My Two Non-Negotiables to Make ME a Priority

Amy Keslinke by Amy Keslinke Additional Needs

Amy Keslinke

Amy Keslinke

Amy is mom to 2 small children, one with developmental delays, hearing loss, and a congenital heart defect. She writes at

As soon as I announced I was pregnant with my first baby, I began to be inundated with advice.

You should get [insert random baby product]....You shouldn’t let the baby sleep in your bedroom…. You should wear the baby all the time….You should sleep now, because you’re not going to sleep again for 18 years.

All those shoulds led me to start speaking to myself the same way when I had my first and started to get my hands dirty (literally and figuratively) as a mother.

I should put her to bed earlier…. I shouldn’t let her have that much sugar….

I could go on and on and on.

So, when my second baby was born with special needs, the shoulds certainly didn’t go away.

In this season of my motherhood, I’ve learned that I can should myself out of anything. Instead, I decided to start talking myself INTO things instead of out of them.

In the craziness of motherhood, it’s easy to talk myself out of the things that I do just for me. For me, those two things are exercise and quiet time. I fiercely protect these times of my day, refusing to schedule in just about anything that will conflict with them.

Exercise was the first thing to go when my second baby was born and spent months at a time in the hospital. Of course, I give myself grace for the difficulty of that time, but I came up with all sorts of imaginary reasons why exercise couldn’t happen for a long time outside of those difficulties, not because it was too hard or I was too tired, but because I should have been doing any number of other “unselfish” things instead.

When I prioritized exercise, I discovered how much it changed me and brought positivity into my life on even the hard days. Now, I schedule my exercise first thing in the morning, ideally before my kids are out of bed, and, if something happens to get in the way, I have the whole day to figure it out.

My other self-care non-negotiable is quiet time. Now that my oldest is four, naps have become a thing of the past. I still hold that quiet time sacred, though, more for my own quiet than for her (although she benefits from it equally as much).

I often feel guilty about it, but I don’t allow myself to do any housework or work-work during that one hour in the middle of the day. I read a book, play a game on my phone, or sometimes--gasp--take a nap. This hour to reset makes me feel so much more refreshed than I would have if I tried to cram some jobs into that time.

I’m not sure where we as moms learned that taking time for ourselves is selfish. I’m here to tell you, it’s not. For me, it’s exercise and quiet time. For you, it could be any number of different possibilities. What matters is that it makes you feel like, well, you.

When we prioritize ourselves in just a few little ways, the ripple effect is huge. I believe I am a better mom, wife, friend, employee, sister, etc. when I am a better ME, and prioritizing myself makes ME better.

How will you start prioritizing yourself?


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