Author Julie Burton talks to us about the importance of taking care of your own needs while caring for your family, and the inspiration behind her new book, “The Self-Care Solution.”
Are you from the Twin Cities originally?
Yes, I was born and raised in St. Paul.
Your first book, “The Self-Care Solution—A Modern Mother’s Essential Guide to Health and Well-Being” is coming out this May. What was the inspiration behind the book?
I have been working on a motherhood book for many years, but my original approach was more of a tell-all, best-kept-secrets-of-motherhood type of book. My inspiration to focus on self-care occurred as I pored over hundreds of surveys and interviews that I conducted with mothers all over the country about the trials and tribulations of motherhood. I realized that there was a definite hot-button question for the majority of moms surveyed—“How do you take care of yourself while caring for your family?” In reading the wide array of answers, which ranged from “I don’t. I always put myself last,” to “I am intentional about taking care of myself. A happy mom is a happy family.” I could feel the emotions fly off the pages. I knew that this is what I needed to be writing about.
Also, as an eating disorder survivor, I had struggled with self-care at various points in my life. I had reached a point in my motherhood journey where as much as I loved and appreciated my four children, sometimes I felt like I was being swallowed up in the sea of motherhood. Writing The Self-Care Solution prompted me to delve deeper into the inner workings of physical, emotional, mental, relational and spiritual self-care in an effort to help moms (like me) understand that taking care of themselves is just as important as taking care of their children, and that self-care is an essential component of being a happy and healthy woman, mom and partner.
Mothers tend to put themselves behind everyone else in the family. How do you think women can meet their own needs while still being present for the family?
I think that many mothers need to reframe the way they think about self-care. Self-care, or meeting your needs, is not about being selfish or about neglecting your family. Self-care is linked to a sense of worthiness, and a commitment to honoring and respecting yourself so you can better serve others.
Implementing realistic and regular self-care practices into your life requires intention, commitment, a support system and a good amount of flexibility. It is helpful for moms to be in touch with their needs and communicate them with their partner, friends and their children when they are old enough to understand.
There will be times when self-care will feel impossible, given all the different directions in which moms are pulled. But it is essential for moms to remember that when they are running on empty, they are not able to be the kind of mother, friend, or partner that they would like to be. So, even when it feels like an uphill battle, moms need to continue to stay positive, advocate for themselves, and seek creative ways to ways to meet their needs. Because they are worth it! And because they are role models to their children, who need to learn the value of self-care.
Can women really have it all or is it an impossible task to give equal attention to a career, a family and personal growth and keep it all going?
While I do think that moms can have a career, family, and personal growth, I also think that moms need to understand that all of these areas will not line up perfectly. As moms continually strive to find balance in their lives, they need to be kind to themselves (self-care), and understand that just because mom has to miss Billy’s soccer game to attend a work function or a Torah study group, doesn’t mean she is a failure as a mother (no matter what the Jewish guilt tells her).
Mothers cannot avoid feeling pulled in multiple directions—it comes with the territory. But by practicing regular self-care (exercising, eating well, making time for your partner, friends, family, spirituality), moms have a better chance at cultivating the strength and grounding needed to constructively divide their attention and set clear boundaries—knowing when to say yes and when to say no.
What’s your most important piece of advice for mothers?
It is not selfish to take care of your needs. Figure out what fuels you and what makes you happy, and do these things on a regular basis. Believe that you will be a happier, kinder, more generous person by practicing self-care, and this will be a true gift that you will share with your family and everyone around you.
How can moms be more supportive of each other?
I think there is a lot of room for moms to treat each other with more kindness, compassion, honesty, and acceptance, and less judgment and competition. Moms need the support and understanding of other moms, and yet so many moms feel judged and alone. I think if each mom could start by being kind and compassionate toward herself, she is far more likely to be kind and compassionate with other moms. Also, it is important for moms to remember this line: “Compare and despair.” Comparing oneself to others leads to immediate disconnection (which leads to despair).
So, I encourage moms to take a chance, reach out to other moms, and be honest with your joys and your struggles. And most importantly, choose kindness and connection over judgment and competition.
What’s next for you?
I am very excited to promote this book and share the self-care message with as many moms as I can. The Self-Care Solution comes out May 3 and I’ll be signing copies on May 6 at 11 a.m. in the Barnes & Noble in the Edina Galleria. I’m also thrilled to continue my work as the co-founder of The Twin Cities Writing Studio, and to begin working on my next book.
What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
I do love Hanukah. Our family has many wonderful Hanukah traditions, which include getting together with both my husband’s extended family and my extended family, which are both a lot of fun for the adults and kids. I am also continually inspired by the miracle of Hanukah story.
What’s you favorite Jewish traditional food?
I love a sweet carrot mold. My grandma’s was amazing!
To learn more about Julie or her writing, visit her website.Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!