May 8, 2019

Mothers, take care!

Read about some ways busy moms can take the time for some much-needed self-care.

The laundry is piling up. A school lunch still needs to be made. The Diaper Genie is overflowing. For parents, this daily task list may sound all too familiar. But even in an egalitarian society, according to studies, these tasks often fall to mom.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on an average day, more than twice as many women reported doing housework, such as laundry and cleaning, compared to men.

Kate Land, MD, a pediatrician at the Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center, explores ways moms can find time for self-care that may benefit the whole family.  

Define ‘having it all’ for yourself

The phrase “having it all” has become ubiquitous, but it is so highly personalized. I encourage moms to sit down and think about their own personal definition of “having it all.” Think about what makes you feel stressed out. Then think about what you need to do for yourself to feel fulfilled.

For me, I need to exercise, spend time with my tribe of friends, and get enough sleep! It comes back to the basics of paying attention to one’s own health. To be happy and my best self for my family, I need to remember to take care of myself first.

Delegation is key

How do you find the time and space to put yourself first? One word: Delegation!

I recommend making a list of everything it takes to keep the household going, and then divide the list among whomever lives in your house, including kids!

But here’s the key: When you delegate, give up control of that task. If you divide up the chores, you can’t criticize the result, like how Dad put on that diaper. And this is especially true in the care of infants. People other than mom can successfully take care of children — grandparents, babysitters — and it’s healthy for kids to learn how to spend time with other adults, too.

Family work parties

I’m a big fan of giving transparency into what it takes to run a household, so I love having my kids get involved. More than a chore list, I like to create an environment where kids consistently contribute, like unloading the dishwasher. I often do work parties on Saturday — we tackle all the household chores as a team. Even toddlers can help, like by putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket.

I stopped making school lunches early on. I made them every morning for years, but I always found it to be an energy zap. One day, my teenager brought home all these lovingly made, uneaten lunches that he had stuffed into his locker. After that, I said, ‘I’m done!’ Now my kids oversee this task. I tell them to make their lunches healthy and balanced — but after that, I let it go!