Mamas Who Help, Here’s to You: A Toast to the Helping Professionals

Mamas Who Help, Here's to You: A Toast to the Helping Professionals

March is National Social Work Month (shout out to my other SW sisters!), and I’d like to share my heart as someone in the helping profession who tries to balance that with the joy of parenthood.

I think being a parent in the helping profession has it’s own set of unique blessings and challenges.  When you’re knee-deep in life with others outside of your home it can breathe a fresh wind into your lungs, while simultaneously draining you of every last ounce of empathy.

If you’re a nurse, teacher, caregiver, social worker, or another helper by profession you get the weird dichotomy I’m talking about.  On any given day you can be drowning in paperwork, or drowning in….other stuff (nurses, you are my heroes).  You can be sitting in the hospital with a client, trying to find them a psych bed, or helping a domestic violence survivor make their safety plan.  Yet while you may get to clock out, your brain is with those who are entrusted to your care.  Their needs and their pain don’t clock out when you do.  But at the same time, you likely have people under your roof who also need the greatest caregiver around: YOU.

So how do we balance this?

First, a disclaimer: for those of you who are working full-time in the helping profession while raising your kids: I salute you.  I couldn’t do it.  I had to walk away from full-time work while my kids are little because I simply could not do both momming and full-time work well at all.  So, my self-care in this season of my life was quite drastic: I am working part-time while raising my kids.  Everyone is much happier!  But I understand that this is not for everyone, nor is it feasible for everyone.  I understand I am speaking from a position of immense privilege.

We cannot save everyone:  Sure, we want to and can feel the responsibility to, but we cannot.  We can do what we can, when we can, but there has to be a point in which we take our hands off the wheel and let it be; because it will likely still be there tomorrow!

Don’t forget your legacy:  Your children need their mama and nobody can replace you.  You will not get to the end of your life and say “gosh, I wish I worked more”.  Work, and the needs of others, will always be there; those chubby hands asking for one more story will not.  There are a lot of therapist’s offices that have heard the words: “my parents never had time for me”.  You will not regret mustering up that last ounce of energy for your kids.

Find your space:  Whatever that looks like.  For me, it’s an empty space and a piano.  It’s a nap or spending time with a friend.  Self-care is something that we preach a lot as helping professionals and as women but are SO bad at.  So, instead of preaching self-care I want you to focus on finding some space in your life.  If that’s sitting in your driveway and practicing mindful breathing (or going nuts on some 90’s rap, I don’t judge) or binge-watching Netflix then you do you.  We cannot pour from an empty cup.  And partners of helping professionals: step up.  Let them find their space.  The dishwasher is not space.

I’d love to hear how you care for yourself and your family while caring for others.  You have chosen a noble calling and our community is better for it!

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  1. YES! I am a nurse and also a bedsharing mama! I have thankfully cut back from two 12s a week down to just 1 with flexibility to he off as needed. But I am a caregiver 24/7/365 and it is EXHAUSTING. I qm lying here now with a toddler with the flu and it just never stops!

  2. I’m a first time momma about to return to work as a sexual assault advocate. Previously my self-care was Crossfit, making jewelry, going on outdoor adventures, yoga and naps. I’ll have to get back to you once I see what fits when I’m back to work!

    • Please do! Especially in a job like that, and as a mama, your self care will be necessary but may very well change. Your newfound mama-hood may also affect your tolerance for the late nights and on call rotations, in addition to the work itself, so find a self care groove and let us know how it goes! I couldn’t imagine being a mom back in my DV/SA days, so kudos to you! That is an amazing strength!

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