This article was originally published on KSL.com in Motherhood Matters.
I glance at the clock. I still have an hour before my husband gets home from work. Honestly, I’m not sure I can make it 60 more minutes without reinforcements.
The kids are fighting and already hungry. I have no desire to start dinner, no idea what even to cook. With each “mom,” “mommy” and “MOM-AY” I feel such tension — even anger.
Even on good days it’s the space in time between when school ends and when dinnertime begins that is the hardest. I know that how I feel in this moment is not a true indicator of the mother I like to be or the mother I usually am. And then I realize why: I never ate lunch.
I wasn’t angry. I was hangry — anger induced by lack of food. I forgot to feed myself. I fed my children, but not myself.
It was an easy oversight. Their little bums sitting still in their chairs while they ate lunch provided me with a chance to get something (beside eating) done. It was a classic motherhood error: I had not taken care of one of my most basic needs — nourishment — and this was not the first time it had happened, nor was I the first mom to ever let it happen.
It is true: You are valuable to your family and your community. But I wonder, are you valuable to you?
Italian actress and mother Sophia Loren has been attributed with saying, “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” Though I like this quote, I actually think that often as mothers we think twice for our kids — or four times or six times, depending on how many children we have — and forget to even think about us.
However, when we invest in ourselves, we are actually investing in the well-being of our family. There are four areas we can focus on to increase our own investment in our well-being:
1. Invest Time
Take time to make sure your basic needs are met (I, for one, should not let myself go without three meals each day). You could also find time for exercise a couple times a week. Set a bedtime and wake up early.
2. Invest Space
Make little getaways from your children a priority. An afternoon by yourself, a night with old friends, or a movie with your significant other are all important.
I also recommend allowing breaks during the day to decompress or allow for little daily emergencies.
Leave space in your life for your favorite things — like a cold Diet Coke or dark chocolate hidden in the cupboard. You need space and things that are just yours.
3. Invest in Knowledge
Helen Keller calls knowledge “love and light and vision.” Think about the love and light and vision you can bring into your home when you increase your own knowledge.
Read uplifting books. Take community classes. Go back to school. Learn new things.
4. Invest Money
When we are caring for the needs of those around us, it can be so hard to spend money on ourselves rather than on our family. But many things are worth a financial investment; things like a gym membership, educational classes and — dare I say — even a new pair of shoes or tube of lipstick.
You are an investment. Invest in yourself and improve your ability to strengthen your family. Or, at the very least, get through dinnertime with a smile.