Making Every Day a Great Mother’s Day, Part 2

by May 11, 2021Encouragement, Self-Care and Stress3 comments

These every day practices go a long way toward making every day a great Mother's Day for moms of kids with special needs and disabilities.

Making every day a great Mother’s Day is a priority for guest blogger and mom of 3 kids with special needs, Heather Johnson. In her previous post she shared the deep loss that led to her new perspective. Today, she’s here with ideas she’s discovered that go a long way toward making every day a great mother’s day.

 Today is the day after Mother’s Day, 2021. Tomorrow, May 12, 2021 is the nineteenth anniversary of my mom’s passing on Mother’s Day in 2002. She was 65. I’m nearly 62. The older I get, the more Mother’s Day has become an historical marker reminding me that it’s my job to mother myself well, not only for me but for my kids, even now that they’re grown. The following practices have helped me survive and thrive, especially when exhausted physically, rubbed raw emotionally, and wondering spiritually what the future will hold for our kids with special needs.

Physical Health

I eat a healthy diet 90% of the time and eat whatever want 10% of the time. Remember, rigidity isn’t healthy! Besides, who can live without a daily dose of chocolate? (I always have a hidden stash of Dove chocolates and savor one every day which keeps my sweet tooth at bay.)

I exercise daily with a combination of aerobics, stretching, and strengthening/toning. Finding something enjoyable is most sustainable. For me, it’s speed-walking 2 miles a day (30 minutes), doing some sort of yoga at home (20 minutes) and working all muscle groups with free weights (10 minutes). I break it up into three sessions and often multi-task. One great combination is listening to an audiobook while walking.

Mental Health

As a former mental health therapist, I’ve counseled people about the connection between thinking, feeling and behaving. I practice (and I do mean practice) what I teach. First, I practice checking my feelings (glad, sad, mad or scared) without self-judgment. I examine and sometimes challenge the thinking that causes those feelings, and choosing helpful behaviors.

Second, I practice reminding myself that I can only control myself. Others are in charge of themselves. I practice recognizing what I can and cannot do and learn to let go of what I can’t change.

Third, if you ever get to a point where depressive/anxiety symptoms are chronic and all other attempts at healthy lifestyle don’t help, seek professional help. I have been in therapy off and on throughout my adult life and also have taken medication. It’s ok to do what you need to do to improve and sustain your mental health.

Spiritual Health

Our souls need care, too. What centers you, brings you balance, brings you peace that lasts? For me, it’s my relationship with God. I find guidance and comfort in God’s word—the Bible. I read passages with promises regularly and hold them tightly as the lifeline they are. God never promises an easy life, but God does promise a fulfilling life when we trust him and walk in his ways.

So, what about you? What can you do about your physical, mental, and spiritual health to start making every day a great Mother’s Day? I suggest you start small and easy. Write down your goals (weekly, monthly, annually). Mark your progress. Celebrate every success, no matter how small. If you fail, that’s okay. Get back on track. Stay positive. You can do it! Progress is key, not perfection. Do it for yourself and for your kids. Life is a long-haul so make the journey as enjoyable and healthy as possible.

Now, how about a little piece of Dove chocolate?

Part 1

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By Heather Johnson

Heather MacLaren Johnson and her husband have three kids, all five and under when adopted from Russia. Now 29, 27, and 22, all need regular help with their multiple, permanent, invisible disabilities stemming from prenatal exposure to alcohol (FASD).

Heather has B.S. in Education and a doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She is the author of Grace, Truth, & Time: Facilitating Small Groups That Thrive and has published personal essays in The Wonder Years: 40 Women Over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty, and Strength (Kregel Publications) and Your Story Matters: Finding, Writing, and Living the Truth of Your Life (NavPress). She’s writing a memoir about her family’s journey through hidden disabilities and mental illness to encourage others to greater intimacy with God and each other through times of desolation and lament.

Heather and her husband of 27 years live with two horses, two dogs, two barn cats, and a bunch of silk plants she just dusts. Heather writes and photographs at


  1. Rhonda Gruis Anderson

    Thank you Heather for being real. Love you for opening your heart

  2. Heather MacLaren Johnson

    Leslie! Thank you for reading and responding. I’m glad you think my example can help other moms. That’s my prayer. You’re a dear friend who knows what I’ve experienced while parenting three kids with special needs—three kids, now grown, whom I a-sore. You’re a dear friend, a faithful prayer warrior, a tremendous encourager and my #1 writing mentor. Besides all that, you are an amazing mother of SIX grown kids! Whew! You’re an inspirational example to me and MANY others of godly mothering and how we mothers CAN take care of ourselves while also caring for our loved ones.

  3. Leslie Fields

    Heather, I love the practical help here for mothers. Keeping ourselves healthy is the first line of defense to helping our family to stay healthy. You have experienced SO much. Everything you write and share comes from deeply experienced knowledge. I learn so much from you!!!

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Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.



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