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Motherhood And Addiction, Part 1

Part 1 Notes on Being a Mother

“Once she stopped rushing through life, she was amazed how much more life she had time for.”
Unknown

Being a mother is the most rewarding job in the world. It is also the hardest. People often ask me how I manage caring for my three children and a very serious full-time job. It is a question I ask myself every night before I lay my head on my pillow and a question I ask again when I awake. How will I manage my day and do everything I want to do? And not just be able to do it but do it well.

As women, our expectations of ourselves are often much higher and as mothers, we often feel like nothing we do is ever done as well as we would have liked. So finding balance, managing my perfectionism and challenging my mommy guilt is something I face daily. It is imperative to me that self-care must always be a top priority in my life.

I have heard people use the example of the flight attendant and the oxygen mask to explain the importance of attending to myself many times before. It always reminds me that I must care for myself before I care for anyone else or the results could be catastrophic. My ability to be a happy, healthy woman relies on my willingness to take good care of myself.

It is not easy to find time for healthy self-nurturing behaviors. It is almost an oxymoron to say “free time” to a mom. In fact, the joke between mothers is usually “oh yes I will get to that in my spare time” because quite frankly there isn’t any. So, what I have found works for me is to schedule self-nurturing into my schedule and making it sacred. I actually schedule in time with girlfriends, time for yoga and working out, time for prayer and meditation and time to just sit by the pool and read a good book. It is important to me that I model for my children and my clients that self-care is essential. These self-nurturing activities are a gift to myself.

If you would like to start increasing your own self-nurturing you can start today. You can start by making a list of safe self-nurturing activities that you would enjoy doing. Shoot for the moon! Just because they are on your list doesn’t mean you can do them today but maybe someday. For example, I go to yoga every week because I have worked it into my schedule. I have paddle boarding on my list as a “someday” item that I haven’t been able to do yet but I plan to.

Next, set a structure for yourself that includes daily self-care. Maybe you wake up earlier than the kids so you can have prayer and meditation or take a bath after you’ve put them to bed. Try a variety of different things until you find the ones that really make sense for you. Give yourself permission to have fun! You may want to even journal about the things you enjoyed doing before life got so busy and ask yourself what your deepest needs are. Then write a letter to yourself reminding yourself of how precious you are and how much you need this. Try to surround yourself with people who support your intentions to be good to yourself. Ask your supporters to hold you accountable and cheer you on. The most important thing to remember is that we need to seek fun and pleasure in healthy ways and without excess. Give yourself the gift of self-care today. You deserve it!


 

Sarah Gentry, Lmhc

Sarah Gentry, licensed mental health counselor and certified addiction professional, is the owner of Sarah Gentry Counseling, PLLC, and the director of community outreach for Villa Tranquil. She specializes in working with guests and families with chemical dependency, eating disorders, co-dependency, trauma, and family-of-origin issues.