Healthy Mamas = Healthy Families

healthy mother and child

Why Motherhood Martyrdom Is Hurting Our Community

For generations, women have sacrificed themselves to “Motherhood Martyrdom.” Brownie points are earned for extreme birth stories, nights without sleep, lack of exercise, and the number of meals left unconsumed. Self-deprecating, humble brags populate social media. Somehow, we have twisted and misaligned the role of mother to equal an overtired, overworked, overexerted human who cares selflessly for the smallest citizens of our community.

But does motherhood martyrdom benefit anyone? How does our community grow stronger when large segments of our population are barely surviving? How do our families raise empathetic and compassionate children when a core piece of their family is suffering without reprieve?

A woman’s body is biologically designed to give life and nurture life. A mother possesses a unique ability to provide for the needs of her young. But we get off track when we assume that the needs of those she nurtures come before her own. Just as flight attendants insist that oxygen masks be applied to oneself before assisting others, so must mothers care for themselves in order to best care for those in their charge.

Simple self-care will look different for every mother in every stage of life:

Mothers of Newborns – 1 year
For some, an uninterrupted shower and a hot meal will refresh enough for another night of restless sleep with a newborn.
Other ideas for this stage include:

  • A “mommy only” post-bedtime treat
  • A 30-minute walk
  • A warm cup of coffee/tea
  • A regular session with a counselor
  • A date with your partner
  • A girls’ night out
  • 10 slow breaths outside
  • A supportive mothers’ group

NOTE: Partners, family, and friends play a crucial role in this stage. Here are additional ideas for assisting the mother in your life:

  • Set snacks beside her bed for nighttime hunger.
  • Refill her water.
  • Wash dirty clothes and dishes.
  • Make a meal.
  • Encourage alone time and/or friend time.
  • Ask what you can do and DO IT.
  • Validate her feelings.
  • Help her get help.

Mothers of Toddlers
For mothers of toddlers, self-care such as a daily exercise class will strengthen the body as well as the mind, granting sanity amidst toddler temper tantrums.
Other ideas for this stage include:

  • A phone call with a friend in a different season
  • A calming essential oil
  • A regular yoga class
  • A regular session with a counselor
  • A date with your partner
  • A girls’ night out
  • 10 slow breaths outside
  • A supportive mothers’ group

Mothers of Older Children or Children of All Ages
Once past preschool, mothers in the elementary years and beyond might enjoy expanding the above-mentioned ideas!
Other ideas to consider include:

  • Joining a recreational sports team
  • A girls’ weekend
  • A weekly art class
  • A semester of adult ballet classes
  • Volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about
  • Starting a book club
  • Trying something new

Whatever you choose, remember it is only right to pour into the vessel that pours out for so many.

Women who practice self-care in motherhood should be applauded for the investment they are making, not chastised for selfishness. A woman who values the health and well-being of her family understands that her physical, emotional, and mental well-being are of utmost importance. It is time for motherhood martyrdom to be extinguished. Healthy mamas equal healthy families—and healthy families equal a stronger and more vibrant community.

By Lauren Barnes