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Take Care of Your Body

When Anne, our oldest, was born, I was twenty years old. Mark was twenty-four. We were both young and full of energy. I could study into the night, be up with the baby and still go strong the next day. When Austin, our youngest, was born, I was thirty-two. My body didn't have quite the same stamina it had three babies earlier. I needed to pay attention to its limits or my body would require me to take notice.

How much sleep do you need? Are you getting it? The body regenerates itself through the process of sleep. When we short-circuit that rest time, it breaks down the body's natural self-care cycle. Do you need to go to bed earlier? Do you need to lie down in the afternoon for a few minutes? Take a few minutes for some much needed shut-eye if you need to. You'll feel better and will be better equipped to meet the needs of your family.

What about your eating habits? Are you trying to survive on whatever your kids don't finish? Are you eating healthy food or are you in a snack habit? Our bodies need specific minerals and vitamins. A diet of peanut butter sandwich crusts does not provide the nutrients our bodies need. I'm a person who has always struggled with the three-meals-a-day thing. I'm not particularly fond of breakfast food. So if I'm going to skip a meal, it's usually breakfast. When I realized I didn't have to eat breakfast food, though, I found myself able to get a good start in the morning by eating something else. Instead of a bowl of cereal, I might have a bowl of chicken and rice soup. And no, brownies and cookies for breakfast don't make the grade. I know, I've tried to make them work too, but they just don't have the same effect. We must feed our bodies the nutrients God designed them to run on.

How much water are you drinking every day? Several years ago, I increased my water intake. I was amazed at the increase in energy and the decrease in appetite I experienced!

I've never been particularly fond of water myself, so I had to be creative about making it attractive. I did this by keeping lemons and limes sliced in my refrigerator and dropping a wedge or two in my glass of water. This little splurge on myself has resulted in a physical benefit.

What about your health? I am amazed at how many women I talk to who have not had a pap smear and breast examination in years. Take these preventive measures to care for your body. It is truly a gift to your family. A good friend of mine just finished three months of chemotherapy after a mastectomy. She's thirty-eight and married with two young children. Thank goodness she was taking care of herself and her body. The cancer was caught early and her chances for a long life are very good.

A common habit that mothers at home fall into is not taking time to fix themselves up each day. When I first started staying home, there were actually days my husband returned home in the evening only to find me looking the same way he had left me in the morning — no makeup, hair disheveled and dressed in sweats. It wasn't a pretty sight. I have to admit on the days I don't take care of my appearance, I don't feel good about myself and I struggle with low motivation. We tend to fall into that pattern, especially when we're not going anywhere outside the home. I would actually ask myself, "Am I going anywhere today?" When the answer was no, my thought process was, "Why bother?" I learned over time, though, that it's important for me, my husband and my family that I make the effort to look and feel my best every day.

Consider putting on a pair of jeans, a belt and a blouse or sweater rather than a pair of sweats. Take a few minutes to curl or style your hair. Add a bit of makeup and some earrings. It will make you feel better. Just before your husband comes home, take a peek at yourself in the mirror and fix your hair or makeup. You'll feel good about yourself. He's worth it, and so are you.

Personal Care Priority List

  • Sleep — enough to keep you in a positive mood
  • Nutrition — healthy food that gives you energy and plenty of water
  • Health — annual pap smear, breast exam and physical
  • Hygiene — neat hair and some makeup
  • Clothing — comfortable but presentable (Remember, you're not going out to an office, but you are doing a respectable and very important job, so dress accordingly.)