Five Signs I’m Not Taking Care of Myself

OK Moms, it’s time to get real. We take excellent, outstanding, superb care of our children almost all of the time. And then the rest of the time we yell at them or do other things we don’t like. But by in large, we are very good mothers doing a really hard job extremely well. But here’s the kicker, we’re not so great at taking care of ourselves sometimes. And that’s where we’re actually failing our kids.

By neglecting ourselves and taking care of others instead, we’re not modeling selflessness, as we might like to believe, we’re actually modeling martyrdom. And it’s no good. I mean do we really want our daughters to grow up and serve up a delicious and nutritious dinner for their families and then go in the other room and cry about how exhausted they are? I don’t think so. We don’t have to suffer to be good parents. In fact, we’re much better parents (and partners) when we’re feeling pampered and privileged, than when we’re on the verge of a mental break down.

This week I realized that over time I have identified several indicators that I’m not taking enough care of myself. I’m guessing some of these are universal, so I’ll share mine, and then you can come up with your own unique list. The idea here is to see the warning signs of a lack of self-care BEFORE things get out of hand, and then to actually take the time, ask for the help, and do what you need to do to take better care of yourself. After all, your children deserve the best version of you, right?

It’s all about self-awareness. So, here are my five signs that I’m not taking enough care of myself:

1) I’m grumpy– When I’m grumpy it’s usually because I’m either too tired, too hungry or too thirsty. When I snap, get easily frustrated, or feel annoyed at everything around me, I know it’s time to take a break, get some food, water and/or rest and reboot. Sometimes I don’t even notice that I’m grumpy until my husband tells me that I’m not being very nice. Luckily, I’m usually not too far-gone and I’m able to hear his feedback as a loving request, rather than a scathing judgment.

2) I’m clumsy– I drop and break things. The other day a glass actually flew out of my hands and exploded all over the kitchen floor in a million tiny shards (of course we were all barefoot at the time) In the past I’ve done things like drop a full container of paint or spilled a bunch of beet juice all over the kitchen counter and floor. This is a reminder to slow down, take more care, get more rest, and to be more intentional as I move through my day.

3) I can’t think straight and I’m on the verge of tears all day— This is clearly an indication of sleep deprivation but can also be a lack of nutrition or hormones. When I forget to take my vitamins it sometimes impacts my mental clarity. And when I’m too tired, I get sad and teary about things that wouldn’t normally bother me. This can also happen to me at certain points in my cycle and can be hormonally driven, so it’s important to have compassion for ourselves when our hormones seem to undermine our emotional stability. It usually really helps me to call a good girlfriend at times like this. Getting some empathy and understanding from a trusted friend can do wonders for my emotional state.

4) I hurt myself– For me this is usually physical, but for you it might also be emotional. When I “accidentally” hurt my body by bumping, bruising, straining, or spraining something it’s a great reminder to slow down and remember my physical limits. I am only human and I need to learn to ask for help! Just before I got pregnant I accidentally cut my finger with a knife and ended up in urgent care with a bunch of stitches. Sure, accidents happen, but take a look at whether there’s a pattern happening here for you.

This can also be emotional, if you find yourself ruminating about things that make you feel bad, you might be hurting yourself emotionally. Do your best to cut it out! Emotional abuse doesn’t help anybody, and your negative self-talk CAN be learned by your children. When I’ve battled negative thoughts in the past, I’ve had to have a no tolerance policy and have forced myself away from thoughts that were hurtful and toward thoughts that are empowering or inspiring.

5) My body feels heavy, slow, and sad— Bodies need exercise. Yes, even yours! I know I’m not getting enough exercise when I feel heavy, slow, and sad. My body loves the jolt of endorphins I get when I do aerobic exercise REGULARLY. Sure, I might feel “too tired” to go for a run, but when I get into a regular exercise routine, I really do feel more energetic and happier. We all have our excuses why we can’t get to the gym, but in a choice between an unhappy mom and a happier mom, your kids will always choose a happier mom, even if it means being away from you for an hour a few times a week (or better yet, every day). Go to that yoga class you’ve been missing, you have my express permission to pamper yourself.

When I realize that one of these things is happening, I slow down, take some time to reflect on my most urgent needs, and then make a plan to meet them. Sometimes that looks like a catnap on the couch while my daughter is playing nearby. When I was pregnant it meant rearranging my entire workday so that I could have an early afternoon nap every single day. Other times it means I leave the house early in the morning to get my work out in. One more thing, don’t underestimate proper nutrition as a contributor to your exhaustion and/or frustration either. Take stock of your intake of caffeine, sugar, and whole foods, as well as exercise and sleep.

So now is your chance to create your own list of signs you’re not taking care of yourself. I hope you’ll do so now and then share them with us! Together, we can learn to take better care of ourselves and as a result we’ll teach our children that our wellbeing is important to us. I know that’s a lesson I REALLY want my daughter to learn.

Have a beautiful week, Shelly


I agree with most of what you've listed here, and I have a few others:


- reaching for my "crutches" - for me these are caffeine and chocolate. When I'm in a good place, I can enjoy a square of chocolate with my tea after the kids are in bed. If I find myself reaching for the chocolate in the middle of the day, I know it's because I'm stressed out and getting close to the edge.


- obsessing over the little stuff - when FB comments drive me to tears it's time to walk away and calm down NOT to post a scathing response!


- taking everything my kids say personally. When I get angry because Miss 5 observes that Daddy does it differently, or that the chicken has crispy bits around the edges - I know I'm overdoing it. I know that kids notice things and talk about everything, and I want them to keep doing so! My "good self" knows this is the case - my stressed-out self tends to take it all as criticism.


- forgetting things. Walking into a room and forgetting why I was there, leaving my keys on the table and forgetting where I put them. I think this is my mind shutting down to prevent overload, and a sign that I need to slow down and create more time/space in my life. On a bad day I just get more angry with myself, but I need to recognize this for the stress marker that it is.


I couldn't have said it better myself Shelly. As moms, we always want the best for our kids, but a lot of times we forget that that means modeling how they should treat themselves. It can be difficult though because when we do for ourselves, we feel as if we're taking away from our kids. Thanks.


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