From Supermom to Self-Care Advocate: A Journey to Balance and Wellness

As mothers, we often put our own needs last, but self-care is crucial for our emotional, mental physical, and spiritual well-being. In this article, Holly Garcia shares her personal experience of caring for her family while her mother battled cancer and reminds us that not and insights on to find time for self-care, lean on your support system, and enjoy your life while still being a great mom

There’s nothing like awful weather and unexpected school closings to really highlight how much moms everywhere basically run the world. And these past couple of weeks have been no exception. We are the chauffeurs and the lunch packers. We are the appointment makers and the schedule coordinators. We are the chefs and the maids and the… Well, you get the point.

With all the non-stop running around we do for our families, it isn’t a question of when we can find time to get in on a little self-care–but how. How do you find 5 minutes for yourself when literally you’re the main person running the show?

Seriously. Depending on the ages of the small people you’re raising, they rely on you for All. The. Things. You’re the first to get up in the morning to get the ball rolling and the last to go to bed at night after the house has been cleaned up and the dishwasher loaded. I’m just too tired for self-care, you say. All I really want is a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep–does sleep count as self-care?

While taking care of your emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health is all a part of self-care, one good night’s sleep every once in a blue moon does not qualify. Literally, it’s the bare minimum to keep you functioning.

So it begs the question: How does the woman who cares for everyone else find the time to care for herself? Whether it’s pouring back into your own cup or saving your (energy) spoons for yourself–is there really a way to be everything for everyone else and still have anything left for yourself?

Let’s start off by emphasizing how absolutely critical it is to not just make time, but actually practice self-care. Taking time for yourself to catch a breath isn’t just something you should do; it’s something you have to do. How do I know this? Well, I’ve lived it. I’ve run at the speed of lighting, crashed (and burned), but also survived it all to be able to tell you what will happen if you keep choosing to ignore the flashing neon signs you see over every corner of the internet about not taking time for yourself.

Rewind back to March 2019. All is well and good in the world until the day my (otherwise healthy) mom receives a stage IV cancer diagnosis. This wasn’t just cancer; this was cancer in her spinal cord, cancer in her brain–cancer that had already spread to other parts of her body. And honestly, the outlook wasn’t good.

Overnight, I had to explain to my two small children why they wouldn’t see grandma for a while (she would be in and out of the ICU until June). As the oldest of four, I felt responsible for ensuring my brothers and sister were also okay. And as for myself–well, when she got better, that’s when I’d take the time to process and decompress. And that day came–well, sort of.

We finally made it to February 2020. Mom had learned to eat, drink, and stand again on her own. She’d finally finished the rest of her chemo and radiation treatments. Now, I thought, now was the time I could finally relax and settle back into old routines. I could take a deep sigh of relief, knowing that things were finally back to normal. Ha. You don’t need me to tell you how very, very wrong I was.

A lot has transpired since then. We’re coming up on three years since (the worldwide event of which we do not speak) turned every single person’s life upside down. And those of us who didn’t have a strong (or even existent) self-care plan back then can tell you now that we suffered for it.

Things progressively worsened when I didn’t take time for myself, love myself, cherish myself, or relax. Those Saturday morning trips to the grocery store alone didn’t feel like the calm, alone time they did in 2018. Staying up late to watch my favorite period dramas didn’t bring me any joy at all. More than anything–my short patience, unstable mood, and (later on) untreated anxiety and clinical depression made me someone my kids didn’t recognize.

All of this to say, you’re a great mom. But you’re also a human being too. Which means sometimes you have to slow down. The world will not end if you do not finish that chore today.

Sometimes, you will have to lean on your support system and community. I mean, like a heavy lean–a full-on trust fall, if you will. They love you, want to support you, and won’t think any less of you because you ask for help.

You’re a great mom, and you deserve to enjoy your life. Enjoy watching your kids grow up. Enjoy taking an extra long bath in silence. Enjoy writing in your journal about how overwhelming life feels sometimes. And enjoy seeing your kids build forts, play with toys, and basically make the living room look like a tornado just came through.

Because at the end of the day, taking care of yourself so you have the energy to enjoy your life and care for those you love is never the wrong choice.