As a Mom, I Never Practiced Self-Care — Until a Cold Changed Everything

I really don’t know how to slow down, even when I can feel that I really need a break. I just push myself too hard. I know that’s normal, especially when you become a mom. And as a mom that works from home while taking care of my 4-year-old daughter, I have gotten down a routine that works — for the most part.

But one thing that’s not part of my routine? Self-care. Part of my problem is that I suffer from severe mom guilt, so I actually feel terrible taking time for myself even when I know I mentally and physically need it. That’s why, when I recently caught a cold for the first time in YEARS, it was exactly the wakeup call I needed.

A few months ago, within the span of a week, my husband, my daughter and myself got sick. I was the last to get sick after taking care of everyone else. The biggest difference when it was my turn, though? I still had to care for my daughter while kind of taking care of myself, and this illness hit me like a truck. While it is obviously a challenge when you find yourself sick at the same time as your children, one thing was painfully clear: I SERIOUSLY needed to take better care of myself and not wait until I get sick to realize that my health is just as important as anyone else’s.

When I got sick, I realized just how much I needed a break. I was suffering from classic mom burnout, and this was my body’s way of reacting to months of overdoing it. While it was only a cold, I felt completely exhausted, just not like my usual energetic self. It was a slap in the face. I hated feeling like this because it so wasn’t me. But in way, it was a blessing in disguise — because, for around a week while taking time to recover, I allowed myself to do something I never do: Take time to care for myself.

When I can tell that my daughter isn’t feeling well, I give her medicine, make sure she eats well, takes a nap, and just takes it easy in general. I let her cuddle up on the sofa and watch cartoons because I realize that she has to slow things down so she can feel better and get back to her usual self. So why is it so hard to accept that when it comes to taking care of myself, I need — and deserve — the same treatment?

For the week that I was sick, as difficult as it was, I gave myself permission to slow down. I told myself that it was okay to do nothing, and that by doing nothing, I was actually doing a lot; specifically, giving my body the rest it desperately needed. I needed to take care of my mind and body so that I could get back on my feet.

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