I remember the first time I travelled internationally with my children.
For the first time I actually stopped to listen and observe carefully as the flight attendants demonstrated how to use the oxygen masks and life vests in case of an emergency.
With my baby in my arms and two daughters beside me, it suddenly felt important to know how I would go about saving their lives if need be.
The most important take-away?
Always put your own mask on first.
It struck me how contradictory this was to every maternal instinct inside of me.
As mothers, we regularly play the martyr.
It’s who we are, and who we want to be.
But what happens when the steady pouring out of ourselves leaves a gaping hole?
What happens when the mundane of life covers up the joy?
Is it ever ok to put me first?
As Christian mamas we heap on the added burdens of selfless service, taking up our cross and putting others ahead of ourselves.
We take the verses to heart and stretch ourselves thin and fragile over our treasures.
We want it all.
We want to be enough.
But we foolishly forget we will never be enough on our own.
There is no glory in exhausting our own resources so that at the end of the day we are weary, discouraged women with nothing left to offer.
I realize there are seasons and days when this is the inescapable reality of motherhood.
We all have seasons that drain the life out of us, but sometimes it’s because we are neglecting our own souls.
Self care is a bit of a hot button word right now, but it’s really not that complicated.
It means taking time to infuse hope, joy and energy back into myself.
The purpose of self care is to fill yourself up so that you can once again pour yourself out.
It’s hard to mother well from a depleted soul.
I practise self care so I can tuck my children in with smiles and tender kisses at the end of the day.
I practise self care so that I have energy to be active with my children.
I practise self care so that I reflect hope and joy to a dying world around me.
I practise self care to remind myself of who I am in Christ.
I practise self care so that I can enjoy time with my husband.
If you’re like me you might be reading this thinking, “Great, another thing to add to my never ending to do list. One more thing I’ve neglected to accomplish.”
But self care is probably something you’re already doing…it maybe just needs to be prioritized into your life a little more intentionally.
Self care is doing things that you love; things that make you happy.
It means feeding your passions and pursuing your dreams.
It means disciplining yourself to choose what is best so that you can reach your very greatest potential.
It means that every now and then, you put your own spiritual, emotional or social needs first.
So today…find a way to take care of yourself.
Turn on your favourite music, order pizza for dinner or get out for a walk.
Take a bath…with music so you won’t hear the chaos the kids are causing downstairs with your husband.
Plan a date night at home, exercise or go shopping.
Take a nap while the kids lie down, join a women’s group or book club, journal or call a friend.
Change the scenery around you for a few hours.
When we think of self care we tend to think of hiding away in a corner somewhere by ourselves, but some of these things can be done with your children at your side.
It’s about choosing to enjoy the life you have, and finding ways to make it easy to enjoy.
It’s ok to leave the dishes for a nap sometimes.
Deciding to spend the morning outside in the sunshine instead of cleaning the house is not a choice you will regret.
Losing some weight or cooking a nutritious meal will help you feel more motivated, energetic and happy.
Listening to your favourite worship songs while you feed the kids breakfast could be the difference between staying calm and refreshed or frustrated and stressed through the morning rush.
Pick up your Bible while the kids are quiet or listen to your favourite podcast while you fold the laundry.
I have found it can be such a subtle change to my day but such a great shift in my heart when I take the time to choose things that will fill up my own cup.
In John chapter 10 Jesus says,
“The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy but I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
This is what Jesus desires for you.