I love Mother’s Day. It’s a bit of pampering and sweet crafts from my babies. It means I don’t cook at all that day and I really love that. Mother’s Day is a major emphasis on the love and work of a mother and it comes just once a year. Once. A. Year. The work and love of a mom is 24/7, just sayin’. There are thank you’s, hugs, and moments of recognition throughout the year, of course, but THE day is just once in May. I appreciate the day, don’t get me wrong, but I need a bit more.

The truth is my kids aren’t going to make me a craft every day and they aren’t going to praise my mothering at every turn. My husband is not going to give me a card every day thanking me for being a great mom. The sweet little notes and treats that I received leading up to Mother’s Day is not going to be a year round thing. My children and my husband are not responsible for the care and feeding of me – I am.

One of my responsibilities as a mother is self-care. Is it selfish to pursue self-care? No. You feed your kids so they can grow. You wash the clothes so they have clean clothes. You instruct and teach to develop them into the people they are meant to be. You clean the house so that germs and dirt don’t take up permanent residency. You practice self-care so that you can mother well. It’s really that simple.

The care and feeding of you is one of the most important items on your to-do list. Here’s some things to include in your self-care regimen.

-Feed your soul.

I can’t mother on my own and when I try I fail. I can’t end up on empty because I lash out and frustration seeps into e v e r t h i n g I do and say. I must stay connected through prayer and scriptures to the one who made me for this job. If he made me, surely he knows what I need to do this job well, with a joyful heart. I can trust him and lean on him. He is there every day of the year, at every moment, encouraging me with his unfailing love and all that is required of me is that I take the time to feed my soul.

-Pursue that which fulfills you.

What do you love to do, outside of mothering, that fulfills you? Are you an artist, a gardener, a seamstress, a chocolate connoisseur…wait, that’s not a real thing?? Oh. Do you enjoy crafting, cooking, accounting, shopping, learning? Whatever it is, find a way to pursue it. Pursuing fulfillment will look different at different stages. In an intense mothering stage pursuing art looks like coloring in your adult coloring book, painting with the kids or going to the museum for date night. At a less intense stage, maybe it means taking an art class, setting up an etsy store or teaching an art class. At any and every stage you must pursue that which fulfills you. I once said that a well-crafted paragraph is more important than a clean kitchen and there are days when this must be true. There are times when you must buy the pastels, you must dig in the dirt or you must write – don’t ignore those promptings.

-Take time for friendship.

One of the ways I take care of me is by pursuing friendship. There’s something about being understood that melts my stress. There’s something about laughing with friends and finishing sentences about grown up topics that fuels me. I need other people. It’s a nice reminder that I am funny or that I have valuable things to say other than mediating the argument over legos. I am a better mom when I make time for friends. Time with friends helps feed the parts of me that get overlooked when I am full-on mothering.

-Love your body.

Motherhood is tough on a woman’s body. Long days and long nights. We are on our feet a lot. Some of us gave birth to our babies and some of us adopted but either way our bodies take a beating. Love yourself well. Exercise. Eat well. I realized at one point that I had told myself that the fruit I bought was for my kids. That is a lie! So now I eat fruit too. Take a walk, do yoga, take a long bath, get a pedicure, take a nap, and buy the yummy smelling lotion. It’s all good for you! Your body has done and continues to do amazing things so be sure to love your body.

Every day needs to be a day that you find a way to practice self-care. The days will come when the house is a disaster, the principal calls, the little one is sick and you just burned dinner BUT if you are practicing self-care you will have a bit of a reserve. You won’t be on empty. If you are caring for your whole self perhaps a full on melt-down won’t be necessary. Here’s the important thing to remember – When I practice self-care, I care not only for myself but my children and my husband. When I am not disciplined in caring for my whole self, it effects us all.