My mom was my seatbelt before they were required by law. I can still feel her arm reaching over to make sure I was safe at the stoplight. A typical doting mother, she was always worrying about every one else, but rarely took enough time for herself. And even before the age of i-phones and internet, she was suffering from BMS—Busy Mom Syndrome. It’s the ailment of every mother: Too much to do, too little time to do it.
If you’re a mom, your shift is 24/7. You don’t get weekends or holidays off. But this Mother’s Day, instead of giving the kids a time out, give yourself a time out. It’s the best thing you can do for your health. Here are some of the best ways for Mom to take care of Mom:
Ignore the kids.
No, not indefinitely. But carve out some time when you stop caring about others and put yourself first. Take just 15 minutes. Find a babysitter. Ignore the to-do list. It may sound selfish, but the more you take care of yourself and your needs, the more you’ll have to give to others. You can’t be a good mom on an empty tank.
Don’t just scream at the kids to eat healthier, do it yourself. If you want to protect yourself from chronic diseases and cancer and you want to have more energy for your children, load up on fruits and vegetables. And no matter how busy you are, try and avoid foods that are loaded with sugar, salt and fat.
Your inclination may be to take a nap. But if it’s energy you’re after, you’d be better off lacing up your sneakers. This is the most important thing you can do for your health. You don’t have to run a marathon, just take a walk. This can be done with or without the kids. Try and sneak in 2 to 3 hours of exercise every week. You can dance, bike, swim, play tag with the kids. You’ll end up in a better mood and set a better example for the whole family.
No, not alcohol. Water. And lots of it. So often when you’re feeling low energy or feel a headache coming on, you’re just dehydrated. Try to get 8 glasses of water down a day.
Take a breath
Learning to manage your stress is the greatest gift you could give yourself and your family. Before you snap at the kids or your spouse… take a breath. Will this even matter in a week or a year? Try to find one relaxing moment every day to listen to music, do yoga, meditate or just breath.
Go to bed
Mom’s are usually the last ones up at night. The more sleep you get, the better you’ll be able to deal with whatever comes at you tomorrow. Plus, sleep is your best protector from so many chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression. Recharge your energy tank with 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Of course you should be aware of your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Beyond that, here are some exams every mom should have, according to doctors at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System:
- Pap Smear. This is to detect precancerous changes in your cervix. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you don’t have or couldn’t get HPV—or cervical cancer.
- Skin Exam. See a dermatologist. Malignant melanoma is the most common cancer among women 25 to 29.
- Dental Exam. A woman with gum disease has up to a sevenfold higher risk of premature birth. Don’t ignore bleeding gums.
- Thyroid Test (TSH). Half of all women with thyroid disease are undiagnosed. If you’re feeling tired (who isn’t!) or forgetful or gaining weight, it could be hypothyroidism. And if your heart’s racing or you’re having trouble sleeping, it could be hyperthyroidism. Ask the doctor.
- Complete Blood Count. If you’re tired, weak, bruising easily, get a CBC. You may have an infection or anemia.
Time to take care of you. Happy Mother’s Day!