How do you balance self-care while still being the everything to everyone? That seems to ask the age old question women (especially moms) get asked all the time. How do you give to others while still making your own needs are met?
What it really boils down to is the idea of finding balance. I remember being on a business retreat a couple of years ago, and the idea of finding balance when you’re a mom who also runs a business came up. What surprised me was how triggering the word “balance” was for so many of the women there. After a bit of discussion, the group consensus was one of two things. Either “balance means whatever you need it to mean to feel balanced,” or “balance doesn’t really exist.”
I get asked about my own balancing act as a busy mom with busy kids and busy businesses all the time.
My answer usually has something to do with the fact that my own self-care is non-negotiable and I don’t feel the least bit guilt about it. I even wrote a chapter of Love Your Skin, Love Yourself about how self-care is not selfish. So how do I do it? How do I practice self-care without neglecting my kids or my responsibilities?
There are several strategies that work for me, and I am NOT one of those perfect Insta-moms who always has it all together all the time. But I do have part of it figured out, at least for me, and how I do it has become a major tenet in how I live my life, raise my kids, and share my mission. It’s a little bit old school and maybe a bit cliche, but it’s worked for me.
Teach others (your kids, your co-workers, even your spouse!) self-care WHILE you practice self-care.
Teaching is powerful aspect of both the Mother and Priestess Beauty Archetypes. Take my Beauty Archetype Quiz HERE if you haven’t already!
This whole idea all started for me years ago, when I was trying to lose a large amount of post-pregnancy pounds, clear up my skin for good, and also put the brakes on some chronic health issues that had begun to manifest. As I also wrote in Love Your Skin, Love Yourself (which I kind of call my “skin care self-help memoir”), I tried all the conventional diets, worked with a personal trainer, (and am sad to admit that I even tried diet pills) and did not get results.
It wasn’t until I decided to try a plant-based diet that incorporated things like food combining, eating light to heavy, cutting gluten, dairy, and sugar (gasp!), and adding fermented foods that I had my first big challenge with trying to nurture my family AND balance self-care.
I mean, I had a toddler and a kindergartener. And a husband (who happens to be a chef which means he is picky, but works crazy hours so he doesn’t actually do the cooking at home) to consider. Would I have to become a short-order cook and prepare everyone different meals? How could I make them all eat what I needed to eat to achieve my own personal health goals?
I taught them how to shop for and prepare the foods that I needed to eat for my own goals, but that they also liked and were still balanced and healthy to suit the needs of growing children (and an overworked husband).
Yes, they were young. But I took them shopping with me, and treated the experience like the health food store tours I used to give back in the day. I taught them where all the healthy stuff was and why it was healthy, also taught them why some of the other stuff was not a great idea. I let them help me make the shopping list, pick out their own produce, and put what they wanted in the cart (as long as it was on the list).
I had them help me prep veggies, soak grains, and make homemade sauerkraut and kombucha. As I watched shows on Food Network and poured through healthy cookbooks to get flavor inspiration, my kids watched with me and looked at the books with me. To this day, they still watch cooking shows before cartoons.
Was it always perfect? Heck no. Did it take longer than it would have taken me to do it myself? Heck yeah. But the early results were this:
- Kids who rarely got sick (despite attending the slimy, microbial petri dishes known as preschool and kindergarten)
- Kids who understand why certain foods are good for us and others are not
- Kids who were able to make themselves small meals and snacks at a very young age, which took a ton of pressure off me.
- My husband’s severe allergies improved to the point that he no longer needed to take allergy medicine
- I lost 80 pounds and cleared up my skin
Fast forward nearly 10 years (yikes!), and here are the results we have today:
My kids both love to cook and are really good cooks (I post pix of their food often on my Instagram)–better cooks than I am, in fact! These days, I only need to prepare meals once or twice a week. The kids handle the rest both for themselves individually (breakfast, lunch, snacks) and for our family.
- My kids are still ridiculously healthy. When they do get sick, it’s rarely nothing that can’t be handled with herbal teas and homemade chicken soup.
- My kids could handle grocery shopping themselves if they needed to. They understand how to “shop the perimeter” and what to look for when choosing things like meats and eggs. They also understand how to read labels for things that we do buy packaged, so they know how to pick the ones that are the least processed.
- My kids are also both honor students and elite classical ballet dancers who are strong and recover quickly from injuries.
- My skin is still clear and vibrant looking (at nearly 42 years old), and my teenage daughter, who is predisposed to acne (thanks, genetics!) is able to manage it well when she listens to me about her topical routine.
Yes we still eat out from time to time (probably more often than we should–but it’s at places like Whole Foods or quality local restaurants rather than fast food). Yes we still have sweets from time to time and “break the rules.”
For me, healthy cooking was a big stressor, but it is also one of the most important aspects of self-care because without it, there’s no way anyone can look or feel their best.
As I learned to get healthy, I taught my kids. As I learned how to manage my time as an entrepreneur, I taught my kids. As I continued to go back to school for my various certifications, I demonstrated good study habits to my kids and invited them to do their homework with me the whole time. As I continue to fall in love with nature and using plants for skincare and to keep us healthy, I teach my kids what I’m learning, and I invite them to share their own experiences.
We cook together, we clean together, we do “homework” together, and sometimes we exercise together. And we make herbal skin care together.
Because I’ve taught as I’ve learned, many time-consuming parts of my life are now shared. This leaves me with time and energy to practice self-care meaningfully, while still nurturing my family AND giving them the skills and resilience to do the same as they mature.
And I encourage you to do the same, whether it’s with your own kids if you have them, or whatever that looks like for you–your staff, partner, extended family, anyone who you need to nurture in your life.
Do you need help improving your own skin care or self-care practices?
My online course, Create Your Skincare Personal Edition is an AWESOME opportunity to learn how to make all natural, herbal skincare together. It teaches how to choose the right ingredients for your skin whether you’re “of a certain age,” a young teen with acne, or anything in between. You’ll then use those ingredients to make cleansers, toners, exfoliants, masks, moisturizers, lip balms–anything you can imagine!
It’s the perfect way to combine nurturing, creativity, and teaching while working towards your own goal AND empowering your family to practice self-care.
How do you balance self-care and nurturing in your life?
Please share in the comments below!