Photo by zhu difeng – fotolia
On the day I met Julie Burton to discuss her new book The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother’s Essential Guide to Health and Well Being, it’s an interview that almost didn’t happen. Everyone can relate to the frantic panic of tardiness, that gut-wrenching shame when someone is waiting on you, and you’re wasting not only your own time, but theirs as well. So imagine my frustration when I realize I’m sitting at the wrong Caribou Coffee waiting for my interviewee to walk through the door.
I frantically pack up and rush to the correct address—a Caribou that did not come up on my Google search, I might add. When I finally plop down at the right coffee shop, I’m flustered to say the least. Luckily, I’m meeting with the perfect person to help me overcome that frustration.
A mother to four children, Burton knows the ins and outs of parenting. As an experienced writer specializing in self-care, parenting, and relationships, Burton is able to utilize all of her knowledge and experience in her work. Since earning her master’s in journalism from Northwestern University, Burton has worked as the former editor of Momtalk, a local parenting magazine, co-founded the Twin Cities Writing Studio, and written for many local and national websites and publications. She also cultivates her blog and teaches yoga and wellness workshops around the Twin Cities area.
As Burton explains in her book, gratitude is a vital component of self-care—she dedicates an entire chapter of her book to the concept. Burton also focuses on the importance of relationships by emphasizing support as a vital factor in self-care. In order to practice good, sustainable self-care, there needs to be a discussion between partners, friends, and family—someone asking questions such as “OK. What do you need from me to be able to take care of you and your needs and balance the kids, the homework, the laundry, the driving?”
This day, I’m the one asking the questions, and Burton is the one with the answers.
What prompted you to write this book?
Burton: Something was missing in my ability to mother my children the way I wanted and feel good about myself separate from my children. I was missing the self-care piece. I think the transition from being a woman to a mother catches women off guard. They realize that they have to reframe their self-care because there is a dependent child that needs them.
What is the first step towards self-care?
Burton: The first step is something I call “grounding work.” Ask yourself the following questions: What makes you happy? What things could you incorporate into your life to make you happy?
Can you elaborate on this “grounding work?”
Burton: “Grounding work” is anything you can do to get yourself in the mindset that you are deserving of self-care: breath work, meditation, yoga. I’m a big proponent of writing things down and setting intentions. Start small with intention setting. Ask yourself, What is one thing I could do every day for ten minutes that would feel like self-care?
Do you see self-care as a struggle for most mothers?
Burton: I think mothers have always struggled to take care of themselves. Motherhood is a blessing—a beautiful, incredible blessing. The biggest struggle is not how to potty train or how to deal with tantrums, but how mothers balance taking care of their children, themselves, and everything else on their plate. The struggle is in some ways a blessing, because we get to care about a human being more than we have ever cared about anything in our lives. I mean, this is it; this is an unconditional love like you’ve never experienced before.
What would you say to moms who fear self-care is selfish?
Burton: Mothers have a huge responsibility. We have to be the force that grounds the family. In order to do that, we have to be continually practicing self-love. I don’t think very many moms realize how closely their kids are watching, and needing, and craving the example of self-care. The true understanding of self-care is that it’s the best thing I can do for my kids, to teach them by my example how to take care of themselves.
Read more of Burton’s tips for practicing self-care.