Self-Care Is Not Selfish

Today we are featuring an article by fitness coach Jessica Ralston.  She writes about the challenges of taking care of yourself when you are a busy mom of twins.  She is a twin mom with three other children.  If she can find time to take care of yourself, you can too!  We hope her article inspires you to start taking better care of yourself.  You deserve it and more importantly, your children deserve a healthy mom!   You can find her on facebook and instagram.

When we found out we were having twins I think I went into shock. Having two singleton pregnancies (at the time ages 1 and 3), I naturally assumed it would be “just one baby”. My husband and I were stunned. With blank stares, we answered “No, no twins in our family”, then went on to listen to all of the new joys and risks associated with TWO babies. As a toddler mom who also worked full time from home I didn’t do the best job taking care of myself while pregnant. Heck, my husband didn’t do too well taking care of himself either! After they were born at 34 ½ weeks the poop really hit the fan. My parents had my other two little ones for a couple days while I was delivering our identical twin girls, meanwhile my husband ended up in the ER with pneumonia and bronchitis. Just two days later the hospital (for some bizarre reason) sent us home with two 4 lb babies, a sick husband and a very tired mama. I was beyond happy to see my toddlers again, but within a few minutes of being home I felt completely overwhelmed. Just me, my recovering husband, my four kids. I call that year “the dark blur”. We laugh now at some of the insanity that took place within our small home. I also cry when I realize just how scary some moments were. But through it all, we survived. And we even survived through having baby number 5 two years later! It was about 3 months after our last baby was born that I started to wake up, and take a hard look at what our lifestyle had become.

As we emerged from survival mode I noticed we had taken on some very unhealthy habits. Late night trips to the drive through were regular, a meal was never consumed from a sitting position, date nights were long forgotten, ME time didn’t exist… I suddenly got very depressed because it hit me how bad things had become. At the same time, I didn’t feel like I had the energy to fix it. Where should I start? We had very little money, space, time or energy. But I was determined to find a solution. There just HAD to be a way for us to carve out some self-preservation. Where there’s a will there’s a way, right?

I’m happy to say that absolutely, 100% there is a way for every parent to create time for self-care! I started with my physical health. It seemed straightforward. Eat better. Get exercise. I wanted to FEEL great and confident again. I decided to reach out for help and join an online accountability group led by a fellow twin mama. This was totally outside of my comfort zone! But I figured, if she can do it so can I! She guided me through portion control and food group balance. I could still eat all of the food groups and didn’t have to cook anything fancy. I chose a home workout series, that my husband and I did at night together for 30 minutes. I figured, 30 minutes is a sitcom, and I make time for TV so I could make time for this! I started drinking an amazing chocolate flavored dense nutritional shake instead of having a giant bowl of ice cream every night. I took baby steps, swapping out old habits for new. Bit by bit I lost 35 lbs in a year, started a great routine that bonded me to my husband, and finally felt confident and happy. I felt a little like myself again.

The decision to prioritize self-care is one you’ll never regret. I cannot believe how much MORE I can give my family when I care for myself first. It’s too easy to save yourself for last, when everything else gets done. But that is backwards! Fill yourself up FIRST! And starting with physical health was a perfect choice for me. Once I felt better physically, I gained energy and mental clarity to decide what to tackle next. The process of learning to care for myself while creating a healthier lifestyle for myself and my family has been life changing. The hardest part was just taking that first step. I turned myself over to a process and a person that could lead me, encourage me and hold me accountable. I’m so grateful to the person that reached me when I needed it and supported me on my journey; it is now my passion to do the same! Self-care is necessary for every person, but especially for those mama’s who are sustaining two tiny humans. It’s hard in those early years to feel like you can pause, and take time to care for your own body. But believe me, the least selfish thing you can do for your family is to care for yourself!

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