and take a run. She did it without guilt because she knew that without it, she wouldn’t be on her game as a mother. She always wanted to be the best mom, and to do that she had to be strong and have a clear mind.  To be the best, she had to put herself first. 

Take 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 40 minutes, whatever you have time for. It is the greatest gift you can give to your family and yourself.

Learning to balance and not burnout is part of this long marathon of being a mother of a child with special needs. Marathon runners train and train. They train taking on the hard parts. They train to be able to push through the hardest times.

You need to train yourself to take some time each day for yourself.

Here are the 4 key ways to creating a self- care routine.

1. Pick an activity you love!


Pick something you love. For me, when I began my routine, I started with reading. I love to read so I choose that. This is your time so do whatever you love the most. Here are some ideas for you if you are not sure:

  • Sitting with yourself/ meditation

  • Going out for a walk or run

  • Yoga 

  • Reading a book

  • Bath

  • Dance

  • Sing

  • Listen to music 

  • Going a workout class

  • Become a member to a workout app like melissawoodhealth.com 

  • Go to the spa

  • Take a bath and get dressed in peace and on your own.

2. Tell your family about the change in schedule.


Make sure they understand clearly why you need this and how you are going to do it. Make sure to answer all their questions and concerns so that everyone is supporting you! Commonly, mothers are shocked at how supportive their partners are when it comes to this. Your partner wants to help so this is a great way to get them on board. For example, my mom would take a nap every Saturday.

During this time, if my father caught us waking her up or being too loud, we got in so much trouble! My dad was always much more upset than my mother. He wanted to support her. Give your partner a chance to take this time and support you fully!

3. Same time, every day!


It’s really a good idea to pick the same time every day. I always do my routine in the morning before work. However, you should do whatever is best for you. If it’s best to do it at night before bed, do that! If lunch is your time or during your child’s nap, choose that. Your time is your time and therefore should be the best time for you.

4. Stay accountable for your decision


This is the hardest part. How are you going to stay accountable for your decision? How will you follow through? I suggest you get a buddy in this journey.

Perhaps another mother who is going through the same thing. You can both check in with each other. Don’t be each other crutch but either coaches. Keep each other strong and when you are feeling down, help each other get back up!

I know that for many of you, this is scary. You can do this!

This is your time!

And even though we may have never met, I know you deserve to make this change for yourself.