“A man’s work is from sun to sun, but a mother’s work is never done!”. Before all the hardworking dads label me as a feminist, I will clearly state that I do not subscribe to this view. Men don the role of caregiver to perfection in so many walks of life – as doting fathers, grandfathers, brothers, sons and uncles, as caring spouses, as compassionate teachers, and as supportive friends, and we can’t imagine life without them. Dads do more than their fair share of work these days to give their loved ones the good life. Mom is just as special – after all, she is the “Master of Multitasking”!
Until I became a mother, I had known no emotion as strong and as pure as the one that I felt for my children. This truest of all loves changed me forever. It made me realize strengths and vulnerabilities that I didn’t know existed within me until then. “The moment a child is born, a mother is also born.” But being a mom implicitly entails several drastic additions to a woman’s skill repertoire, with no prior training. She learns to become a skilled nanny, effective boo-boo fixer, chef par excellence, artist, mathematician, and grammar expert, to name a few. And all this with little or no sleep! Often times there is also a professional career thrown in there to add some more color to an already diverse landscape of roles and responsibilities. How does she continue to take care of her kith and kin, day after day, month after month, and year after year, 24/7, with no payment other than in pure love (at least we hope so!) without replenishing her own reserves of strength and sanity?
With Mother’s Day upon us, it is a good time to remember, reflect and resolve. Ayurveda says that it is our dharma/responsibility to take care of ourselves, first and foremost. And as moms, on whom the health and happiness of the entire family usually depends, it becomes supremely important for us to prioritize our physical, mental and emotional health before anything else.
Here is a quick list that can help you to make small changes to get back on track or can serve as a good reminder to stay on track, if you’re already taking care of yourself!
Eat a sensible diet that is abundant in fresh, organic fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Eat at fixed times of the day and don’t skip meals to accommodate the routines and needs of the rest of the family. Eat according to your individual mind-body constitution/prakriti and according to the season and in accordance with the state of your digestion. Don’t succumb to the trend of starving yourself or following the latest fad diets in an attempt to lose weight. Three square meals a day are better than snacking through the day according to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda. Drink enough water and keep yourselves well-hydrated as well.
Exercise regularly because you love yourself, not because you hate your body. Adopt and follow a sensible routine for exercise. Some examples of good cardiovascular workouts are brisk walking, running, dancing, playing a game or even taking a cardio class. These should be done on a regular basis. Practicing yoga asanas, pranayama/breathing techniques on a regular basis helps not just in toning, but also in regulating several intrinsic physiological body functions.
“Early to bed, early to rise makes one healthy, wealthy and wise.” Getting your zzz’s in the earlier part of the night ensures that you get a deeper rest that your eyes, skin, hair and sanity will thank you for the next day! Resist the temptation to vegetate for long hours in front of the television after the kids are in bed. Rise earlier than the rest of the family and enjoy some quiet time planning and organizing your day before the din of a regular day starts!
Take some time for yourself to have a regular self-care daily routine/dinacharya. Give yourself a regular abhyanga/self-oil massage as often as you can. Treat yourself to natural herbal facials and hair masks every once in a while. Get a massage!
The mind needs some rest after all that multitasking and activity. Sleep does not guarantee rest to the monkey mind that wants to keep racing from one thought to the other, even during sleep sometimes. Meditation gives you deep relaxation. Studies have conclusively proven that a few minutes of meditation every day improves memory, sleep, cognitive ability, creativity, mood regulation among its many benefits.
Schedule time for relaxing activities on a daily basis. Do whatever it takes to unwind – go for a walk, listen to music, talk to a friend, hang out with your girl pals, take a long shower, read a good book – some exclusive “me-time” will go a long way in helping you take on the rest of your day.
Do what you enjoy. Hobbies are not a waste of time. Indulge in hobbies that make you happy – dance, sew, paint, photography – whatever!
Learn to spend time in solitude and enjoy your own company. You don’t need anyone else to complete you – you are all you need!
Spend some time in service – help another with no personal gain in mind. Helping others in need helps us deflect focus from ourselves and gives us respite from incessantly lamenting our own little problems and making ourselves miserable. Helping another in need is also great karma. You’ll be setting a great positive example for your kids to follow!
Happy Mother’s Day to all you hardworking, talented, beautiful moms and moms-to-be out there! Love yourselves, dream big and believe in your ability to make a positive difference in the world – but start with yourself!
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