A barometer is an instrument used for measuring pressure.  It is also something that reflects changes in circumstances.  For me, the level of self-care I am prioritizing is a good measure of how burned out I am, and the lack thereof, the indicator it is time for change.

I used to think self-care was getting my nails done and “treating” myself to a night in with wine and a chick-flick.

After I had kids, “self-care” meant showering on occasion and using the bathroom alone.

Today, I have learned that “self-care” is the basic requirement of normal adulting. It’s not an indulgence or something that can be sacrificed for the good of the order. At this stage, self-care looks a lot different. It looks like prioritizing three whole, nutritious meals for myself each day. It looks like staying hydrated. Getting enough sleep. Limiting my time on social media. Getting up before the “squad” to make sure I get some time to meditate or pray, organize my thoughts and enjoy a cup of coffee before the demands of motherhood take over.

In the past, when things got crazy and the margin of my day fell victim to squeezing in a few extra hours of work after the kids were in bed, or forfeiting 9 hours on a Saturday to digging out of the depths of my laundry pile, my own self-care lost to the chaos.

Not anymore.

Over the last year, I have learned to shift my priorities. Maybe that is partly due to living through this pandemic when so many of my “obligations” have gone by the wayside, like Saturday morning sports and Wednesday night in-person extracurricular activities. But I don’t think I am going back to the way things were before.

“Burning the candle at both ends” used to be a badge of honor. “Busy” was my standard response to every, “Hey, how are you?”

Now I know that when I stop taking the time to make healthy choices for myself, like food prepping and exercise, it is because I have said, “yes” too many times. It is time for me to cut back. Why it took me 35 years to come to this conclusion, I don’t know. But now that I have had a taste of it, I will work to honor that feeling of stability. I will put my own needs first. A wise older mom once told me, “you cannot pour from an empty cup.” Oh, how right she was. There is no envy in running on fumes. Stop and fill your tank!

Are you burned out?

Is the pressure of life wreaking havoc on your anxiety? Take a minute to evaluate where you priorities are. As moms, we have to take care of ourselves first, so we have the capacity to take care of our families. Everything else is fringe. Make sure you are measured in how you dole out your time. You’ll be glad you did.


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Rachel is a native Coloradoan, though originally from the Western Slope. She followed her husband Chris to his hometown of Colorado Springs after having met in engineering school at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. Together they have four beautiful children, Tommy (2011), Tazzy (2014), Zach (2015) and Zinny (2018). Having a young and active family keeps Rachel on her toes trying to find ways to keep the ship sailing while still meeting all the demands of motherhood. Though Rachel loves her most important role as Mommy most, she also works full time outside the home as a Water Resources Engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources. This role helps keep her life centered, bouncing from detailed and complex discussions relating to Colorado Water Law with her husband ( a mechanical engineer) to daycare and preschool drop off and pick up schedules, while being constantly interrupted by the equally complex musings of her 4 year.