How to ACTUALLY Take Care of Your Family
Once upon I time, in a far away land called St. Paul, lived a girl. The girl took care of herself, as all good girls do. She purchased raspberries and ate the whole carton by herself, she cooked entire meals (including vegetables!) despite the fact she would be the only person partaking in them, she went for runs just to feel good, she took vitamins, she slept a normal amount each night, and she even participated in things which delighted her.
After a bit, this girl fell in love. She married the man of her dreams and they started a family. And like most girls, she expected happily ever after. But, while she was indeed happy most of the time, a storybook happily ever after eluded her.
Suddenly, this beautiful girl cared for others and others only. She only ate healthy if her kids left her some broccoli and she never dared to touch the expensive fruit, which was now purchased to nourish her children and husband. She no longer exercised, because responsibilities weighed heavy and taking such time alone seemed selfish. She gave up sleep, because cleaning the house went much quicker when the children were tucked into bed. She no longer found activities that made her heart sing, because she was far too preoccupied planning educational activities for her little ones.
Around the world, women are sacrificing for their families. Some are going hungry, so their children can fill their tummies. Others have given-up or slowed-down careers to care for littles. Still others are juggling exceptional careers and pouring into motherhood all at the same time. Women die for their children every day. Mamas, this is what we do and we do it without hesitation. Our children come first in our lives and this is by design. We love our babies more than the air we breathe and such love is good, godly, and beautiful.
I would like the challenge you to consider another way to love our babies. Take care of yourself. Eat the last handful of strawberries. Leave the children with someone so you can workout. Are you an introvert? Read a book at a coffee shop. Are you an extrovert? Get some friends together. Sacrifice some television time with your spouse in the evening to wake up before your family to spend time in God-breathed scripture. Make your children use their marvelously creative minds to entertain themselves and clean the house while they are awake (it’s good for them to know magic fairies don’t scrub the floors anyway). Take time and effort to value YOU mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Flourish as a person, and your role as a mother will excel as well.
Last year, a wise mom told me I couldn’t constantly meet my kiddo’s needs, because “children are a bottomless pit of need.” How unbelievably true is this? They get a cracker and want seven more snacks cut in a precise fashion. You let them in the bathroom with you, and suddenly they demand a bath THIS MINUTE while you are still sitting on the ever-loving toilet. We need to set boundaries in every area of our lives, including motherhood.
Mother of teeny ones, this is hard. You won’t be able to do all of this and anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar (likely a well-meaning liar, but a liar none-the-less). Take small steps. Close the bathroom door and let the baby cry for a minute. Choose children’s books that you enjoy reading and ditch the annoying one, despite your toddler’s weird obsession with it. Listen to music you like, instead of “Let it Go” on repeat. For one meal, just let you kid eat normal plain, non-nutritious food, because you are fixing yourself a salad. Your child will live and perhaps even thrive despite the fact they may not always get his or her way.
Something magical happens when you start taking care of yourself – habits form. Suddenly, going to bed early and waking up early isn’t a difficult thing, it’s something you just do. Eventually, your kids know you use the bathroom with the door closed and there is no use whining about it (or at least maybe they will whine less). One day, your kid will ask for the Frozen soundtrack and will accept your gentle “No,” without a tantrum. Maybe, your kids will even “help” you clean your home. It might take 20 minutes of intense supervision to get them to put the shoes IN THE CLOSET, but whatever. You are forming habits.
I encourage you to make habits of self-care. You are worth the time and effort you used to put into yourself. Maybe you won’t do your nails like you used to, but at least be willing to invest in your mind, body, and soul on more than a minimally basic level. You were created unique and loved; this didn’t change when you had children. We need to take the time to come back recognizing our value as both women and moms. Your children will flourish under you and you deserve to thrive.
PS. I have a 4 year old!
Four years ago, if you would have told me this day would come, I would have called you a crazy person. I was just so tired and he would not stop screaming and why did they send me home with him when I clearly didn't what I was doing. There was basically zero chance of us all surviving the next four weeks, let alone four years. Alas, we made it. And let me tell you, this is my very favorite age. Mamas of teensy-crying-newborns, take heart. Someday, you will sleep a little more and your heart will just melt with those little footsteps each morning.
Danielle Geri Photography
I photograph and write from my "rural" home outside Buffalo, MN. While in central Minnesota, I dream of being in Minneapolis. When in Minneapolis, I dream of getting out of the Twin Cities. I am grateful lifestyle family photography allows me to travel all over the lovely state of Minnesota and still get to spend tons of time chasing my littles and writing to all the Darling Mamas who have chosen to follow along with me on this little life adventure. Thank you for allowing me a to speak a little encouragement into your life today. I hope you left a little more loved and a little more appreciating toddler bed-head.