With all the advice out there on how moms should take care of themselves, I wanted to take a different approach. Everyone has opinions, which is often what I write about, but how about taking a more scientific approach? I’m sure most of you have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs at some point or another. If you haven’t, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a hierarchy of what we need as humans. It starts with basic survival needs and goes all the way up to reaching your full potential. I thought this would be a great way to structure the concept of self-care for moms. Contrary to popular belief, moms are actually human!
Self-Care for Moms Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Sure, we need food to live. Technically, you could eat junk food and survive, for a while anyway. But to apply true self-care to this stage, you need to nourish your body with healthy food that gives you the energy you need to make it through each day and to feel good. The best way to do this is to focus on whole foods, rather than processed or prepackaged meals.
I am a big promoter of the ketogenic diet. I started this diet while I was breastfeeding because it involves eating high fat, low-carb meals. As a mom, particularly a breastfeeding mom, you need a lot of energy. The ketogenic diet utilizes fat for energy, rather than carbs. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone low-carb and turned into a grumpy, miserable slug. The ketogenic diet changed that for me.
I talk more about my diet in My 16 Week Weight Loss Plan Part 1: The 5 Food Fundamentals. (I’m down 13 pounds so far!)
Humans need water to survive, plain and simple. While other drinks can still provide hydration, nothing beats pure H2O. When I am craving something different, I like to drink Green Tea with lemon for its many other health benefits, but I still make sure I am drinking water throughout the day. You can also try infusing your water with your favorite fruits, or adding flavoring. (Be careful when selecting flavoring – some of them aren’t as healthy as they advertise!) Soda is probably one of the worst things you can drink, even if it’s diet. (Maybe even more so if it’s diet according to some!) While the occasional soda is ok, it’s best to cut it out of your diet as much as possible.
Side Note: Coffee is controversial, but I still have a cup each morning. The key is moderation, and the type of coffee you have. A cup of black coffee is very different from a Venti Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks.
In regard to survival needs, this primarily means that we need to wear adequate clothing to protect us from the elements, but I want to take it a step further when it comes to self-care. Of course you need to make sure that you wear a coat when it’s cold, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a boring coat! Dress yourself in a way that makes you feel good. Express your personality. If you want to get that promotion at work, dress for success. If you want to be as comfortable as possible as a stay at home mom, wear a cute and comfy sweater. Just don’t wake up in the morning and throw on whatever is easiest to grab. Dress yourself intentionally and love the way you look!
This may very well be the most important piece of advice when it comes to self-care for moms. Get some sleep! Don’t stay up all night because it’s the only down time you have. Trust me, it won’t pay off the way you think it will. My recommendation is to go to bed early and sleep until you are well rested. If you can get enough sleep to feel well rested at 5:00AM, then by all means, wake up at 5 and enjoy your morning downtime before the kids get up. Or if you need to sleep until your little one wakes you up on the baby monitor, then do just that. If there is one area of self-care to focus on the most, this is it.
Don’t forget to rest your mind too. This can be done in a variety of ways. Meditation is fantastic and, in my opinion, the most effective method. But if meditation isn’t your thing, there are many other options. Turn off your phone and take a bubble bath, listen to music on a long drive, or just take a moment to yourself to lie down and relax. One way that I like to take a mental break is to take a day off from my normal tasks. While I still have use my brain, obviously, to take care of my son and do some basic survival tasks, I don’t have to stress about what to do next. I can just live in the moment, play with my son, and enjoy my day. If you are a working mom, take a day off from work. Just make sure that you don’t spend the entire day off trying to get every home project that you’ve been putting off done. Really take the day off. Relax and enjoy.
Safety and Security Needs
Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t feel financially secure? It can be pretty draining to go on feeling that way day in and day out. Living paycheck to paycheck or being heavily in debt takes a toll on a person. Often times, it results in a lower priority on your other needs as well. If you are in a place where you do not feel financially secure, you need to make a change.
This could mean changing your living situation to where you can live within your means, like moving into a smaller home or selling a vehicle that you could technically live without. It could also mean seeking help with debt management. It’s surprising how many resources there are out there once you start to look. During one of my most challenging times financially, I was pleased to find that a simple phone call to my utility company prevented me from losing service while I worked to earn the money to get caught up on my bill. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.
Health insurance is something that one should never be without. That moment when you say that you don’t need it because you don’t have any health problems, is likely when you’ll develop one. Even if you are a compete health nut, accidents happen. If you find yourself in the hospital due to a car accident, you will definitely want to have health insurance. Luckily, there are a lot of resources for this as well. Make sure that you and your family can sleep easy knowing that, should something happen, you can get the care that you need.
You and your family deserve to feel safe. If you live in a rough neighborhood, make it a priority to find a new living situation. A big house in a bad part of town is not worth the risk. Maybe the only solution is make a bigger change, like moving to a different state where the cost of living is lower, or the job market is better. Whatever you do, make sure to do your research and find the best possible situation for you and your family in terms of safety and comfort. It may be tough to balance this with your need for financial security, but there ARE ways. If you are low-income, some states are more generous than others when it comes to housing assistance.
If you can’t change your current living situation in terms of safety, there are other ways to meet this need. Does your job require you to take a late-night walk through a scary parking lot? Carry Mace with you and have it ready during this time. Better yet, enroll in a self-defense class or take up training in martial arts. Knowing that you can defend yourself and your family can be incredibly empowering!
I am not currently in a situation where safety is a concern, but I still find it empowering to feel strong as a woman. If you want to learn more about my fitness routine, check out My 16 Week Weight Loss Plan Part 2: The Workout
Belongingness and love needs
Everyone needs to feel loved, even those who claim they don’t. Love and belongingness needs can be fulfilled in many different ways, but it’s best not to focus on only one. If your spouse is extremely loving, that may seem to fill the need for the most part, but what about when he is having a rough time? Maybe the affection that was once there has gone and you’re left with no emotional support. Make sure to build up and maintain your friendships, or join and take part in groups or organizations that offer the support that you need.
Being a stay at home mom, and having most of my friends and family on the opposite end of the country, I’ve found a great deal of support in the blogging community. If you have a hobby, or if you are in a certain line of work, finding like-minded people to share your struggles and successes with can be extremely therapeutic.
Loneliness and Depression are all too common among moms, particularly stay at home moms. It is essential that you combat these by not only seeking out sources of love and belonging, but by removing any negativity in your life. If your only friends are constantly bringing you down, you need to get new friends. Is there a family member who makes you feel inadequate and small? Focus on other relationships that build you up so that when you inevitably see this family member, you have the confidence to ignore their criticisms.
If you are able to meet the first three needs (Physiological, Safety and Love), congratulations! You can now move on to focusing on bigger and better things. Next up is Esteem Needs.
This can be a particularly challenging need to meet as a mom. You may feel that the work you put in every day is not appreciated or noticed. Perhaps you even feel that your spouse or kids do not respect you. This all starts with YOU. If you do not have confidence in your work, whether that be at home or the office, others will not have confidence in you.
I started to feel a greater sense of appreciation and respect when I really got into blogging. Part of this was the feedback I received online about my blog, but I also noticed it at home. I felt better about myself and what I was bringing to the table. In turn, my husband’s respect for me grew. My best day was when someone at his work asked if I was his wife, because she loved my blog!
My advice is to find something that you are passionate about and strive to be the best at whatever that is. Take pride in what you do and others will feel it. Don’t be afraid to share your accomplishments and accept compliments graciously. The best way to gain appreciation and respect is to appreciate and respect yourself!
One of my most popular posts was written specifically for moms who are leaving their career to become a stay at home mom and how to redefine your self-worth. If you’re in the same boat, you can find the article here: Transitioning to a Stay at Home Mom: Redefining Your Self-Worth
If you’ve made it this far, you are already one exceptional individual. It’s no easy feat. The final stage of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is Self-Actualization. In other words, the need to fulfill your full potential. At this point, you have all the basic and psychological needs covered. You are likely a pretty happy person, but don’t stop now! If you do, you will find yourself yearning for more.
This stage is completely about you. While you still want to support relationships and friendships, others opinions should not be at the forefront when you are working in this stage. You need to find out what it is that you need to do to be happy and set your mind to it.
Think about your skill set, or the areas of work you enjoy. If you are a stay at home mom, do you have a hobby that could blossom into something more? When are you happiest? Is there something that you can’t stop talking about when the topic comes up? DO IT! Take the leap and start today. Whether that means starting a blog like I did, creating an online store to sell your homemade goods, or applying for the job you’ve always wanted. It’s time. It’s time to be the best version of yourself for you and for your family.
When you do pursue your passion, and you feel that you are being the best version of yourself, keep going! This is the stage that never ends. There’s always another challenge, or obstacle. And there is always more success to be had! Keep moving forward, keep living every day, and be happy. You deserve it.
Do you want to start a blog like I did? Check out my post on how to get started! How to Start a Mom Blog: A Beginner’s Perspective
Do YOU have any other tips about Self-Care for Moms? Let me know in the comments!
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