Mommy-ing is hard work. You never thought it would be all rainbows, unicorns, and magical glitter dust. But you also didn鈥檛 realize how much of yourself you鈥檇 give up for your baby, trying to meet unrealistic parenting standards. Okay, you love your kiddo more than anything or anyone and you鈥檇 do anything for them. But that should include putting yourself first 鈥 at least sometimes. You鈥檙e not being selfish; moms have needs of their own. Let鈥檚 not forget that you鈥檙e more than someone鈥檚 mother 鈥 you鈥檙e a person with your own identity. With that in mind, check out why (and when) you should totally put yourself first.

A mother plays with her son in the park

1. You鈥檙e more than a mom. Your life title isn鈥檛 just Jane Smith, AAM (Always A Mom). Yes, you鈥檙e a mother. But your other identities include spouse, partner, friend, daughter, sister, coworker, boss, skydiver, ice skater, dancer, artist, poet, or plenty more. There鈥檚 a long list of things that make up who you are. Underselling yourself and putting aside everything that comes after 鈥渕ommy鈥 means that you鈥檙e only living part of your life. Make yourself whole again and reposition some of those other pieces of your life in front of the word 鈥渕om,鈥 at least once in a while.

2. Your child needs you. It doesn鈥檛 really seem to jive with the idea of putting yourself first, does it? If that鈥檚 what you鈥檙e thinking, let鈥檚 step back to take a better look at what it means to be a caregiver. If you can鈥檛 take care of yourself, you can鈥檛 take care of anyone else. Think about the times 鈥 and there are plenty of them 鈥 when you got something like 45 minutes of sleep, total, in a 24-hour period. In your zombie-fied state, you could barely lift a cup of coffee to your lips, let alone change diapers and feed your baby. Sure, it鈥檚 not always (or ever) possible to control how much sleep you get. But when there are ways to stop for a break and take care of yourself, do so. The fresh-faced, plucky, 鈥淵ay! I got 17 minutes to myself!鈥 鈥 you will be a better mom than the Walking Dead version (and we鈥檙e not talking about the ass-kicking Maggie kind).

3. Sanity isn鈥檛 overrated. You鈥檙e a giver. That鈥檚 okay: We all totally appreciate everything you do. Sure, your S.O. and kiddos may forget to say thanks, but your selflessness is kind of the glue that binds your home together. But that glue is so much more, and your mental health is part of it. A complete, total, unwavering sense of selflessness may seem noble, but it will make you a crazy person. Cut the martyr act, and put yourself first every so often. You鈥檒l feel less stressed, be able to relax, and be a much saner mommy for it.

A woman laughs with her baby

4. It鈥檚 been way, way, way too long. Every moment of every day is devoted to your baby, and it鈥檚 been that way for the past 10 months. Ask yourself what the last thing you did for yourself was. Chances are that you don鈥檛 even remember. When taking a moment for yourself to read a book, eat a meal, or brush your hair is more of a distant daydream or some kind of hopeless mommy fantasy, stop and take some time to put yourself first.

5. You deserve it. You鈥檙e kind of a superwoman. You change diapers, hand out bottles (or your boob), make play date plans, and fold laundry all at the same time. You鈥檙e a multitasking mama, and you get the job done. Everything we just described had to do with the baby and not you. With all the work you put into motherhood, it鈥檚 perfectly acceptable (and totally encouraged) to give yourself some 鈥渕e鈥 time.

6. Don鈥檛 dash your dreams. It鈥檚 fairly likely that when you were a little girl you never said, 鈥淕osh, I really want to clean poopy diapers all day long when I grow up.鈥 Yeah, yeah, there are plenty of other (less sucky) parts of being a mom. The point here is that you have dreams鈥 that don鈥檛 always involve the baby. Don鈥檛 freak out! Just because you鈥檙e a mama now doesn鈥檛 mean following your dreams makes you a selfish mom-b*tch. It makes you normal.

A women and her children bake together

7. Set an example. Your kiddo is like a human surveillance system 24/7, and they know exactly what you鈥檙e doing and when you鈥檙e doing it. If they see you throwing down on altar of motherhood, sacrificing everything that you are for your children, they鈥檒l think that鈥檚 what a woman鈥檚 job is, and June Cleaver will be I-T in their mind when it comes to what a woman 鈥渟hould鈥 be. Unless you鈥檙e all about being the 1950s version of a mama, put yourself first here and there (or more). Your child will appreciate the life lesson. And that鈥檚 not just for daughters: Sons need to see that women aren鈥檛 just overly exhausted, coffee-chugging housekeepers.

8. Rid yourself of regrets. When your grandma says, 鈥淓njoy everything right now, because it goes by so fast,鈥 she isn鈥檛 kidding. She鈥檚 not exaggerating: It really truly does go by 鈥 in a blink. Fifty years from now, you don鈥檛 want to look back and think, 鈥淚 wish I鈥檇鈥︹ about everything you missed by being too focused on everyone but yourself.

9. Kids grow up. Yes, your child is always your child. Whether they鈥檙e three or 30, they鈥檙e still your little baby. But some day they will turn 18, graduate from high school, go off to college, and eventually go on with adult life. And there you are 鈥 alone. Your S.O. might be right by your side, but whether you鈥檙e hanging with the love of your life or not, your kiddo won鈥檛 be around 24/7. Even though you鈥檙e still every bit as much a mom as you were when your baby was six months old, you鈥檒l suddenly have oodles of time to鈥 well, you really have no clue. That鈥檚 because you never put yourself first! Do it. Do it now. Your future empty-nester self will thank you.

How do you make time for yourself? Share your self-care tips with us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)