15 ways to take care of yourself for your son’s wedding

15 ways to take care of yourself for your son’s wedding

A mother of the groom wrote to me about her upcoming son’s wedding and an intimidating list of obstacles and issues riding along with the event. I could hear the oncoming train wreck miles and months away. When considering how to help her walk through these minefields, I realized that the best thing she could do for herself and others was to purposefully put herself first. However far they say we’ve come, most women still take care of everyone else before themselves. Sadly, we’re usually dead last on our own priority list. In my experience, it is much more difficult to do what others need us to do if we are not also caring for ourselves. If you’re old enough to be the mother of the groom, you may have already noticed that age does not make this easier. It’s a reality.

Also, most of us also try to do too much. I am particularly guilty of this. My husband loves to tell me I can think of more things to do than I can do. It can be paralyzing. For my son’s wedding, I took on more “to do’s” than I should have and created more stress for myself than was necessary. No one pushed me to do this. I did it to myself. There’s a good chance someone reading this struggles with this too.

So under the best circumstances, the period leading up to your son’s wedding puts pressure on your schedule. Showers, rehearsal dinner planning, deciding what to wear – these are all fun, but the accelerated list of things to do can take a toll on your mental and physical well-being. The demands from the rest of your life probably won’t take a recess. Add in extra common stressors like additional financial burdens, dealing with challenging family members or an ex, or health issues, and you have a recipe for overload. With this in mind, here are a few suggestions for taking care of yourself so that you can be your best on your son’s wedding day.

Listen to your body

  • Stop before you’ve overdone it.
  • Stay hydrated. Simple advice, but when I get busy or overwhelmed, this is one of the first things I forget to do and then so many other things are harder.
  • Walk, run, swim, bike, go to the gym. If you already do this, keep it up. If you don’t, find something you enjoy that will get you moving and do it. Exercise is the arch enemy of stress.

Do what you love

  • Be good to yourself. Make a list of things you enjoy doing and in the weeks ahead, do as many of them as often as you can. Make sure at least once a week you are doing something purely for the pleasure of it and if you can manage this daily, all the better. Good times give you strength for the moments that aren’t so great.

Rally your troops

  • Make it a point to spend time with supportive friends and loved ones. Allow them to fill your emotional bank account. This will give you a reservoir to draw upon in difficult moments. Stay connected, even if it’s just by phone or messaging, with people who “have your back.”
  • Let them help. Make a list of things you need to do leading up to the wedding. Assign anything that can be done by someone else to these troops. Don’t hesitate. If delegating is not easy for you, now is an awesome time to get better at it. Consider this: if someone you cared about asked you for help, you’d be there for them, right? Give them a chance to do the same for you.

Say no to negativity

  • Avoid toxic people, situations and stress as much as you can. This will keep you from depleting your emotional savings unnecessarily. If it makes my stomach hurt, I do my best to avoid it. I advise you to do the same.

Let go of your fears

  • Leave them behind.

Disclaimer: I have no license, no mental health training or any other documentable, capitalized alphabets after my name accreditations. Experience is my only expertise. That said, I propose the following exercise as potentially helpful. You can decide whether or not you want to try it. Here goes:

Gather up a stack of index cards or slips of paper. Write one thing you dread about this upcoming experience on each card. Use as many cards as you need. When you’ve recorded every thing about this wedding that is making you nervous, every imagined scenario that scares you, put all of the index cards into an extra small tote bag or suitcase. Keep this where you can see it, but when it is time to make the trip, notice where it is and very deliberately leave it at home. Once you are on your way, anything that comes to mind that is in the bag you did not bring, remind yourself that you left it at home. Therefore, you can’t be affected by it. When you get back, ceremonially shred the evidence. In this final action, you may, or may not, spend time thinking about which of these fears actually caused problems.

Know who you are

  • Regardless of what you wear, where you sit or what happens at any other time during the wedding and all that leads up to it, know that you are the woman who raised the groom. You played a huge role — almost certainly the biggest role — in shaping him into the man the bride has chosen as her mate. You are the mother of the groom. No one else can wear those shoes but you. You will be the mother and mother-in-law of this couple and the grandmother of their children. You matter. You are and always will be an important person in their lives. Get this truth firmly planted in your mind now and hang onto it every single second of this journey. Next to taking care of yourself, this is my most important counsel.

Have a strategy for the hard stuff

Like dealing with your ex. Or his new wife or girlfriend. The rude relative or the one who hit on you a few years ago. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Kindness, the most basic definition of etiquette, is an awesome weapon. There’s a reason they say to “kill them” with it. It is never the wrong thing to do and always reflects well on you. Make this your goal when you are dealing with people with whom you have difficult relationships. They are probably uneasy too.
  • Appoint one or two people to be your emotional bodyguards.They may casually intervene or join the conversation when you are cornered by the people who make you the most uncomfortable, making it much easier for you to extricate yourself. Your drink needs refilling, right? They may politely interrupt with the message that you are needed elsewhere. “May I have this dance?” And so on.

Pace yourself

  • Especially during wedding week. Prioritize your time and manage your own schedule. Obviously you must be at any event you are hosting or co-hosting. Some weddings, though, involve numerous gatherings over several days. I have heard of as many as 17 different events during the wedding weekend! If you are in a similar situation, don’t be afraid to admit you may not have the energy to go to every event and still be your best for the wedding. I suggest asking your son which of the rest of these gatherings is most important to him, which he really wants you to attend. Be at those if you can. Similarly, do not feel you have to be there when they turn the lights out for anything other than an event you are hosting. You need your rest. (See the first tip.)

Say no to people-pleasing

  • You already know you can’t make everyone happy. Trying will wear you out. Please your son and his bride as much as you can and let the rest go.

Make lists

  • Packing lists. Checklists. Shopping lists. Grocery lists. Lists of things to do, pictures to take, what to have in your purse. You may even need a list of lists. Basically, if you think about it, especially when you should be sleeping, put it on a list. Use paper or an electronic tool and put them in a spot where you can find them fast. These will save your sanity over and over again.

Care for your soul

  • Guard your quiet time. Whatever calms you, especially at night, do it. For me, a hot bath and a good book help. You may need to watch your favorite TV show, or spend time with your husband or significant other. Whatever healthy activity brings you peace, find a way to spend time doing it.

You’re going to be fine, one day (or hour) at a time. Employing these strategies will go a long way toward not only getting you through the tough spots, but making your son’s wedding a cherished memory in the years ahead.