Wednesday, August 9

9 ways to help you find a delicate balance between motherhood and self-care

A friend of mine told me something that I will never ever forget.  She said that she wishes that her mama would have taken the time to take care of herself because maybe then she might actually still be alive.  Tears streamed down my face. 

We as mothers give 1000% of ourselves to our families every single day and what if, just what if we are missing something really important in all of this. 

What if this is a false type of humility?

What if by doing this we are being more self-ish than we are being self-less?

How many of you are like me and haven't been to the dentist since your oldest child was born.  You haven't had your pap smear or general doctor visit probably since then too.  I'll never forget the last time I went to the gym, I was 20 weeks pregnant with Ari Love and I blacked out on the treadmill.  I was really excited to get back in a gym I guess haha.  Thankfully my doctor husband was there and saved me while I re-gained consciousness.

Yesterday, I reluctantly posted this photo on my Instagram and my Facebook because my intent was not to focus on the difference, but instead on the fact that I love, respect, and admire who I am in both photos, both taken in very important seasons of my life.  I'm not mad that my body needs to accumulate a lot of fat to grow our healthy babies.  I felt beautiful and strong during my pregnancies and post-partum.  In fact, there's nothing like the strength and empowerment that I felt after growing and delivering our babies.  I realized that the only way that I can stay on that high has been to focus on my physical and emotional strength post-partum.

Six months ago, my love and I made a commitment together that we were going to get better at prioritizing our health.  For me, that meant taking better care of my skin (I posted my skin routine here) and work on getting in shape again. 

Honestly, when we started all of this I never thought it would become the self-care journey that it has been.  I just needed some structure so that I could gain some sort of grasp on life.

Well, it gave us that, and so much more.  And actually, the more has been more life-changing than anything else because it became health as in our body, our mind, and our spirit.

A lot of you were asking "what did you do?"  That question is actually super easy to answer.  We ate right and exercised.  That's it.  No magic pills or magic wraps or magic workout program. 

But the hard question is how
How does a busy mother of three young children find the time to meal plan?  How do I find the time to go to the grocery store?  How do I have time to cook?  How do I have time to exercise? How do I have time to wash my face?  How do I have time for anything really haha! How how how?

Now I'm no expert in your life.  But I will tell you what has helped ours.

1.  Make the decision.  I know this sounds silly but making the commitment is basically the most important step.  Saying that I'm going to do this and sticking to it.  Brent and I literally sat down and had a very heartfelt conversation about why we needed to do this and that it will make us stronger as a couple and better parents to our girls. 

2.  Communicate your needs.  Don't wait until you're about to explode from frustration.  This is healthy for any relationship and while I'm married to a psychiatrist (the best psychiatrist in all of Earth by the way), I still make the mistake of shutting down sometimes and he reminds me to just let it out, he is my confidante and my partner.  We are a team and Brent tells me to tell him what I need so that he can better understand how to help me.  I told him that I really needed some therapy time at the gym and needed to be more intentional about what we are eating because I'm tired of eating the goldfish off of the high chair (feel me?!) and he was immediately on board with me because he felt the exact same way! 

3.  Figure out what's important to you.   It started by me really wanting to go to therapy.  Yes, that kind of therapy.  I'm telling you this because there's no shame in it.  Therapy is so good, and I'm human and my family is going through a lot emotionally right now and I felt like I needed someone to help me get through grief.  I mean, if I had more time and more means, it would also include a mani/pedi every week, a massage, my hair done, a full time nanny, get the drift haha Anyway, we had our family in town one week so I had help with the girls and I just felt like I needed to go for a walk.  The walk turned into a run, and that run turned into the therapy that I didn't even know I needed.  God definitely spoke to me and told me that I needed the endorphins from exercise.  I cry sometimes when I work out.  The pain that I feel helps me connect with the pain that my mama feels.  It sounds sort of silly but this has helped me deal more than anything and then seeing the changes in my physical and emotional health has been totally worth it.

4.  Start low and go slow.  Oh look, pharmacy lingo that I finally get to use haha!  This phrase is used in the medical world for starting blood pressure medicine, but interestingly, is relevant to motherhood and self-care.  What I mean by this is to start by setting what you would consider attainable goals, to set up the momentum for when you go big or go home.  There's some psychological study that I read about once that talked about how our brain is affected positively when we attain goals which then lead to attaining even bigger goals.  I think in this delicate process, I want to set myself up for success.  My goals included going to the gym at least twice a week, and also not going to bed without washing off my makeup.  Even this was almost a little over-zealous but when I achieved these goals pretty consistently, I upped my workouts to 3 times a week and added a 5 minute skin routine.  This is where I'm at right now and so far so good!  I'm curious to see how my goals change in the upcoming months.

5.  Plan ahead.  Planning does not come natural to me so this was a hard thing for me at first.  But when I became a mother, making somewhat tentative plans was essential for us to thrive and so I'm really proud at how far I've come with this.  It's so important to plan out my self-care time, and having a consistent schedule with it is even better because then everyone knows what to expect, including me.  I feel like I'm so much less inclined to follow through with something when I have to scramble last minute, especially, especially when it's something for me.  Planning our meals (mostly) and the days that I exercise and all the fun activities that we have in between has made me a more present mother and gave us more time for so many other things.  See, in the end, taking care of myself for an hour of the day made me a better mother for the 23 hours remaining, and that's what I really consider as self-less.

6.  Ask for help.  Ah.  So much easier said than done right?  I will say that none of this has come without a price for my love and I.  We are blessed to have amazing and generous family who come all the way from Texas and help us and see the girls that they adore every couple of months.  In the in between time, Brent and I have budgeted to hire a babysitter about 3 times a week to help me get my workouts in.  We also joined a gym membership with daycare (so so important).  Florence does not feel comfortable in the gym daycare yet so we decided to get our own babysitter that all of our girls can really get to know and develop a loving and trusting relationship with.  We have two sitters that we absolutely adore and I tell them constantly what a blessing they are to our family. 

7.  Have a support network.  Don't do it alone!  My primary and most important support is my sweetheart.  He understands me and has been so incredibly amazing through this continuous journey.  I also have incredible mama friends near and far who are in this same season of growth and we keep each other inspired.  One of these mamas is a fitness guru and she gives me so much reassurance and confidence in what my body and my mind can do.  I also joined a running club full only mothers here in Little Rock and they all do such a good job of holding me accountable.  I don't run as much right now because I'm trying to heal my knees from 3 years of pregnancy and hormone buildup, but finding other mothers to connect with has been life-changing.

8.  Be flexible.  Things happen, and while planning has been a big part of this for me, I've also learned to adapt.  Adaptation really is the key to survival so this is super important.  If I can't get to the gym, I get the girls involved and do something at home, or we go for a walk in the stroller, or I reschedule for another day.  With fitness, what I eat is probably more important than getting to the gym so if I know I can't workout on a day that I usually do, I just try to really have my eating on point, and vice versa.  For my skin, I think in the 7 months that I have stuck to my skin routine, I've slept with my makeup on about 5 times and like, oh well! haha I'm happy with that!

9.  Give yourself time and grace.  *breathe in, breathe out*  "Rome wasn't built in a day," darlings.  Taking your time and being intentional about the changes that you instill into your life will have a much better outcome in the long run, I literally have to tell myself this multiple times a day.  And when you fall, pick yourself right back up and keep going.  Don't be ashamed to celebrate all victories, large and small, they matter.  Your feelings matter.  Your family matters.  You matter.  The Lord says that you are His masterpiece!  Believe that you are a masterpiece, and you are raising little Van Goghs and Picassos and Amelia Earharts and Maya Angelous.  

I know that the example that I set when I am trying to be the best version of myself leaves a much greater impact on our children than the mistakes and setbacks and failures that I make along the way. 

I pray that this has helped you in some sort of way.  As I've said, I certainly do no claim to be an expert in this, I'm just a wife and mother who wants to be a good one and I try hard, just like you.  I would love to know if there are other suggestions that you would like to add to this list!  Leave me a comment and lets start a discussion! 

My family is my motivation behind this post.  Thank you for all that you do for me and for us my love.


  1. Thank you so much for this! I am also starting a healthy journey and agree that being the best version of my self allows me to the best wife and mom. However sometimes I deal with guilt for carving out time for myself since everything is usually about my family. How do you work through the guilt to stay the course with your healthy journey, especially when you were just starting out.

    1. Renesha! I'm so proud of you for taking that first step! It's certainly the hardest and then a lot of the other stuff just kind of naturally falls into place. Let me tell you what my husband always tells me about guilt, he says "honey, guilt is a useless emotion!" It's ok to feel it, but realize that it won't do anything to feel guilty. I think being committed and seeing the fruits of the labor that I put in those few hours every week help me deal with not feeling bad about it. Like when I'm working out, I'm fully present in it so I can get it done efficiently and effectively and then get back home to my family. Then when I'm with my family, I make a very very intentional effort during the time that I'm with them to be fully present as well! Honestly, we are all in this together and we all win. You are doing an amazing job mama!! Your family is so blessed to have such a strong woman setting an example!

  2. This is so true! Kids take up 100% of my time and the rest of it goes to my husband...which leaves me very tired and very unhappy! I made it a point to eat and exercise which makes so much difference! Now I only need about 10 years of sleep to catch up!

    1. haha yes!! My motto is "I'll sleep when I die" haha!!! I'm so glad that you're taking the time out for yourself, your family will appreciate you and love you even more for it!