In social work we are taught to perform needs assessments on communities or individuals to assess what is missing when it comes to the current situation versus the desired situation. It sounds simple but can be very complex. The main goals of needs assessments are identifying problems and selecting appropriate solutions. Needs assessments on individuals are holistic and take into account the various areas of a person’s life (i.e. finanicial, social, psychological, spiritual, etc.).
I find that taking the time to slow down and really look at what I need can completely change my perspective and thus my actions in response to a particular problem. For example, I may have had little sleep after my toddler woke several times during the night. The next day I am on edge and irritable but find myself blaming my mood and responses on trivial things. Thoughts while cleaning the house such as “why does my partner never pick up his clothes of the floor?” or “I never have time to keep up on this house” lead me to channel my irritability into an ineffective direction and may lead me to being short with my partner later in the day or less likely to engage with my son in a meaningful way that day.
If I truly took a step back for a minute and asked myself “What do I really need?” it wouldn’t be my partner picking his clothes up off the floor or the having more time in the day. It would simply be rest. So maybe I decide to nap that day during my son’s nap instead of cleaning. I am giving myself what I need to get myself back to a stable and more rational mood. And then I start to feel back to baseline and ready to move on through with my day. It seems to be a cliche to “sleep when the baby sleeps” but most of us moms never do it because we ignore our own needs and do what we think we should be doing during this time (cleaning, paying bills, etc).
So perform your own needs assessment sometime this week. Sit down and ask yourself the following questions-
I am feeling _______________. What do I need right now in my life ….
-physically- do you feel healthy, balanced, and connected to your body?
-spiritually- do you feel you find meaning in life and are inspired?
-socially- do you feel loved by and connected to others?
-emotionally- do you feel you can cope with your feelings? do you feel you have positive outlook towards yourself and your life currently?
-environmentally- do you feel safe where you live? do you have the resources you need to feel comfortable in your environment? can you manage your day to day responsibilities?
From this assessment you can make an action plan or goal that helps you obtain what you need. When you take the time to truly reflect on your own needs the distractions that keep you from seeing your own needs can disappear. When you’ve realized what you need you can begin the process of finding appropriate and creative solutions. If its time away schedule plans sometime this week to do something for yourself. If its sleep make sure you find ways to get it during nap time or having partner handle bedtime routine so you can go to bed earlier. If its physical issues make a doctors appointment or make a priority to shop for and consume healthy foods. Slow down and really take the time to think what would best address your needs, not necessarily what would just “make you feel better.”
I know its difficult to ask for help. That is another post in and of itself. But if you write down this action plan and stick to it you will start to feel more balance and more control in your life. What you need is important mama!