Self-Care for the Work From Home Mom with April Moseley | the nashville self-care series

the nashville self-care series

The Nashville Self-Care Series continues with the lovely April Moseley. April shares how she uses self-care to take care of herself as well as to have a healthier version of herself show up in her marriage and family. There is no "right" way to be a mother, but April offers a compelling vision of how self-care can help you be more like the mom you want to be. 

What does a typical workday look like for you? 
Well, I’m currently on maternity leave from my writing job so I’m leaning super heavily into the Mom part of my job. So right now my workday looks like playing Magnatiles, pretend, and hide and seek with my 2.5-year-old son in between nursing sessions and tummy time with my 2.5-month-old daughter. There’s a lot of making PBJs and reading children’s books and rocking and kissing boo-boos and watching the same three Disney movies on repeat and praying for temperatures above 45 degrees so my toddler can run off some energy at the playground instead of breaking everything in my house. And let’s be honest.. there’s often a 4 pm text to my husband asking what time he’s coming home to help! When maternity leave ends, I’ll still do all these things daily in my workday. I’ll just add in writing during naptime or going to a coffee shop one day a week for a few hours to read and crank out a few blogs.

I’d say prioritizing is the biggest key for success in taking care of myself in order to take care of my family and provide for my job. It is truer than ever: if I don’t love myself, I have so little love to offer my family and the world. April Moseley | Self-Care for Moms | the Nashville Self-Care Series

What are some daily, weekly, or annual/seasonal self-care practices that are beneficial to you? 
Daily - It varies for me day to day. Oftentimes, it’s harnessing the quiet space of naptime for me to drink a cup of coffee with my journal and some music on. Practicing gratitude daily is important to me as well - this is often at dinner or bedtime or sprinkled throughout my day. Sometimes self-care is a 15-minute podcast that slows me down, centers me, and helps me get back in my body. It’s important for me to stay in touch with what’s going on for myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally each day in this taxing season with little babes or else it can come out sideways at one of my kids or my husband. I also try to read a book at some point every day. Sometimes it’s only when I lay down at night, sometimes it’s while I nurse my baby, sometimes it’s when my husband gets home and I escape to the bath for 20 minutes. Books have always been my best medicine and best escape. And coincidentally, I believe reading is also one of the most important practices for a writer. It’s hard to write well without reading well! Oh, and SLEEP. I try to prioritize my sleep as a self-care practice these days because a better-rested mama makes all the difference in the world.

Weekly - One of the most important weekly practices of self-care for me as a mom is connection. Every week does not look like calendars full of play dates to cool places with other moms and kids. Sometimes there’s a playdate to another mom’s house or them to mine so I can interact with an adult, sure. But a lot of weeks it just looks like a phone call to someone - maybe in my life phase, maybe not. Just a human being I can reach out to so someone knows how I’m doing if I’m okay, and where I need help or encouragement or prayer. Usually, it’s a friend who can say “man, I’ve felt that same way before too and it is so hard” and that empathy is the best care so many days! Connection to others, particularly other moms, keeps me out of depression and intense loneliness as well.

Also, not quite each week but definitely spaced out over the month or so, I see a therapist, a spiritual director, and talk with a mentor. I also try to get together with a few of my friends in a book club each month and that does wonders for my mental health! 

And every year, we make space as a family for some sort of vacationing - both with and without our kids. We need that space to breathe, to dream, and to cultivate space for wholehearted living without the distractions of everyday life. We always try to think hard about what we need before planning those getaways. Sometimes we need to laugh and play and sometimes we need connection to each other and sometimes we just need rest - especially at this stage! And then once we go, we try to be intentional with that time to get what we need. Sometimes we have to get creative when money is tight, but ultimately we’ve decided that even though things like vacations and therapy are expensive, our mental health and family health is more important than any physical item money can buy. And my gut says our children will be when they grow up to have a healthy family they want to come home to than the best and latest toys and cars and clothes.

How have self-care practices impacted your life and work?
Honestly, it’s changed everything to offer myself compassion and care.
I find that if I’m not filled up and cared for in my mind and soul, I have very little to offer my children, my husband, or my job. It’s also important for me to be challenged and learning always. Without that opportunity for growth, I feel stuck and uninspired. Both my spiritual director and my mentor are intentionally a good bit older than me and my counselor is just a little ahead of me in years as well. It helps me to have a perspective from different generations to keep me from being so singularly focused on these little years with kids where the days are often so very very long. And the inspiration and growth I’m experiencing gives me tools and ideas I can share with others in my writing career. It also really improves life for my husband to have a wife who is continuously working through her issues, especially since some days with little babies have you up all night and it’s hard to remember to even brush your teeth, much less offer kindness and grace to the people in your home.

What are some obstacles in this season of life that make self-care a challenge?
Lack of sleep and lack of energy, a baby that needs to eat every 2 hours, a toddler who would much prefer to have every bit of my attention who also never stops talking or moving. The little years with kids are just so all-encompassing. Literally, my whole body is being used at all times. So it’s really hard to prioritize myself when their needs seem so pressing. They are always sick or frustrated or learning or have something seemingly important I can’t miss going on. But if I don’t prioritize self-care, they get a strung-out, stressed-out, bitter and exhausted Mom and that helps no one. It also leaves me with nothing to offer my job. I’d say prioritizing is the biggest key for success in taking care of myself in order to take care of my family and provide for my job. It is truer than ever: if I don’t love myself, I have so little love to offer my family and the world. Just this week, I sat down with a pen and paper and made a list of just a few things I needed just for me and then a few things my family needed (and let’s be honest - that list was really more than a few - that’s one of the biggest obstacles too - they all need so much!). And then I went back and forth doing things on the different lists. It was a simple practice but it helped! I got myself a dentist appointment scheduled and called my doctor and those are just simple self-cares I’d never neglect for my children! Clearly, I’m still in process but I’m learning to value myself like I value them. But those other tiny humans, which are my main job right now, are the biggest obstacle to my self-care themselves, no matter how much joy and satisfaction they bring me as well.

Are there any practices of self-care that you are implementing in 2018?
Monthly spiritual direction is my favorite self-care practice I’m implementing this year. I’ve found that it is really hard to be connected each week at church with little kids that get sick or a baby you’re trying to help not cry in the back of the service. So getting together with someone who helps me notice what’s going on in my journey with God feels really important. 
I also set a goal for how many books I want to read this year using an app called GoodReads. Having a goal keeps me motivated to keep going through the list of all the different kinds of books I’ve been excited to read.
Oh and I’m also trying to practice the ancient art of asking for help when I need help. Sometimes as moms we think we need to be superheroes and do it all. But gosh, motherhood is hard and life is hard and I need help a lot! 

How can we offer our children what we don’t offer ourselves_ (2).pngHow can we offer our children what we don’t offer ourselves? | Self-Care for Moms | The Nashville Self-Care Series

How does your industry/field practice or promote self-care?
As a general rule, I think the Mom world isn’t the best at promoting self-care. It almost seems counter-cultural to “need” self-care as a mom, even in these days of growing female privileges. The generations before us as well as what I saw in movies and books made it seem like the years with young children were about totally forgetting yourself and sacrificing all your uniqueness and passions to cut grapes in half all day and be at every field trip with perfectly packed lunches and a surprise while leaving your home in immaculate condition. And I think women are still fighting against that and often don’t know how to value themselves while wiping bottoms and helping with homework. So how have I seen self-care promoted for us? I’ve had to seek that out, honestly. By that I mean, my therapist really promotes it and encourages it, nudging me further in my belief that a healthy mama makes healthy kids not total neglecting of the self. And my favorite author promotes it talking about what she’s learned from the mistakes her mom made along the way. Other moms I know promote self-care sometimes too. That’s the crazy importance of being in community with other moms.. there are other people to notice when you're headed off the deep end again and aren’t caring for yourself anymore. I’m eternally grateful for those few friends who remind me I’m doing enough and deserve love and attention from myself, even on days my son has watched a movie three times. I’m hopeful the times are continuing to change in valuing the difficulty of motherhood and how necessary self-care is as even celebrities like Kristen Bell have started vocalizing this need.
In the writing world, you kind of have to seek out voices rallying for self-care too, since it can be a bit of a lonely job, particularly when you’re doing it part-time as a stay at home mom. Other writers have led the way for me, whether in blogs or books or podcasts. Another reason it’s forever necessary to stay connected to others in this job!

How would your industry/field look different if self-care was a core value?
To see moms thriving as they learn to value themselves and care for themselves is to see children thriving as they learn to value themselves as well. How can we offer our children what we don’t offer ourselves? So not just the industry of momming would change, but the humans we raise as well. So it might actually change the whole world. I think it would change the tone of marriages as well if moms were to better care for themselves. And what a gift we would give to our spouses and our children if we weren’t all laced with strung-out, stressed-out days and heaps of bitterness and resentment. Perhaps through good self-care, we won’t arrive at the empty nesting years not knowing our spouses or ourselves.

Are there any books/movies/songs that are currently life-giving for you? 
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
The Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd
Dear You: Messages for Moms by Jacquelyn B. Fletcher
The Road Back to You by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile
Emily P. Freeman’s Podcast: The Next Right Thing
Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown
Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey
The Liturgists Podcast
Ian Cron’s Typology Podcast
The Shauna Niequist Podcast
Lots of novels too :)

April Moseley is a mom and a writer with a background in marriage and family therapy and campus ministry. April received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Lipscomb and her Masters from Trevecca Nazarene University and still resides in Nashville, TN. She's an avid reader, a frequent baker, and a lover of words and people. She enjoys continuously learning and sharing on emotional health, spiritual growth, and safe places to land. She spends her free time channeling Joanna Gaines and bargain hunting to create a peaceful, inviting, and functional living space for her family and friends, specifically her husband Josh and their children - Jude and Haddie.

If you are looking for a safe space to process motherhood and work towards having the healthiest version of you show up for your family, then contact Jessica by filling out this form. If you want to read more blogs about self-care then check out these resources: 

 

 

Self-Care for the Theological Community | the nashville self-care series

the nashville self-care series | women's counseling

The Nashville Self-Care Series hopes to inspire women to be open to holistic ways of caring for themselves. Each of these self-care dialogues is with incredible women who may represent one career path but are a combination of employee, sister, mother, friend, and partner. When I was working with Mallory on this piece, I asked her "what should I call you because you do so many things?" And I believe that question connects with a lot of women who wear many "hats" professionally and personally. Dr. Mallory Wyckoff is a Spiritual Director, professor, writer and mother.  I am excited to share Mallory's wisdom on both her personal self-care practices and her spiritual reflections on self-care. 

self-care and spirituality with Dr. Mallory Wyckoff | the nashville self-care series

What does a typical workday look like for you?
Having a 16-month-old and doing a significant portion of my work from home means that my days are seldom as structured as I’d like them to be, and each day varies. This has been a really difficult adjustment, so I’m continually trying to find and establish rhythms of rest and productivity that work well for me and for my family.

What are some daily, weekly, or annual/seasonal self-care practices that are beneficial to you?
One of the most important self-care practices I’m committed to is caring for my physical body, through exercise 4x a week and eating food that brings my body (and the planet) life. This practice just seems to set the tone for all the others, as it reminds me of so much: that my body is good and sacred; that I cannot live in my head but am an embodied human being; that the decisions I make towards health allow not only me but the creation around me to flourish; etc. Beyond this, my given season in life as a work-from-and-stay-at-home mom makes routine self-care practices difficult. Some days I mourn this, but most days I try to be open to any simple practice that allows me to be kind to myself and to live fully and presently. This might mean spending a few minutes in quiet meditation while I stretch after a workout, or it might mean lighting a candle from Anthropologie that smells impossibly good, or it might mean buying the freshest ingredients I can find and making a good meal for my family, or it might mean playing calming music that helps me breathe deeply and resist the urge towards anxiety.

After having my daughter I realized early on that it would be impossible to have a perfect schedule (because babies change every week and as soon as you set a schedule they manage to disrupt it), but I felt confident we could find a rhythm, a general orienting flow to the day. This is also true of my self-care practices. It is difficult (impossible perhaps?) to have a set of practices that are static and certain right now because one blowout diaper can quickly disrupt every best-laid plan. But what I can do is operate from a deeply rooted theology of human dignity, knowing that my entire person—body, mind, spirit—matters, that I am worthy of receiving kindness—even and especially kindness that I extend to myself—and that being a grateful recipient of kind acts opens me up to offer them to others in my work and service in the world. Starting from this point helps me aware to wherever, whenever, and however I am being extended that sort of kindness, that opportunity to be fully present in a moment and see the enormous sacredness of the whole thing.

Self-care speaks to and from my truest self, reminding me that I can rest, and I can receive good gifts, and I can be cared for, and I can be loved—independent of what or how much I can produce and accomplish. This is a liberating message. - dr. mallory wyckoff

How have self-care practices impacted your life and work?
I am, in some ways, a machine. I have an absurd capability to produce, to perform, to achieve, and to do it all as efficiently as possible. It is the mechanism I’ve developed to interface with the world and to survive, and in some ways it has served me well. But in other ways, I spin my wheels so hard and fast that I’m hundreds of miles down the road before realizing that I’m out of steam and breaking down. Self-care practices speak truth to me about my truest self, that beyond all that I can accomplish or achieve or produce—even and especially the “good” things—who I truly am is a child of God, and a human being made in God’s image. I do not need to push myself to the furthest limits of my abilities. I do not need to be efficient in all things. I do not have to serve everyone in every way possible. These are all parts of my false self, rearing its rather ugly head. Self-care speaks to and from my truest self, reminding me that I can rest, and I can receive good gifts, and I can be cared for, and I can be loved—independent of what or how much I can produce and accomplish. This is a liberating message. And when I choose to hear and imbibe that message, I also stop demanding that others produce and accomplish and keep my same frenzied pace. I instead allow them to be beloved image bearers of God, worthy of being seen and cared for and loved.

Are there any practices of self-care that you are implementing in 2018? Why?
I want to be more connected to other humans. I am a task-oriented person, and if I’m honest with myself, I sometimes see people as obstacles to my accomplishing those tasks. But when a friend invites me to have tea or to go out for drinks, I want to say yes and to say it fully and not see it as keeping me from my very real and demanding stack of to-do items. I want to initiate this more, and to receive others’ invitations with gratitude.

How does your industry/field practice or promote self-care?
My training and work are in the field of theology, and in many ways the Western church has adopted really bad theology about the body, speaking of it solely or mostly in pejorative terms and relegating it to a status inferior to things of the spirit. But true, good, biblical theology honors the body, honors creation, and holds all these as sacred. So, when we are at our best, we theologians not only speak of the sacredness of all of creation but we live from and into that reality in the ways we care for ourselves, for others, and for all of creation. When we are at our worst, we speak and live in ways that drive further the perceived disconnect between sacred and secular, body and spirit. Sometimes, good self-care can be part of what helps us navigate how to hold together those pieces that never were meant to be separated.

Are there any books/movies/songs that are currently life-giving for you?

Here are things that are currently bringing me life, all for various reasons which share one common thing: they orient me to the present and help me live more fully as a human being. 

Mallory Wyckoff (DMin, MTS) lives with her husband, Tim, and daughter, Olive, in Nashville, TN, despite her sincere dislike of country music and Southern food. Mallory is a spiritual director and seeks to create safe spaces wherein people can explore more fully the mystery of the Divine and who they are as image-bearers of God. She also teaches in the College of Bible and Ministry at Lipscomb University, and works in the DMin department supporting students in their doctoral research.

If you are looking to add counseling into your routine and rhythm, then contact Jessica at 615-979-4168 or by filling out this form. If you want more information on self-care check out these resources. 

 

 

Self-Care for Social Workers with Lydia Burris | the nashville self-care series

the nashville self-care series | Jessica McCoy Counseling

The Nashville Self-Care Series is a resource for each of us to hear how other women are taking care of themselves in the midst of busy lives and hard jobs. Each interview brings a new perspective because self-care looks different for everyone. I am excited to introduce this week's guest blogger, Lydia Burris. She is my favorite social worker and my sister. I cannot be more proud of the work she does for Nashville students and the school system. Social Work can be a heavy job and I am so grateful to hear Lydia's perspective on Self-Care and Social Work. 

What does a typical workday look like for you?
One of my favorite parts of my job is that every day is different. My day may be packed with meetings at schools and appointments or I may be in the office for the entirety of the day. Every day, I answer emails and am on the phone with clients, school staff, therapists, and juvenile court staff. I primarily attend Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings for students with disabilities and advocate on behalf of what the parent or guardian wants for their child’s education. I also attend meetings regarding school discipline and meetings with the Department of Children Services. Other days, I provide training to community agencies regarding special education law, visit my clients in juvenile detention, go to court with my clients, do home visits, or visit kids at school. Having the variety in my schedule helps me avoid burn out and gives me something new to look forward to when I am starting to feel exhausted.

 Jessica's two favorite social workers. Lydia Burris and Brené Brown. 

Jessica's two favorite social workers. Lydia Burris and Brené Brown. 

What are some daily, weekly, or annual/seasonal self-care practices that are beneficial to you?   
I know my mental health is always better when I am getting enough sleep and exercising regularly, whether that be running, walking on my lunch break, or doing a Yoga with Adriene video, so I always try to incorporate those into my daily and weekly routine. For me, I know that relationships and connection with others are really important ways to take care of myself, so I try to make sure that I am getting enough social activities in through spending time with friends, families, and my husband.

This past year, I knew that I really needed to do some personal work, and I started seeing a therapist regularly. Seeing a therapist was one of the most beneficial ways that I was able to take care of myself during a difficult time, and I would highly recommend seeing a therapist who you connect with to anyone, especially anyone in a helping profession.

I also find it really helpful for me to be involved with a faith community because I find that doing this work can feel really lonely, and it is so beneficial for me to connect with others in my neighborhood and community even if they don’t always understand what I do at work. Even though I work with youth, I spend more time working with parents and school staff, so I teach the kids at my church every week. I find that to be important because it gives me time to build relationships with kids without having it be a part of my 9-5 routine.

Professionally, I love going to trainings because it not only makes me more competent, but it is so nice to be around other social workers. I am also typically a guest speaker every semester at the college I attended, and I really appreciate that opportunity to give back to a community that molded me into the social worker that I am today.  I find these experiences so much more helpful long-term than getting my nails done or getting a massage.

Exercise is not self-care when you end up shaming yourself for not being enough. - Lydia Burris LMSW | The Nashville Self-Care Series

How have self-care practices impacted your life and work?.
When I started my job four years ago, I really didn’t understand how important self-care was, so the first six months of my job was really challenging. My boss repeatedly had to remind me to give myself more grace, which has been really formative for my career. Since then, my practice of self-care has improved significantly, and I feel like another person both professionally and personally than those first few months.

I think boundaries are so incredibly important, so as soon as I started my job, I refused to get my work emails coming automatically to my phone. It helps me focus on what needs to get done, and it means I’m not accessible when I’m off the clock. It’s already difficult enough to not take our clients’ stories home with us, so having this feature turned off really helps me stay balanced and healthy personally. 

What are some obstacles in this season of life that make self-care a challenge?
When my schedule is packed, I know that my practice of self-care practice automatically decreases.  Also, this political climate that we are in currently is really challenging for me in a lot of ways. I try to pay attention to the red flags when I know that I’m not taking care of myself well enough.

Are there any practices of self-care that you are implementing in 2018?
Because I know exercise is really important for me, I try to run before work when I know I have a difficult meeting that day. Or recently I had a tough day at work, so as soon as I got home I jumped on my bike. Thirty minutes later, I felt like Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde because “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” Regarding exercise, I’m really working this year on not shaming myself for not being faster, stronger, as good as that girl over there, etc. Exercise is not self-care when you end up shaming yourself for not being enough.

I recently started doing a Shame Resilience Group led by my therapist with a bunch of my close girlfriends, and we are going through (my Social Work Queen) Brené Brown’s curriculum. I’m really looking forward to this because the work is so important personally, but I am also getting to improve my relationships with my friends. Having a strong community of women who empower each other has truly changed my life.

Even though it’s more expensive, my husband and I save money for vacations and weekend trips to get away. I was really struggling at work last April, so we scheduled a weekend at the beach for the end of May after school ended. As soon as I knew it was on the calendar, my outlook on work and life was immediately different. I really try to be aware of what seasons are most difficult at work and strategically place events in my calendar to give me something to look forward to.

How does your industry/field practice or promote self-care?
The social work profession really values self-care, which absolutely makes sense considering the difficult work we do and the secondary trauma we experience. Throughout my education, we always discussed self-care and the importance of it to our health and our longevity in this field. Unfortunately, I didn’t walk away from school with a strong understanding of what self-care should really look like for me personally. Because self-care has to be individualized to your personal needs, I would recommend to anyone in school or before starting a new job to start figuring out what works best for you as soon as possible. You need those skills incorporated into your daily routine because it is hard to determine what works when you’re already exhausted from the learning curve of a new job or you’re in the middle of a crisis at work.

Are there any books/movies/songs that are currently life-giving for you? 
When I’m feeling stressed before a school meeting, I often blare “Glorious” by Macklemore & Skyler Grey as I drive.

Anything by Brené Brown. Meeting her was a bucket list moment for me for sure.  I just ordered The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, and I can’t wait to read it. When I need a break from anything heavy, I love a good easy-read Chick Lit book.

Lydia Burris, LMSW provides educational advocacy with students with disabilities who are currently involved in or at-risk for the juvenile court system. She believes that all students deserve justice in the classroom. Lydia and her husband live in Woodbine and love their neighborhood. 

If you are looking to add going to counseling to help during this stressful season in your life, contact Jessica at Jessica@JessicaMcCoyCounseling or call 615-979-4168