Carving out time for ourselves gets tricky when we become parents. As a (very) new mom myself, I’m especially curious how others navigate self-care and parenthood. Because it’s very easy to forget ourselves and get overwhelmed. Which is why I decided to start a short series where working moms reveal what works for them.
Today, I’m happy to share my first interview with Anna Osborn. Anna is a therapist in Sacramento, Calif., who specializes in both individual and couples counseling. She’s a mom to 4.5-year-old boy and girl twins.
Below, Anna shares what self-care means to her, a creative way she uses her calendar to prioritize self-care practices, the power of modeling self-care to her family—and much, much more.
Q: How do you approach self-care and what does it entail for you?
A: I approach self-care as a regular and consistent practice, not just one I do when tired or burnt out. As a mom and a psychotherapist, I’m a giver by nature. In order for me to be the best “giver” possible, I also have to work at being an exceptional “receiver.” Otherwise I’m not allowing the natural energy between giving and receiving to flow. The more I value myself, my need to slow down, the need for time to breathe, the more successful I am in my other roles.
On a practical level, self-care is “scheduled” on my e-calendar in pink so I can easily glance at my week and make sure enough “pink” is mixed in with the rest of the tasks and appointments.
I also approach self-care as a mindfulness practice. Whether it’s packing my lunch the night before or slowing down to sit for a moment and look around me, I do it with the intention of showing myself value—that in this moment I’m enough and don’t need to be anything else to be deserving of self-care. It takes practice but it also allows for self-care to be part of daily living.
Q: What are some of the self-care practices that are written in pink on your e-calendar?
A: The pink on my e-calendar is gym; journaling; reading; pedicures; lunch or dinner dates with friends; dates with hubby; etc. I try and put the kids activities in blue so I don’t overload myself in just being “mom.”
It also helps because I can ease the mom guilt by physically seeing how much I do for them when I feel like I’m not (which is actually never the case, but just the head trash that gets loud). I’ve been doing this for about a year and it has been a really cool experience.
Q: How do you navigate the challenge of caring for your kids (and others) while caring for yourself?
A: It is a challenge, but also one that I see the value in taking on. I think it’s important for my kids and partner to see me stepping back and saying I need care too. If I’m quick to meet everyone else’s needs but not my own then I’m not really modeling to them what overall health looks like. Instead I’m modeling to them “everyone else at the expense of me” and I don’t want them moving forward in life with that internal message.
If I keep this at the forefront, then navigating slowing down and caring for me feels in sync with our family values.
Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know about self-care and motherhood?
A: Be cautious about getting into the mindset of “when they’re this age or at this stage, then I’ll do it.” Start slow and steady because learning to ask for help and setting limits around your time and needs is always hard.
The more you practice regular self-care, the more you’re able to tolerate any feelings of “mommy guilt” it brings and really see the value in self-care as a tool to being the best version of yourself possible.
Anna Osborn, LMFT, owner of My Happy Couple, focuses her work on inspiring individuals and couples to be more intentional and connected in their intimate relationship. She works with folks on improving communication, deepening intimacy, healing from betrayal and changing negative patterns of disconnection in their love relationships. More information about Anna and her Sacramento practice can be found at www.myhappycouple.com.
How do you balance caring for kids—or anyone else—with caring for yourself? What works for you? What have you learned? What do you still have a tough time with?