By Diane Hwang
‘Self-care’ is a topic that gets a lot of attention within circles of moms these days, and for good reason. While taking care of ourselves is fairly easy when we only have ourselves to take care of, it proves to be a lot more challenging once we throw children into the picture and begin sacrificing all of our time and energy into raising them.
After we had our second child, I thought I was taking care of myself well enough, doing all the right things, and checking off all the ‘Mom’s Guide to Self-Care’ boxes (if there ever was such a list out there). I enjoyed periodic nights out with girlfriends, I was getting 7+ hours of sleep every night, I was eating fairly well, and I had plenty of time every evening to unwind with my husband after we put the kids down for their early bedtime.
While everything looked great at a first glance, I couldn’t ignore the fact that I was going to bed feeling absolutely drained and overwhelmed every night. No matter how much sleep I got the night before, I was constantly irritable and running on empty fumes from the moment I woke up to the moment I crawled into bed at night, and my constant bad attitude was weighing on my family and negatively impacting the atmosphere of our home.
As I laid in bed one night trying to fall asleep after another day of impatience with my children and snappy remarks towards my husband, I decided enough was enough and I asked God to show me what I was missing. It was in that moment and in the days that followed that the Holy Spirit began to reveal the real reason for my lack of energy and endless irritability – I was getting really good at escaping from the stressors of daily life in the name of “self-care”, but I wasn’t actually drawing near to God for real and lasting refreshment.
In Jeremiah 31:25, God promises to “refresh the weary and satisfy the faint” and I realized that while my checklist for self-care was important, it was all for nothing if I wasn’t first finding rest and refreshment in the only One who can truly provide it.
Once I recognized that I had completely left God out of my self-care regimen, I examined how I was spending my time and I discovered that I had a lot more time available to spend time with Him than I thought. While the hours I spent on social media and watching my favorite show on Netflix appearedto be an effective way to relax and unwind, I was actually using that time as a temporary and fruitless escape from my responsibilities as a busy mom.
It became clear that I needed to take charge of the time I had each day. Instead of squeezing in time to read my Bible between episodes of Gilmore Girls or hours of scrolling through Instagram, more out of obligation than desire, I needed to carve out intentional time to spend in the Word and in His presence…otherwise I knew things would never change.
In an effort to keep God at the forefront of my self-care, I made the following changes:
#1: Quiet time every morning
-Instead of sleeping in until the kids got up, I started waking up an hour earlier to enjoy God’s Word (and my coffee!) without any distractions.
-As I’ve done this, God has faithfully breathed His life into me through His Word so that I’m beginning the day with not just a full cup, but an overflowing cup.
#2: Doing something that I enjoy during “naptime”
-Instead of spending two hours vegging out and surfing Netflix while the kids take their afternoon naps, I started using at least half that time to do something that actually leaves me feeling refreshed, like curling up on the couch to read a book.
-As I’ve done this, I’ve been able to head into the second half of the day feeling rested rather than exhausted.
#3: Setting aside time to exercise and move my body
-Instead of scrolling through social media for a good hour or two in the evening, I’ve committed 30-60 minutes of my day, several days a week, to exercise while listening to my favorite worship songs.
-As I’ve done this, not only have I felt more energized during the day, but I’ve been sleeping better at night and all the while enjoying time to worship and connect with God.
Through this process, I learned that self-care is important—getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising and making time for the hobbies we love are all necessary and verygood for us, but we must be careful to not neglect our relationship with God in the process. When we prioritize our time with God, our homes are transformed by His presence and our relationship with Him becomes the solid foundation for all of our self-care efforts. Our commitment to lean into God bears great fruit as He empowers us to care for our families from a place of overflow.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
(John 15:4-5 NLT)
Diane and her husband have been married for three years and are raising their two small children in the rainy, but beautiful city of Seattle. After years in sales, Diane is enjoying her life as a stay-at-home mom and volunteers at her local church while her husband begins his new career as a police officer. She’s a lover of coffee, fresh mountain air, quality time with family and friends, and the Pacific Northwest. Check her out on Instagramand Facebook!