Mothers, Take Care!

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This Mother’s Day read about some ways busy moms can take the time for some much-needed self-care.

The laundry is piling up. A school lunch still needs to be made. The Diaper Genie is overflowing. For parents, this daily task-list may sound all-too familiar — but even in an egalitarian society, according to studies, these tasks still often fall to mom.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on an average day, more than twice as many women reported doing housework like laundry, cleaning, and other tasks, compared to men.

Look insideKP Northern California sat down with Kate Land, MD, a pediatrician at the Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center and featured expert on Kaiser Permanente’s Thriving Families blog, to explore some ways moms can find time for self-care — in the midst of ever-busy schedules — and how it can benefit the whole family.

Define ‘Having it All’ for Yourself

The phrase “having it all” has become ubiquitous, but it is so highly personalized. I encourage moms to sit down and think about their own personal definition of “having it all.” Think about what makes you feel stressed out. Then think about what you need to do for yourself to feel fulfilled.

For me, I need to exercise, spend time with my tribe of friends, and get enough sleep! It comes back to the basics of paying attention to one’s own health. To be happy and my best self for my family, I need to remember to take care of myself first.

Delegation Is Key

So how do you find the time and space to put yourself first? One word: delegation!

I recommend making a list of everything it takes to keep the household going, and then divide the list among whomever lives in your house, including kids!

But here’s the key: When you delegate, give up control of that task. If you divide up the chores, you can’t criticize the result, like how dad put on that diaper, or how grandma folded the laundry. And this is especially true in the care of infants.

People other than mom can successfully take care of children — grandparents, babysitters — and it’s healthy for kids to learn how to spend time with other adults, too.

Family Work Parties

I’m a big fan of giving transparency into what it takes to run a household, so I love having my kids get involved. More than a chore list, I like to create an environment where kids consistently contribute, like unloading the dishwasher or running a load of laundry. I often do work parties on Saturday — we tackle all the household chores as a team. Even toddlers can help, like putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket.

I stopped making school lunches early on. I made them every morning for years, but I always found it to be an energy zap. One day, my teenager brought home all these lovingly made, uneaten lunches that he had stuffed into his locker. After that, I said, ‘I’m done!’ Now my kids oversee this task. I tell them to make their lunches healthy and balanced — but after that, I let it go!

Visit Kaiser Permanente’s Thriving Families blog to read more empowering parenting tips.

Discussion6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Thank you, Dr. Land – great article and useful tips. In the same vein, Tiffany Dufu recommends that women consider ‘dropping the ball.’ Ms. Dufu was a featured speaker at a recent KP leadership event. She offers simple ways for women to learn how to delegate and say no. Enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=447IQFebe9A

  2. Avatar

    Love this article! It is so true that women run the household and do many more chores than men. I do have my kids make their own lunches and I found they eat better when they make it on their own. For me delegating is hard to do, but I agree that I need my own time because by Friday I am exhausted and done!! Great article for us MOMS.

  3. Avatar
    Catherine Luce

    I have found if my kids make their own lunches that they eat more of what they bring. I also found that when I made the lunches they ate only about 50%. Now I ask them what I can buy at the store so they can make their lunches

  4. Avatar
    Yesenia Santiago

    Absolutely true and completely agree! As moms, we want to control everything happening around us and often find ourselves overwhelmed. We need to learn to ask for help also learn to accept the help.

  5. Avatar

    What a wonderful article and I am pleased to see the advice coming from a pediatrician (Thank you Dr. Land!) and the focus on sharing of responsibilities so that women can have a career, a family and still have time for self-care. When I was raising my family, I used to work a full day and then come home and do what I called my “second job”. I had to choose between career motivators like business travel, attending training and conferences, breakfast and/or dinner networking and my family’s needs. Family took precedence and career often suffered. No regrets – but I observe that the women I work with today who have young children, are still jumping through those same hoops. I hope for them that they can have more support and less negative impact on their career options. Progress!

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