I looked at the clock. It read 9:45 am. I had been up for nearly 5 hours, and ran 6 miles, did laundry, chased after kids, made beds, picked up toys, washed dishes, cleaned the kitchen, and scrubbed two bathrooms. I checked item after item off of my To Do list and was feeling quite proud of myself.
Except for one tiny thing.
I had been up for nearly 5 hours and didn’t realize until 9:45 am, that I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet.
In my hurry and preoccupation, I failed to take care of one basic need. Yet how often as mothers, is this not our reality? How many times do we miss a meal, stay up late to finish wrapping Christmas presents or folding laundry, refuse to “sleep when baby sleeps”, or skip a workout because we’re too busy checking off things on our To Do list?
How many times do we neglect self-care?
Ok, first I should admit that this passage is speaking specifically of honoring God with your bodies by refraining from sexual sins. But I think that this passage can extend to so many aspects of our bodies.
Your Body is a Gift
Our bodies are a gift. In fact, they’re not really our bodies; they belong to God. As the above passage says, you were bought at a price. Everything belongs to our Father: our money, our possessions, our children, and yes, our bodies. Most of the time, we can recognize certain things as gifts and will properly respect them and take care of them. But often, we forget one of our most treasured gifts is our own bodies! The Father gave you your body to honor and take care of, and that means, sometimes, the items on your To Do list have to wait in order for you to meet the basic needs of your body (e.g. eat breakfast).
In his amazing love, Our Heavenly Father gives us blessings to enjoy and take care of during our time here on earth. And when we change our view of what are bodies really are, perhaps that can change how we take care of them.
Take Time for Self-Care
As moms, it’s so very easy to ignore our own health. We worry more about what our children eat and how much they sleep than we do for ourselves. We run around fixing a healthy breakfast, getting our kids dressed, brushing their teeth, giving them vitamins, making sure they drink something, etc. Before you know it, it’s noon and you haven’t eaten. (Maybe you were lucky and got a cup of coffee. That went cold. And you drank it anyway.) A mother should put her children’s needs first, but we cannot neglect our own health. Remember, our bodies are a gift just as our children are, and not taking care of our bodies is not taking care of a blessing from God.
In order for you to be able to take care of everyone else, you need to take care of yourself first. Think about when your on an airplane. When the flight attendant talks about the oxygen masks, what is the first rule they tell you? Put on your own mask before assisting others. Because you can’t help anyone if you’re passed-out from lack of oxygen! The same is true for taking care of our families. You are no good to your family if you’re constantly run-down, sick, out of shape, or stressed out.
More is Caught than Taught
Taking time for you health is not a sin, and it is nothing to feel guilty about. In fact, I think it’s imperative because of the message it sends our children. Our children learn more by what we do than what we say. I can harp on my kids to eat their veggies, but the message is stronger if I eat my veggies. (Bonus point if I do it with a smile on my face and some gusto.) I can try and force my kids to go to bed early, or take a nap, but the message is stronger when I do those things myself. Modeling an active lifestyle shows kids that exercise and activity aren’t horrible actions to avoid, but rather fun things to incorporate into my life. And let me tell you, doing yoga with kids is a hoot. Smiling at my kids as I finish a race is one of the best feelings.
Kids see these things, and the message is a strong one: My health is important. My body is important. I’m worth taking care of. Kids learn their priorities from the parents, and this includes how they view and take care of their bodies.
Take time for your health. Go to bed early. Take 10 minutes to eat a decent breakfast. (And the leftovers on the kids’ plates don’t count.) Set aside 20 minutes to do something active, and let your kids see you do it if you can.
Our bodies are temples, temples that belong to our Heavenly Father. It’s our responsibility and privilege to take care of these amazing gift we’ve been given!