Take care of yourself mama! 

By Enid Westerlund

Welcome to the middle of another week - well done for making it this far! Self-care, wellbeing and mental health are some of the most used terms since Covid infected our lives. All of them are interchangeable, very important and like everything, requires practice.  Being in a good space with an uncluttered mind helps us make better decisions and be better equipped in dealing with daily stresses. Where do we even start with making time for ourselves? How do we begin to unlearn habits of needing to be all things to everyone?

We need to make time for ourselves and not make our kids, spouse or messy house an excuse to not do it.  Chores will always be there; the house will always need cleaning and kids need tending.  Self-care is more important than ever.   I’m not advising to lock yourself away and dive into anti-social behaviour or a weekly spa treatment, although that’s always nice.  Unless you own one, it will definitely break the bank in Samoa.  Self-care is more practical than that, it’s making sure you’re taking care physically, exercising, getting enough sleep, maintaining boundaries, spending time with people who build you up and add value to your life, finding a career you love and much more.  It will be different for everyone, you’ll have to figure out what’s best for you and your schedule.  

Busy is the norm for everyone these days, there’s a mad rush every day.  Work is a nail to board scratching alarm each morning, lunch preparations for everyone, school drop offs and then another horn honking turtle traffic to work.  This is all before actual work begins! We even forget to breathe through some mornings unless everyone has been taken care of.   

As parents and responsible adults, we care for everyone else except ourselves.  Mothers hardly have time to finish their coffee in the morning before the rush.  Let’s face it, most mothers wake up earlier and sleep later than everyone else in the family.  We sacrifice a lot of ourselves for our aiga, church and community.  

Why is this the norm? Why are mothers given so much of this responsibility, especially caring for our children? No wonder there is much guilt when we do something for ourselves, when we take a day off, away from our kids and spouses. Mother’s Day shouldn’t be an annual event, it can be every day! 

I don’t know about you but I see this a lot in families, where most of the parenting is done by mothers.  Sure, fathers have some input but at the end of the day, it is mothers who are present daily and do most of the caring, nurturing and teaching.  Society has put so much pressure on us to perform at our best.  If we are being honest, we also put so much pressure on ourselves because that’s the way it’s always been. If you are an older sister, you were expected as a child to babysit your younger siblings, set good examples for all the children whether it’s in academia, sports or cleaning the house.  As adults, we are expected to keep a spotless home, a supermodel figure and a boss status.  It’s not just mothers, it is all women.  We are expected to succeed and excel at whatever we do. So don’t blame us if we feel uninspired, burnt out and just want to crash on the couch at the end of the day!  

Self-care has never been more important if we want to be more productive.  We often don’t have the time, energy, freedom and motivation to make space for it.  Don’t let your busy schedule get in the way as there is no better time to start than right now. 

Do it daily and it will become second nature, a good habit to have. Here are a few simple things we can do to jumpstart this.  

    1.    Establish a morning routine: Early risers are amongst some of the most successful people.  Leaders spend time reading, exercising, meditating and anything else that helps set the tone for the day.  This is the time to organise and prioritise that which is important to us.

    2.    Care for your body/physical health: Whether it’s spending a few extra minutes on your hair or exercise.  Make an effort to look and feel good, your way.  Whatever that means to you, do it.   A good routine develops self-discipline and helps us move closer to accomplishing our goals.

    3.    Make time for yourself: Spare five to ten minutes every day for yourself. Do something that doesn’t require much effort.  Allocate a few moments for a nice coffee or tea, reading a page or chapter of a new book or listening to your favourite music.  Breathing exercises, gardening or being with nature.  You can do anything that makes you step into a new day feeling awesome.  Simplicity is best.  

    4.    Define your priorities: The usual mantra is to go in early, work late, work harder, sacrifice now for a great reward later. The truth is, a balanced life and peace of mind are not produced by these. Learning to prioritise, living with focus and integrity will be more sustainable in the long run.  

5.    Anything else that makes you happy.  The possibilities are endless. It is that simple.

Remember, motherhood doesn’t always mean complete sacrifice.  It means defining what’s important, making the right decisions for you and having the courage to follow them through. To benefit your whole family. 

What do you enjoy doing during free time (this doesn’t mean quick cleaning or doing the laundry)? Something for yourself.

When do you feel most at peace?

What would you like more of, less of, in your life? 

If you want things to change, how would you do this? 

Asking yourself these questions are important, although they may be difficult at first.  If we don’t take care of ourselves, we’ll be forced to let others care for us when we are unable to.  Take care of yourself first mama, it helps not only you but your whole family.  Nothing changes unless we decide to make those changes!


By Enid Westerlund

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