Being a mom is awesome.
It’s amazing, rewarding, and one of the biggest blessings and highest callings of my life.
Being a mom can also be exhausting.
As a mother of five young kids, the demands on my time and body can totally drain my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual strength.
The bottom line: a mother has to take care of herself if she’s going to have anything left to give to her family.
As a young mom, I read a lot of advice from well-meaning experts about how wrong and self-centered it is for women in our culture to focus so much on “me time.” And I agree with that, to a certain extent.
In twelve years of motherhood, I’ve learned the long, hard way that failing to invest a little time, a little energy, and sometimes even a little money for my emotional and physical health leads to very ugly things like burn out, exhaustion, depression and even illness.
Last year was an amazing year for our family… blessed, productive, fun… and busier than ever.
Honestly, I didn’t always do so well in cultivating margins in my life in 2015, but there are a few take away lessons I gleaned from twelve, jam-packed months as a pastor’s wife and mom.
Here are the top five things I did for the sake of my health in 2015… maybe something here will inspire you as you consider how you’re going to prioritize your life as a busy woman in 2016.
Call it “me time” “quiet time” or whatever you want, but every mama needs time to recharge. Every woman needs it!
In 2015, I-
Cut Back on Commitments.
Oh friends. I cannot tell you how hard it is for me to say “no” to being busy!
The short story is that I get a whole lot of self worth out of being productive and successful in whatever I’m doing. That goes for homeschooling, keeping my house clean, ministry projects, staying in shape, blogging and anything else that lands in my lap.
Workaholic. Adrenalin junkie.
Yes ma’am, that’s me.
Last August, I hit a pretty low point with my health. After spending a week in bed battling terrible fatigue and a number of stress-related symptoms, I realized that, just maybe, the Lord was trying to get my attention.
I prayed about my priorities, talked things over with my husband, and ended up pulling away from several commitments: freelance writing, ministry, and some home business goals.
These are all things I dearly love, but staying so over-committed was literally eroding my physical and emotional health.
Did I want to let those things go? No.
Was it worth it to feel free of the unnecessary stress? Absolutely.
Got Intentional About Sleeping
This one sounds pretty crazy, but it’s true. I had to get intentional about getting enough sleep.
I’ve battled insomnia most of my life, so when I entered motherhood with it’s pregnancy sleeplessness, around the clock breastfeeding, and insanely busy days… well, not sleeping just started to feel normal.
By way of confession, I’ll tell you that I have pulled enough all-nighters in the past ten or twelve years to qualify for a graveyard shift!
Has it been worth it. No. A million times no.
My stress and anxiety levels escalate dramatically when I’m not getting enough sleep.
Last year, I started telling myself no to insanely late nights and early mornings.
Do I still struggle with insomnia or restlessness? Yes, at times I do.
When I start feeling high strung or unable to shut my brain down at night, I take half-a-pack of this sublingual Rest supplement. It’s an all-natural, herbal calmer-downer… and I am very thankful for it!
Cultivated Regular Times of Solitude
I owe this one entirely to my husband, Jeremy.
When I cut out my stay-up-all-night-because-it’s-the-only-quiet-time-I-get habit, I had a brand new challenge:
Sure, I was getting more rest, which was great. But now I had basically no time to myself. [Enter the wicked “me time” theme music.]
As a homeschooling mom, my mornings are completely FULL. My afternoons permit a tiny margin of “free time” while the younger kids nap, but that is generally interrupted by one need or another.
Between cooking, homemaking, ministry and just being a wife, friend, and mom, well, my days can merge into a crazy blur of activity with very little time to recover!
I have always craved quiet.
My introvert soul smothers under relentless noise, busyness, and over-stimulation. And in a household with five growing children, I can assure you that the noise, busyness and over-stimulation is indeed relentless!
My wonderful husband saves the day (and my sanity, as well!) by giving me a few hours of “down time” pretty much every week.
He takes the kids with him during errands or work or ministry projects, and I crawl into my delightfully quiet cave and recharge! I do get up early’ish (6 or 7) most mornings, so those are also my “quiet times.”
I use these windows of quiet/solitude to spend time with the Lord, think and pray, write in my journal or the journals I keep for my kids, blog, or work on other home business or writing projects.
Went to a Nutritionist
This is one of those things that I intended to do for years, but just never did.
After a trip to the doctor last summer, I decided it was time to find some answers for the symptoms I kept dealing with.
Since Thyroid issues are a big problem in my family, I chose a nutritionist who offered medical labs and blood testing.
My Thyroid levels came back fine, but I was able to pinpoint several other issues in my body that need some attention.
And I also got an official statement of a gluten allergy. 😛
Invested in a Naturopathic Nutrition Supplement
I’ve always taken vitamins and herbs. Handfuls of vitamins and herbs, on a daily basis.
Last May, I took the plunge and started a nutrition system called Thrive. I say this is an investment because, yes, it takes money to get quality vitamins, minerals, herbs, enzymes and probiotics into your body! But, friends, the benefits have far out-weighed the initial costs! (And now my Thrive pays for itself, which is nice.)
I didn’t see results immediately, but within a few weeks I could feel a big difference in my digestive health, and the fatigue and sleeplessness were improving.
After a few months on these three core products, I noticed that my varicose vein pain had improved drastically and the left-over baby weight from my last three pregnancies was gone.
Seven months later, I’m so thankful I discovered this product! It’s been a game changer for me and I intend on being a lifetime Thriver.
For me, healthy living is an on-going journey.
We sometimes encounter illness, times of stress, life changes, seasons of spiritual battle and other challenges for our mind, body, and soul.
I haven’t ever discovered a moment of arrival. Some days are a struggle. Some years are a struggle.
These are simply five “steps” I took in 2015 toward a healthier mind, body and soul.
What is ONE change you made for your health last year?
Kristy Howard is a pastor’s wife, second-generation homeschooling mom of five, and a passionate believer in friendship, coffee, and quiet time! Kristy writes about motherhood, ministry and life at KristysCottage.com.