7 Ways to Take Care of You, So You Can Take Care of Your Family


AUDIOBLOG (click play below to listen)

This is message to you, but the truth is, it is first a message to myself because it is what I need to hear most right now.

You know how they tell you on a plane to put your own oxygen mask on first before you help anyone else. It seems so counterintuitive.

As women we are raised to think of others before ourselves. But if we don’t follow those very important instructions in an airplane emergency, we may endanger ourselves and our children.

I find the same true in day to day life. If we don’t take time to take care of ourselves, it impacts our whole world and may endanger our relationships and our own health.

My Breaking Point

In the last 3 years I have had two babies and launched a new business. That was on top of raising a teenager, running another business with my husband, running a home and being a wife. To say the least it has been a busy time.

Recently, I hit a breaking point. I had baby Jett almost 9 months ago and feel like my home, my health and even my relationship with my husband has gotten out of control. I started thinking about changes I could make and who I could use as a guide.

Guess what – the role model was right there in front of me. My awesome Mom, Roseanne Cook.

I realized my Mom had unknowingly passed on lessons on how I could “put my oxygen mask on first”, without ever speaking a word about it. She passed on this wisdom by how she lived, what she made a priority and what she did not.

7 Important Lessons from My Mom

  1. Take Care of Your Body

My Mom has always taken care of her body by working out and eating healthy food. She has a slight leg up in this in that she was a combination English/PE major in college and was teaching middle school PE when she had me and later was an adaptive PE teacher (which means she is skilled in adapting activities to kids with down syndrome, autism and other special needs).

When I was growing up in the 70’s, there weren’t a bunch of gyms and yoga studios around, but my Mom would work out at the YMCA or speed-walk around the neighborhood. In the 80’s she got into Jazzersize and the last 10 years she has been doing a lot of low impact workouts like water aerobics and yoga.

What I realized is that my Mom makes working out a priority in her week. Even when we had a crazy busy schedule of after school activities, she would often walk the track at the school where my brother and I had swim practice.

Next Step: My takeaway is that I need to schedule workouts and mark them on my calendar. If I don’t plan them and arrange for childcare or my husband to help, they are not going to happen.  

I’m happy to report that I have gone to spin class 3 times in the last 7 days (twice at 5:45AM).

  1. Maintain Your Friendships

Earlier this year I had a tear fest crying to my husband about feeling really lonely. I have a lot of friends “online” who I interact with every day, but have struggled to find time to meet a local girlfriend for lunch or coffee. The root of this is feeling that I need to use the time I have my nanny here to work (not workout or see a friend).

My Mom is huge on connecting in person with people and throughout my life I have observed her cultivating and making time for her friends. She used to have regular lunch date with her BFF Kay or they would just pop by each others houses for a cup of coffee and a chat.

She also would go shopping and out to lunch once in a while with her friend Mary.

My parents were part of a Bunco group that met once a month at each other’s homes. If you don’t know what bunco is you can google it.  But basically it is a dice game and they would share a meal each time and have prizes. I remember it being fun when it was hosted at our house because I got to hang out with my parent’s friends while they snacked on yummy appetizers and desserts, then see my parents having fun with their friends as I headed off to bed (make no mistake I often got snuck of bed to see more of the fun…at least until I got caught).

Next Step: I don’t need to feel guilty about using time I have childcare to see a friend.  Also, this is something that I need to plan ahead and schedule for. There are also a few women I have met that I want to get to know better. They have kids my boy’s ages so I can reach out to them to meet at the park for a playdate and don’t need childcare for that. Mark and I really enjoy hanging out with other families and we need to be more intentional about that.

I’m happy to report that I have started meeting a local business friend for coffee once a month and am being intentional about scheduling time with my girlfriends and it just fills me up when we get together!

  1. Date Your Husband

One of the things I appreciate most about my parents marriage which is closing on 45 years strong is that I know my Mom and Dad are still in love. They truly enjoy each others company and have maintained a passionate relationship through the ups and downs of life.

My parents always dated each other. One of my favorite memories is of my parents getting dressed up in the 70’s in their disco outfits and going out dancing. It is still fun to see my parents moves on the dance floor.

They showed me that their marital relationship is a priority. As a Mom myself now, I know all the work that goes into planning a date. My mom had to arrange a sitter, figure out our dinner and possibly plan the date too (since this seems more like her skill set than my dad’s).

Next Step:  Mark and I really need to work towards a weekly date night, but for now we can start with once a month and work up to the once a week goal. For now daytime dates are OK, since baby Jett is very mommy-centric at night. Also, we can meet for lunch during the week when our nanny is here or my Mom is here for the day. For our stage of life, it involves a bit of creativity.

Yeah we went on a date a few weeks ago. I booked my nanny to come for 4 hours on a Saturday. My parents are coming this Friday for the day and we are both going to take the day off work to spend time together.

  1. Hire Help

I’m so thankful my Mom showed me it is OK to hire help. I spent my formative years in a very blue collar town and doubt that anyone else in our neighborhood had a housekeeper. When I was in elementary school, my Mom worked full time and my Dad worked full-time plus he was starting his own civil engineering business on the side. When I interviewed my Mom about how she has maintained a Productive Home, my mom shares that she decided “I was worthy to have help with my home.”

This also included help fixing things too. My Dad is super handy and can fix almost anything, but if he is too busy my Mom will hire those projects out.

Next Step: While I have outsourced a lot in my home and am thankful to have a nanny who helps me 3 days a week, I do need to find a few babysitters that are available for hire for date nights. Also, I want to hire an organization consultant to come help me with some problem areas in my home. In addition, I need to call our handyman to come do things Mark is too busy to do.

I have not made any progress in this area yet, but stay tuned!

  1. Pamper Yourself (hair cut/color, nails, now massages)

My Mom showed me it was OK to take spend money on pampering myself.

She had those acrylic nails in the 80’s and 90’s and of course she rocked an awesome perm.

So, I saw my Mom making herself a priority and often accompanied her to get her nails or hair done.

Next step:  I have a tendency to wait until things are looking really bad before I make a grooming appointment. It comes back to scheduling. I need to plan in advance when my next few hair appointments are.  Also, I want to get a manicure and pedicure once a month, staring this week (my toes need help).

  1. Have Hobbies

I saw throughout my life that my Mom had other interests besides work and being a Mom. She usually was involved in some type of art activity. For years it was toll painting.

In the last 10+ years, she has gotten really into gardening. First it was growing roses, which is perfect since her name is Roseanne. But now, she and my Dad are really focused on growing their own food.

My Mom also has spent a lot of time volunteering with organization that benefit children with special needs like the Special Olympics or Autism Camps. In addition, she serves at her church in a variety of ways.

Next step: So I realize I do not have a hobby right now unless you consider posting to social media for biz or personal a hobby. Does making images in Canva or Wordswag count? No, I don’t think so.

I used to like to make homemade cards and I started knitting a few years ago, but only ever made a few scarfs.  I’m not sure what my next hobby is going to be, but I am going to open myself up to something new. Stay tuned for that too.

  1. Take Time to Look Nice

My Mom always looks put together. It’s not like she waltzes around the house dressed like June Cleaver.

She just sets some time aside each morning to take a shower, get dressed and throw some make-up on.

Granted she doesn’t have little kids to deal with, but she did this even when we were little. In fact, my Dad leaves the house every day around 5AM to go work out and then get to work early, so my Mom figured out how to shower safely with two little ones.  She would lock us all in the bathroom while she took a shower. I remember trying so hard to break out of there while she showered with the door half open so she could check on our mischief.

I also remember watching my Mom sit in front of her vanity mirror and put on her make-up.

I often find myself halfway through the day still unshowered and in yoga pants.  Ok, let’s be real, it sometimes is the end of the day and I am smelly and in yoga pants and never worked out.

Also, when we are going somewhere as a family, I spend time getting everyone else ready, packing the diaper bag and snacks that I’m left with little or no time for myself, so I end up with my hair in a ponytail and trying to put on mascara in the car which doesn’t always end well.

Next step: I need to make getting me ready a priority especially when we are going somewhere as a family. Also, I can delegate some of the tasks I normally do to help the family leave to my husband or daughter or get stuff ready the night before.

I also need to be honest with myself about whether or not I am going to work out. If it is not going to happen, I need to get dressed into real clothes. Hey no offense if you live in yoga pants, but I don’t feel my best going out in public in them.

So thanks Mom for teaching me these 7 ways to take care of myself. I’m prepared to put my oxygen mask on first now.

How do you put yourself first and what other tips did your Mom or other mentors teach you? Share in the comments below or Tweet Me!

Don’t miss these two great mentors.

Ep 174: The Peaceful Home – Creating a Haven Out of Chaos with Joanne Miller of 48 Days               Ep 175: The Productive Home: Tips for Every Life Stage with Roseanne Cook

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