Did you know that it’s Maternal Mental Health Week? For the next five days, The Blue Dot Project is asking mothers to take the #RealMotherhood Challenge. Mothers throughout the internet are being encouraged to share photos and posts showing the true side of motherhood. This includes all the fun stuff, the non-Pinterest worthy stuff, and also, the things that people don’t always get about being a mom.
As Mothers, we put our children’s needs before our own. When we get tired, we hear a lot about self-care. Sleep more, eat right, exercise and be healthy. It’s easier said than done, but it’s very important.
There’s something else that I realized is also key to my own well-being. I need fulfillment. I need something else for myself that is not a part of work, motherhood or marriage. I need pieces of my old life, and things that I want and like to do. These things have to be fulfilling, and make me feel proud and excited about life. It’s just as important aspect of self-care. My therapist called it “Value-Added” activities.
This part is even more difficult. How can we balance it all? The answer really depends on your situation. Like many mothers, I have a lot on my plate. Part of my own self-care involves blogging, reselling and reading. However, this past week, I found a lot of satisfaction through value-add experiences and activities.
The first activity involved charity. Our office was recently asked to collect goods for children in need. I volunteered to help by purchasing all of the items and sorting through what was needed. In the end, we were able to donate to both local and overseas organizations. Throughout that process, I felt really happy. This was the perfect value add activity – it allowed me to accomplished something good, and really reflected my personal values at the same time.
My second situation came unexpectedly. After picking up my breakfast, I noticed something on the floor. There were a few homeless people close by, but they didn’t seem to pick up on it. I grabbed it and brought it back to the bakery. It was a young man’s wallet. It didn’t appear that anything had been missing – ID, credit and bank cards, and cash was all there. I spent the next 30 minutes in my office online stalking this person. Why? If it had been me, I would have wanted to know immediately where my wallet was. A few hours after it had been found, the wallet was returned to its relieved owner. I was happy to do it. I didn’t want anything in return; I just enjoyed the opportunity to help someone.
The last opportunity to give was unexpected. I work in an downtown area. There are a lot of homeless people. Most of them are “regulars”, so it’s hard to continually give to them. Others are unstable, so it isn’t always safe to do it. That particular day, I had takeout orders for breakfast and lunch. There was more than half left from each, but I figured I could eat them later. While walking to my car, I saw an unfamiliar face and his dog. His sign simply said “Homeless and Hungry”. As usual, I walked past, eager to get home. However, something felt strange. I never felt good about ignoring the needy. Yet, here I was, with more than enough food that I could finish. I turned around, smiled and gave him the bag of food. I walked away happy. I can’t always give to those around in our area, but that day felt different. I ended that workweek in a good way.
All of these things may not really fit into what we define as self care. However, their impact is just as important. There’s something to be said about being able to contribute. There’s a great feeling in accomplishment. There’s an even better feeling when you help others. Since my experience with value – add activities was so positive, I’m thinking of finding ways to incorporate them more often in my life. They don’t have to be big projects, nor do they have always be planned. Incorporating them in our lives not only becomes a great lesson for our children, but something fulfilling for ourselves. That’s #RealMotherhood!