I am a night owl, always have been.  I am much more able to stay up late than to get up early.  And these days it seems that nighttime, after the kids are in bed, is the only real time I have to myself.  It’s quiet.  For the most part I know my ‘mom-ly’ responsibilities are done for the day.  Sure, there may be that occasional, little voice calling, ‘mommy, can you tuck me in?’ (again, for the umpteenth time!).  But in general, I can fully relax.  The problem is, I enjoy this quiet time so much that hours pass, and by the time I get to bed, any hope for a full night sleep is out of the question.

What I know in principle I need to put into action.

I need to first care for myself, that I may more effectively care for them.

I used to hear women speakers talk about the need to care for yourself, and wrote it off as their way to pursue selfish ambitions, yet in recent months I have come to see this advice from a different perspective.  Sure, some women may use this as an excuse to be selfish, needing endless amounts of ‘me time,’ but when put into a proper context, I finally see the truth in this.

When I just had one child, balancing life was fairly easy.  If I was tired, I could take a nap with her, or even take a nap while she played.  It was only one little voice requesting mommy’s attention, and man-to-man was a fairly easy defense.  The second came along, and I still managed pretty well.  My first born is a natural helper, and a neat-freak, so that combination made my life a LOT easier as we welcomed this new child.  As our third child reached one-year and became a walker, I felt like my world was turned upside down.  I simply could not keep up.  He had endless energy, and seemed to make a mess every where he went.  I constantly found myself short on proper rest, which effected my level of patience.  Looking forward to the fourth child we are expecting, I am becoming more and more aware of the necessity to care for myself.

This may look different for different women, although I suspect the same principles would apply.

For me, a tired mommy is a cranky mommy….a very cranky mommy.  Caring for myself means that I need to get to bed at a decent hour.  Some nights, that means I go to sleep at 8:30pm, even though it makes me feel like an old grandma!

A hungry mommy also makes a cranky mommy physically and spiritually.   This means that I need to get up, showered and dressed before my children arise so that I have time to read my Bible before their day begins.  When I begin to neglect the Word, it reveals itself in my disposition and often become monster mommy.

Getting up early also allows me to prepare breakfast prior to their little bellies, and my big belly grumbling with hunger.  Having breakfast ready before we all have ‘hunger-grumps’ helps get the day going on the right foot.  It also gives me time to engage them at the breakfast table, going over their Scripture memory and catechism questions without having to rush.  When we get a late start I am often making breakfast while they are fussing (due to hunger).  By the time we sit down, I am stressed out about the to-do list, wondering if it’s all going to get done, and am rushing them to ‘just eat already.’  As a result, I can often neglect the most important task of nourishing their souls.

Caring for mommy means that I am feeding myself nutritious foods, that provide sustaining energy without the mood swings I get from certain things.

Caring for mommy means that I guard my afternoon quiet time.  After lunch the kids all have nap time, during which I will often nap, or sometimes get some works done, such as bill paying, etc.  My oldest likes to ask a lot of questions from the top of the stairs in an effort to avoid falling asleep.  It is important for my sanity that I keep this quiet time as quiet time so that my body can get adequate rest to sustain me the rest of the day.

Exercise has always done wonders for me.  I good run clears my mind and refreshes my soul.  I can leave the house exhausted, frustrating, ready to scream, and come back from a brisk walk or run refreshed and energized.  Sometimes this happens during the day, with the kids, and sometimes it happens after my husband returns from work, and I ‘escape’ for a little while.  Either way, keeping a diligent exercise routine is part of the way I care for myself, and it does indeed benefit my family.

What are some ways that you care for yourself, for the benefit of your family?