You may think it's more important to tend constantly to the needs of other people rather than yourself. This appears at first glance to be the selfless, even saintly, way to behave. Aren't mothers supposed to put the needs of their family first?
In actuality, you will care for your loved ones better by taking time to refill your own well. If you are constantly on call, with no time for yourself, you will eventually run out of energy. Giving yourself a brief time to tune in and recharge will help ensure you are able to respond to the very real needs of your children as well as the rest of your family.
If taking care of yourself seems foreign, think about this for a moment. You are a primary role model for your children's lives. They will copy your actions more often than follow your advice. Many a mom has shed tears after becoming aware of the lack of self care they modeled during their children's formative years. You love your children and want to do right by them. Therefore, you need to show them how to take care of themselves by taking care of you! This will increase their capacity to be healthy, well balanced adults.
While meditation can be extremely helpful, you don't need to sit down and meditate to take 10 minutes for yourself. You can go for a short walk, just sit in a quiet spot inside, outside, or even in the car (while you're not driving). Sometimes I actually have to lock myself in the bathroom for 10 minutes to get the time and space I need, but it is worth it.
If you are a stay-at-home mom who is normally with your child (or children) 24 hours a day, I encourage you to find a creative way to take an hour or two away at least once a week while your baby is being properly cared for by another adult. This will allow you some mental and physical decompression time. It's amazing how much more you can appreciate the miracle of life that you helped create when you have a small amount of space that other people take for granted. Just being away for a short time can open you up to wholeheartedly enjoying your family even if you thought you were too tired to do so.
As you follow through with your new "self care" strategy, your unconscious mind will begin to trust the process. Your sense of well being and even body image may unexpectedly improve. When you behave as though you are a loved person, worthy of taking up space in the world, you will start to believe that it is actually O.K. for you to exist in the world. This cannot help but translates into feelings of better health and an increased sens of balance in the world, allowing you respond more easily and gracefully as a mother, partner or wife.