How to Balance Self-Care vs. Caring for Your Family

Self-care. It’s one of the popular buzzwords in the realm of Mommy Blogs. But – while so many people tell you the importance of it and ways you can self-care – there is very little out there to tell you how to balance self-care against taking care of your spouse and/or children.

So here you go: the Chaotic Life edition to the debate.

How should Christians mothers balance self-care with taking care of family? | Christian Motherhood | Christian Lifestyle | Christian Responsibility | Homemaking | Self-Care | Rest | Managing Emotions

Balancing Self-care vs. Caring for Your Family

Can I just stop for a moment? Why is searching for self-care ideas even a thing? Maybe I’m unique, but my list of fun ideas to preoccupy myself is pretty extensive by itself. However, when it comes to giving myself a break, I’m going to choose an old favorite:

  • Reading a book/manga
  • At home spa day (does thirty minutes count as a day?)
  • Walking into a gas station to get something delectably sugary and carbonated to drink. (Hey! Don’t laugh. Going to the gas station can be a chore with a child in tow, so I relish these few moments that I’m child-free and can move unhindered.)

If I want to try something new, I’m not going to look for it under a self-care blog post. I’m going to think, “What do I want to try? Sewing? Crochet? Baking? Let me spend forty-five minutes looking at things that I’m never actually going to follow through on.” And I feel blissful and refreshed after doing this.

All of this has a point. When we’re pursuing self-care, we need to make sure we’re not overdoing self-care. We can do this by:

#1 – Check Your Self-Centeredness

Listen, I’m not knocking self-care. I’ve said that self-care is important plenty of times already on Chaotic Life. Self-centeredness is just a pitfall that comes along with putting too much emphasis on the self. Even self-analysis, my favorite tool for personal growth, can lead to this pitfall.

You see, self-centeredness is a problem for Christians in their faith. When we are called to love God with our all – heart, strength, mind, and soul – there isn’t any room left for self. Self-centeredness takes our eyes off of God and His will for us. It stops us from growing and moving forward in our faith.

Please note, I’m not saying that self-care is selfish. Selfishness seeks to better oneself or to grant a desire at the expense of another. Selfishness is when a child takes the last ice-cream bar knowing that their sibling will also want it.

While self-centeredness goes hand-in-hand with selfishness, the real danger is in creating obliviousness. You stop seeing past yourself. You become the small child that unknowingly cuts somebody off in the grocery store. And you stop seeing God.

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Self-centeredness also becomes the breeding ground for sin. In this case, reading through self-care advice can lead you to envy the women who seem able to do more to take care of themselves. It’s easy to think, “If only my child was a little more independent, or if only my kids didn’t destroy the home if left unattended.” That, my dear Busy Mom, is one step from resentment.

These are all possible, but hypothetical, scenarios. I don’t want to scare you into not doing nice things for yourselves. All I’m saying is, if you’re trying to balance self-care vs. caring for your family, you need to first ask yourself, “Am I focusing a little too much on myself?”

If you need to rest – and we all do because it’s commanded by God – then you’re good. If you feel a little zing of nastiness in your chest when you think about the question, you might want to do some praying as you examine the heart of your desire.

#2 – Cultivate an Attitude of Service

If you’re used to having everything and being able to do everything, then you’re going to crave self-care more than others. Why? Because learning to serve others is a discipline that takes practice. Learning to deny self and to live humbly? That takes discipline, too.

You see, we talk about taking care of her family like it’s a bad thing. While most days I want to pull my hair out while dealing with my daughter, there are a lot of really fun or amazing moments from being her full-time caretaker. I get to watch her sense of wonder as she tries to figure out the flying flowers (butterflies) or hears a woodpecker. And while I get tired of reading Mr. Brown Can Moo 3x a week, I also knew exactly how to soothe my daughter’s fears during the giant storm last week because we’ve read that book so much.

I’ve learned to see how small acts of service impact somebody else’s life for the better. That makes it fun. Fun makes it addictive.

Because I’ve cultivated this attitude of serving my family, it’s not something I want a lot of breaks from. Just as long as I get a break.

If you feel like you want to escape from your family more than you want to be with them on most days, then you have a problem. It’s time to dig deep and ask yourself, “Why am I so stressed? Where is my joy in this?”

Some tips:

  • Learn to manage your to-do list for more effective time organization.
  • Learn strategies to stay calm during the chaotic times.
  • Be intentional about your time with your family. Tell yourself, “For this period of time, I will be with my children.” Devote however much time you are able.
  • Look for ways to make memories with your children. Remember, sometimes it’s the small things they remember most.

#3 – You Need More Self-Care Some Weeks than Others

This is a truth that I need to get through my own thick-skull. Some weeks I need more time to rest and relax than others. That is okay.

If you’re feeling more drained than usual, if you’re struggling with your emotions more than usual, or if you just feel weird, it is okay to take some more time to yourself. You don’t have to keep a perfect home. You don’t have to do everything with your children. You’re not the only one who can cook. (If nothing else, there’s always McDonalds!)

How should Christians mothers balance self-care with taking care of family? | Christian Motherhood | Christian Lifestyle | Christian Responsibility | Homemaking | Self-Care | Rest | Managing Emotions | Quote

Do what you need to do to rest. If you can learn this skill of listening to your body, then I promise you that you’ll be much better off. When we don’t give ourselves that extra time off when we need it, then we end up feeling even more burnt out and exhausted. Then, when we finally do stop to rest, we’ll need even more time to recover.

Put simply, delayed self-care has a very heavy interest rate on it. So don’t miss your balance due date!

#4 – Don’t Make Self-Care a Habit

“Wait – what?”

I know, it’s confusing. I’m trying to tell you to do make time for self-care, but don’t turn any one thing into a habit. It’s been proven that we don’t place as high of a value on the things that we’re used to having. If you buy a latte every single day of the week, you’re not going to enjoy it as much as if you keep it as a rare treat.

So whatever you’re planning on doing as special treat for self-care, don’t make that a daily event. That turns it into a habit. Pretty soon it will be something that you expect in your schedule instead of something that makes you feel all pampered, special, and rested.

Let’s Draw a Distinction Between Self-Care Needs and Wants

And while we’re at it, let’s stop lumping everything into self-care like it’s all the same thing. Hair cuts are a necessity. Plucking eyebrows is a necessity. Showers, cutting fingernails, shaving, face lotion? Those are all necessities.

You see, those are the things that should truly be under self-care. In fact, those things should be under a non-negotiable list of things for you. It’s basic healthcare and upkeep so you can stay in touch with your human side.

If you’re looking for a blog post to tell you to do those things, then here you go:

Stop reading posts you find on Pinterest and go spend some time on you.

How should Christians mothers balance self-care with taking care of family? | Christian Motherhood | Christian Lifestyle | Christian Responsibility | Homemaking | Self-Care | Rest | Managing Emotions | Quote

There are ways to make it work. Leave me a comment if you need help figuring out how to manage a small baby and/or toddler for this. I’ll help you.

As for the wants? All those fun things that people list for self-care? This is what I’m talking about limiting.

#5 – Rest in God

Somebody recently reminded me that learning to rest in God is the best self-care habit you can have. You see, I have an entire post dedicated to resting, yet it never even occurred to me to highlight this fact. I’m remedying that now.

As part of living an unbalanced life as Christians, it should be expected that our idea of self-care will be a little bit different than the average mommy blogger’s idea of self-care. Resting in God is how.

What would be your answer if I asked you, “What is the ultimate goal of self-care?” I’m going to guess you would respond:

  • “To feel better about myself.”
  • “To not feel so tired.”
  • “To let me enjoy my family again.”

In all honesty, aren’t we just looking for peace in our lives?

But the Bible teaches us that peace is a gift that comes alongside the Holy Spirit in our lives (John 14:25-27). If we want to access that peace, we need to learn to stop stifling the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This can be achieved by learning to rest in God.

So how do you rest in God? You:

In short, you spend time worshiping Him. I know, I make it sound so simple. That’s because it truly is.

You don’t need coloring pencils to color in your Bible, and you don’t need to know Greek. You just need to be willing to respond.

I promise you, God will meet you wherever you are in whatever means He is able. I know this because I also know that God has a desire to speak with you.

Resting in God is a discipline that has to be practiced. However, the great news is that it is also one that you can learn to practice right alongside the rest of your family.

Concluding Thoughts

Can I be honest? I don’t have a clue what happened with this post. I cringed when I saw the topic in my editorial calendar and I thought, “Well, that will be 800 words long.” Then I started writing, and kept writing, and finally finished the first two points.

My first instinct when I finished writing this was that I had completely veered off topic in some God-inspired word vomit. But after a casual readthrough I am convinced that this is really how Christian mothers can balance self-care with caring for their families.

Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.

How should Christians mothers balance self-care with taking care of family? | Christian Motherhood | Christian Lifestyle | Christian Responsibility | Homemaking | Self-Care | Rest | Managing Emotions

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More about Lauren C. Moye

Lauren has had a lifelong passion for both writing and for helping people. Once upon a time, she would have laughed if somebody suggested she write nonfiction to achieve those goals. A couple of years ago, she would have scoffed if somebody suggested she write for her peer groups. Today she's writing to "HELP BUSY CHRISTIAN MOMS MANAGE LIFE."

7 thoughts on “How to Balance Self-Care vs. Caring for Your Family

  1. Christin

    “You see, self-centeredness is a problem for Christians in their faith. When we are called to love God with our all – heart, strength, mind, and soul – there isn’t any room left for self.”

    I found the above quote from this post a bit troubling, honestly. My reason is that the very next verse in the passage you referred to says that the next greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourself. If true love of God leaves no room for self, then there is also no room for neighbor either. Otherwise, how could you love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself if you don’t even have a self? If loving our neighbor is an expression of our love for God (and I believe it is), then loving ourselves – appreciating the value we have as children of God and bearers of his image – is also an expression of our love for God. If we hate his image, or completely ignore its existence, how is that loving God? It is because we are children of God, made in his image, that we are deserving of self-care. This is very different from selfishness, as you pointed out. But the idea that loving God whole-heartedly erases our own “self” is not a healthy or biblical idea. According to this logic, self-care is never needed since the self doesn’t even exist.

    Reply

    1. Lauren C. Moye

      Hi Christin! Thank you for the comment. I can see why you might find it contradictory, but I don’t think what I wrote was wrong. Before I respond, I would really like to ask, “How do you interpret loving the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength?” More specifically, does all have a limit?

      First, I never said that the self stopped existing nor that we couldn’t also love ourselves and others. That’s taking my quote to an interpretation that isn’t even consistent with the rest of this post nor anything else on Chaotic Life. I agree that the concept that “erasing our self” isn’t Biblical, but it also isn’t Biblical to expect the focus on self to be same both pre-Christ and post-Christ. Who we are is transformed by God, the Bible, and the refinement of our souls. Some examples: We are told to act with humbleness, told to put ourselves last so that we can become first, and are also told to consider other’s burdens as more important than our own. Paul writes about being a slave for Christ, which means by definition of slavery that his own body or self is no longer his own property. In addition, our selves are joined by the presence of the Holy Spirit and we become a member of the entire body of Christ. While we retain our respective selves, we are told to function with completely unity in Philippians and to be “of one mind.” This only happens if we allow God to transform our selves into something that is more like Him. I’m trying not to talk down to you because I think you are intelligent, so please let me know if I need to explain this point more completely.

      Second, the sentence you took issue with needs to be read in the context of the entire section anyways, which was about self-centeredness or focusing on ourselves. I admittedly omitted “-centeredness” at the end of the sentence because the extra hyphen would have made the aside more difficult for readers to pick out if they were skimming the content. Not very many people are good multitaskers. If we’re focusing on God (love the Lord with all your mind), then we cannot be focusing on ourselves.

      This is a complete aside because I don’t have time to write out all of this, but it might make an interesting study for both of us. While we’re speaking about context, it’s also important to study the context of the Bible Passage in question. Both the “Love the Lord with your all” and the “love your neighbor” passage originate in the OT. The first that I mentioned is in Deuteronomy and the second is in Leviticus. These commands were NOT originally linked. So there are some questions that need to be answered. How would the Hebrew people originally have interpreted these commands and taught them to their children? Why did Jesus choose to link these? Did it have anything to do with his listeners at the moment?

      Third, my own faith journey is about trying to live in obedience to God’s commands. One of the early stages (keep in mind that I was a young child) was about learning to see things more like how God sees them. That included both myself and others. I loved God and wanted to become more like Him. God loved both me and others. That meant that I needed to learn to love both myself and others like God loved me as well. Do I always succeed at this? No. But my point is that my love for God is the source of my love for myself and others. When I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength then I am better able to fulfill that second commandment.

      Reply

  2. Flor

    I am a mom to a three years Old girl and a 3 months baby boy, it is very chaotic over here and I’m not sure I’m doing it right. Most of the time I’m crying and trying to keep on moving til bedtime comes. I want time out all the time, I don’t have energy to have a shower most days, not to mention shaving or doing my hair. I know I’m a failure, but it so hard for me to have joy in my life as a mom and wife, you were right about us wanting peace, true peace. Can you tell me how to rest in God and enjoy life?

    Reply

    1. Lauren C. Moye

      Flor, the newborn stage is rough. Your family is still adjusting to the new member (congratulations by the way!) and your hormones are probably still a mess. I’ve written several things about finding peace and enjoyment in life. I’ll link to those in just a moment.

      To start with, the fact that you’re talking about not having energy is a huge red flag. Your body is telling you that something is wrong. Ignore everything else right now. Pushing yourself past your limit all the time will only make things worse in the long run. Work on resting when you can (I know, it’s difficult), but also try to relax your days more by: 1) avoiding power struggles with your children, 2) cutting down the to-do list to the bare minimum, 3) add the little things into your day that make things pleasant. Even now, I’ll set aside my phone and pretend that the house isn’t a giant mess so that I can focus just on enjoying silly games with my daughter. If we’re both having a blah day, I stream music from free services like Spotify or Pandora just to brighten it up.

      You might also need to look into vitamin supplements or consider if birth control (if you are taking any) is effecting your emotional balance.

      Work on showering and brushing your hair. When we dress for a chaotic day by not taking care of ourselves, that’s often exactly what we’ll get. I know it sounds silly, but try to dress yourself like you’re going out. My daughter (who is a little younger) sits on the bathroom counter with me as I do hair and some light make-up each day. It keeps her out of trouble and makes it easy for me to chat to her, which fills her need for attention as well.

      Finally, resting in God happens when we make that mental shift to thinking, “You first, God.” I don’t mean that you have to read devotionals or pray first thing in the morning. It means that you prioritize the spiritual need to pray or to reflect Christ in your life before some of the physical needs (like cleaning house). It’s a day-long acknowledgement that Jesus is Lord over our lives, and very little matters besides that. Building faith habits is a very good place to start in truly adopting this attitude. Try reading a Psalm every day, even if you have to read it outloud to your children to fit it into the chaos. You should also try to find prayer time for yourself. Praying outloud before meals is a good place to start. Beyond blessing the food, try thanking God for good things that have happened that day or praying for close family and friends. Ask God to help you find peace and rest in your life. When/if your children have down-time together, seize the opportunity to spend a few minutes in prayer before you also rest. (For me, prayer is way of resting.) It doesn’t have to be anything grand; the more real you are about what you’re feeling and going through, the better, anyways. You just need a starting point. I promise you that God, through the Holy Spirit, will meet with you. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of time before we work through the chaos enough to listen.

      I’ll be praying for you. Please reply back or email me (laurencmoye@chaoticlifeoflauren.com) if you need somebody to talk to you in greater detail about these things.

      Reply

    2. Christin

      Flor, I know I am commenting months after you posted your comment and I hope you are feeling better now than you were then. What you described sounds exactly like post partum depression. I had PPD after my daughter was born earlier this year and it was brutal. I felt like an utter failure as a mom, cried all the time, and just wished for every day to be over as soon as I’d woken up. I saw my doctor and she prescribed an antidepressant which has helped me significantly. I have also been seeing a Christian psychotherapist on a weekly basis since April. She has been a wonderful help to me. If you are still struggling with the emotions you described in August, please seek help. I had to have my husband call the therapist the first time because I felt so ashamed to be so depressed. But it truly isn’t anything to be ashamed of. You are doing nothing wrong. Your kids need you well, and you need to be well for your own sake. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help. Postpartum depression is NOT a spiritual problem! Hugs to you, brave mama. I really do hope you are feeling better by now. And if not, things WILL get better.

      Reply

  3. Cora

    Thank you so much, Lauren! I feel convicted of my self-centeredness, gently reminded that I need to be disciplined about my own basic needs as a human, and nudged to be faithful to rest in God and worship Him throughout every detail in the day!

    Reply

    1. Lauren C. Moye

      Cora, thank you so much for your comment. I am so honored that God used my words to speak to you. Be careful though – habits are hard to both change and create. If you want to act on your conviction, look for the tiny steps that you can take so that you don’t get completely burnt out.

      Reply

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