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Taking Care of Number One

I often say that “mother” is not only a noun, but also a verb. It is not only something that we are, but something that we do.

Mother (verb): to care for or protect

So, as mothers, we are doing all of the time. We are caring. We are protecting. Or we are worrying or planning or cleaning up after or something. ALL OF THE TIME.

Every once in a while, mothers need to be cared for as well.

As a therapist, I realize the importance of balance and prioritizing self-care. As a mother, I’m working on it! My dear friend Kathy recently reminded me that the old adage “sleep when baby sleeps” is very important; try to get some sleep in or at least do something for yourself during that time. In my recent adjustment from being a parent of one to a parent of two, I’m still working on this. On days when my older child is home (he is 4 and does not nap), this often means spending one-on-one time with him. Whether it’s reading a book, riding bikes, or playing Transformers for the millionth time, I know he loves that special time when I’m only focused on him (and he misses that we used to do it all the time!) On days when my son is at preschool I try to squeeze in activities I love – getting out into the garden or working out mostly. These little glimpses of normalcy in life are what keep us balanced and allow us to be more present when we are spending time with our child(ren). If you are trying to fit in something during nap time, please remember to do this thing immediately after putting your child down. If you hop on the computer you might get sucked down the wormhole. If you do one chore, it might lead to another chore and another and then baby will be awake and your special time is gone!

If prioritizing yourself is difficult right now, start with the goal of doing one thing each week for yourself. It can be something you can do at home while a little one sleeps, or it can be something that requires someone else to care for your child. Read a magazine, do a crossword puzzle, get creative in the kitchen, throw some weights around, soak up some vitamin D for twenty minutes, get a pedicure (or give yourself one) – anything that helps you feel like you’re doing something for YOU!

While mothering involves utter selflessness and pure dedication to another human being, please recognize that we cannot take care of others well if we ourselves are not nourished. Make sure to share that tidbit with your partner too! I hope you all take a moment on Mother’s Day to stop, look around, be thankful for what you have, and also to indulge yourself a bit (maybe by slathering on the luxurious body butter in the below recipe!).

Happy Mother’s Day!

Gratitude Salad

Whipped Body Butter
  • 1/2 cup Shea Butter
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Oil
  • ¼ cup light liquid oil (grapeseed, jojoba, or sweet almond oil)
  • Optional: 1 tsp. Vitamin E oil (can be squeezed from capsules)
  • Optional: fine Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (for added mineral content)
  • Optional: 10 drops of your favorite essential oil (try to avoid citrus as it may make your skin more sensitive to the sun). Lavender can aid in relaxation or peppermint can be invigorating.
  1. Place glass measuring cup inside a saucepan with a few inches of water in it. Add shea butter, coconut oil, and liquid oil. Heat on medium heat until all are combined.
  2. Place measuring cup in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (or until the oils start to solidify again).
  3. Whip with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.
  4. Place in containers & use as a regular body butter. A little goes a long way! Enjoy!

Options: If using Vitamin E or essential oils, add prior to whipping. If using Pink Himalayan Sea Salt, add prior to whipping. You’ll need to let the mixture sit for about 3 days (whipping each day) in order to integrate all of the salt & avoid any granules in your final product.

**I love the smell of shea butter – I lived in Ghana for several years and shea butter is used in personal care items and as a cooking oil so it brings back fond memories. If you do not like the scent, you could substitute another hard oil such as mango butter or cocoa butter. If you use cocoa butter, your lotion will smell like chocolate!

Marta Block is a mother, wife, and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who lives on the Central Coast of California. She previously worked in the field of adoption and foster care. She is currently taking a break from working to raise her 4-year-old son and new baby girl in the healthiest way possible. She is an advocate of home birth and natural parenting options including exclusive breastfeeding, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, and eating real food. Her interests include hiking, kayaking, baking, and reading.

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