Moms: Why Taking Care of Yourself is the Best Thing for Your Family

Brought to you by Wolfson Children’s Hospital

Mother's of Preschoolers (MOPs)

Whether you have one child or five, a newborn or toddlers, being a mother has its challenges. Juggling doctors’ appointments, carpools, sporting events, naptimes, laundry meals and full or part-time jobs take up a lot of your day and stamina. It’s a rewarding but hectic time that can leave you drained and sometimes, feeling a little isolated. No matter how many kids you have, finding time for yourself and seeking out other moms to talk to who are going through similar experiences can go a long way toward easing stress, and making you feel less alone.

“It’s hard to put yourself on the list of things to do right now, but you must! Taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” said Julia “Jill” Garrett, PsyD., a licensed clinical psychologist with Baptist Behavioral Health, whose areas of expertise include adjustment and phase of life issues, stress management, and maternal mental health.

Working frequently with moms of young children, Dr. Garrett said she promotes the NURSE program of care to her clients: “Make sure your Nourishment and Needs are met; that you have an Understanding of typical adjustment to motherhood versus perinatal mental health difficulties such as postpartum anxiety and depression; that you are getting enough Rest and Relaxation; access Spirituality and/or Social Supports; and get out and Exercise!”

A common complaint moms make is that they don’t have the time, but if you make something that’s important to you a priority, you’ll figure out how to carve it into your schedule. Aside from eating right, exercising and spending a few moments decompressing, getting out of the house and meeting others with similar interests and situations can be a wonderful tonic for what ails you.

Parents Exercising with Their Babies in a Gym

Meeting Mom Friends

Vicky Lane, co-founder of Jacksonville Moms Blog, is a stay-at-home mom to six-year-old Brendan and four-year-old Audrey. Lane makes it a priority to get out and socialize with other moms, from participating in yoga class and exercise classes where moms and kids both join in, to play dates. Networking in the community and with other moms is vital, she said.

As a new mother living in Chicago with her husband John and their newborn first child, Lane felt isolated and spent many depressed days home alone with a crying baby. But when the family moved to Jacksonville when Brendan was 7 months old, she joined a fitness group geared for moms with babies and children at home, and it made a world of difference.

“It’s really important for moms to connect with other moms for many reasons, mainly for camaraderie,” said Lane. “To be able to compare stories, ask questions and get to know other moms is life-changing, especially to a first-time mom who is trying to figure it all out.”

Lots of new or stay-at-home moms tend to feel out of the loop and lonely because they spend so much time in the house with limited adult companionship. Patricia McFall Calhoun, MD, a family physician with Baptist Primary Care Mandarin North and medical director for Baptist Women’s Health Strategy, and the mother of five boys, noted that it’s a transition that’s especially difficult for those who are used to having a busy career with constant adult interaction. Meeting up with other moms who are also sleep-deprived, faced with constant feedings and new experiences can be both therapeutic and reassuring.

“Reaching out to others will allow moms to reap the benefit of techniques that have been helpful to others who’ve already faced what they have or will encounter,” said Dr. Calhoun. “Networking with other moms disperses the feelings that a mom must do everything by herself. As the much-quoted proverb states, ‘It takes a village.’”

She added that moms can connect through local church groups, postpartum breastfeeding support groups or online support groups, such as those offered through Postpartum Support International.

Jacksonville is full of groups and places that are perfect for moms to meet up, too. Lane said options abound for both stay-at-home moms and working ones. Many local business offer classes for children after work hours and on the weekends, there are several groups you can connect with online such as the local chapters of Moms Club and Mommy and Me. Local libraries have planned activities, and you’re bound to run into moms on the playground or at the beach. The key is to strike up a conversation when you have an opportunity.

“Meeting new moms can be just like dating,” said Lane. “You have to put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to approach someone at the park or in your daughter’s gymnastics class, and break the ice by asking questions like ‘What’s your son’s name?’ or ‘How old are your kids?’ You’ll be surprised at how eager the other mother is to chat!”

mother pushing son on swingNow Get Out There!

You can find a full list of local moms groups sorted by neighborhood, working moms, those who stay at home, and even military moms, right here on Jacksonville Moms Blog. The site also is a great resource for finding events going on around town that you can do with other moms.

Baptist Health offers a variety of classes, programs and support groups for moms, which you can find at For information on other health and wellness resources, including professional counseling and psychological services, visit here.

And if you’re looking for a fun way to get some healthy pampering, register for Girls’ Day Out on Saturday, September 17, at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront. Grab a friend or a family member and go! Click here to join in on the fun!


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