I am gonna fess up. I don’t keep up with my doctor’s appointments or medical tests. My kids do not miss a single appointment and I make sure we arrive early to each one with a full list of updates and questions for their pediatrician. I’m always on my husband’s case about scheduling and going to his yearly physicals, eye tests, etc. My appointments however…..nope. Let’s just say those are few, far between and not nearly as organized.
Talking to some of my fellow mom friends, mine is not a rare issue. A lot of moms, especially of young kids, find themselves putting everything and everyone before themselves. This is a common thing to expect out of new parenthood, it’s almost a given. When you are a new parent, or about to be, people tell you how about how much is going to change after the baby arrives. This tiny brand-spankin new member of your family is supposed to take up all of your waking and supposed-to-be-sleeping hours, right? And let’s be honest, as moms we often take on more than our share of the responsibilities when it comes to the kids. The problem lies when this extends beyond the wants of the mom and into the needs section of her life. Everything seems to go out the window for a lot of us, and while some things are small and we can probably do without for a while, (manicures, girl’s night out, hair appointments etc,) others are necessities that we begin to neglect.
Health care is one of the things that should be on top of the priorities list for us as parents. Our health is key to being able to properly care for our kiddos and this involves both preventative measures and treatment when we do get sick. I know this, I can say it outloud and probably can tell a new(er) parent in a slightly condescending tone that they need to take care of themselves. But it doesn’t mean I do it in my own life. So why do so many of us value everyone else’s health above our own? Why do we keep putting off our own care until the last possible minute?
For a lot of us child care is a big factor. Have you ever tried going to a dr appointment for yourself with your child (or god forbid the plural version.. children)? It sucks, and often makes us blow off scheduling appointments for ourselves. Problem #2… Supermom Syndrome. Because admitting you’re sick or need help can feel like a sign of failure or defeat.
I am guilty of all this and more, so this is where I ask you do as I say and not as I do. I am working on making my own health and wellbeing more of a priority lately and invite the many Moms I know in similar situations to do the same. Here are a few tools/ideas to help us out.
- Just schedule the appointment. Make the commitment and decide you will somehow make it work. Us Moms are good at problem solving for anything else we encounter so apply it to yourself. If it means Husband has to take a shorter work day, or a family member gets hit up for sitting, do it. If it means scheduling all your appointments (Dentist, gyno, physical, eye exam, etc..) on the same day so you only have to find a sitter one time… do it.
- Before you do get to the appointment, whether you are on your own or dragging a kid along, take 10 minutes sometime before to write down any and all questions or concerns you have about your health. Those little things you notice during a hectic day and think “I should look into this later” and then completely forget about, write ‘em down. Put that list in your purse the second you are finished with it and make sure to bring it up during your checkup.
- This is the one you keep secret. After your appointment is over, take a little detour and do something nice for yourself. Get yourself an iced coffee and walk around target for a half hour… ok, this one is my personal favorite. But anything that is a rare treat is so worth the little fib about how long the appointment took. If you decide your happy place is something like getting your nails done or hair cut, you may have some explaining to do but it will be worth it.
It’s impossible to keep taking care of everyone else without staying healthy yourself, and that includes both physical and mental health. Whatever it is that makes you feel relaxed and happy, make an effort to work it in every now and then. That could mean anything from a yoga class, a massage, a mani/pedi, a workout. A lot of these things can even be incorporated into family time if you don’t always have someone to watch your little ones, or just feel like having them with you. You can bring your kids to a nice walk outdoors or for an ice cream date. Don’t be afraid of letting your family or friends know you need help or support to do this. And kick that mom guilt right out the window. A healthy mom is a happy mom, and that benefits your kids as much as it you.