As a kid who was lucky enough to experience air travel, I never understood why during the safety demonstrations, they would tell you to place your own mask before assisting others. To be honest, I thought it was a pretty selfish suggestion. Wouldn’t you want to make sure your loved ones are safe and protected before yourself? I carried this belief well into my adulthood and into motherhood.
When we think of our Mum and the ‘maternal ideal’, we think of warmth, affection, nurturing and unconditional love. As mums, we do this without a thought, in a split second. Self sacrifice is a given and almost a rite of passage. Yet, when it comes to ourselves and making sure our needs are met so we can best love and serve our families, many of us often fall short. In my case, it was close to a year, until I had so much as a day to myself. While I thought I was being a ‘perfect’ mother by self sacrificing, I now know that it’s just the opposite and that it does indeed serve a greater good (you’ll hear why shortly).
So why is it that we struggle to show ourselves the love, nurturing and respect we show our loved ones? Could it be that we are just time-poor, emotionally and physically drained, hormone raged and just simply exhausted? Maybe. Or they could be a deep rooted psycho babble explanation but let’s just focus on a way forward.
For me, it’s been about starting to put myself first. I’m not talking all the time, but just sometimes. My intention this year, is to do something for myself, daily. Nothing too grand…not a weekly infrared sauna treatment, hot stone massage and pedi with a champagne lunch (though who would I be to knock that back, should I be presented with a weekly opportunity to do so ). Just something small, something I can treasure to show myself a little bit of love, that I am ME and that I matter.
Here are a few things that I hope help pave the way to a smoother road of self care:
Just say NO!
I think as women this is a tough one, especially people pleasing, A-type personalities, like myself. Once in a while, just say NO to your kids, your husband, your friends/family or colleagues or whoever is placing demands on you. Do something only because you would love to do it, not because you feel obliged which leads to resentment, anger, guilt, self loathing and so the cycle continues. Show yourself some love by respecting your own boundaries and by just saying NO once in a while. Who would you rather piss off, yourself or someone else?
Sure, it’s nice have a clean house, neatly made beds and a roast cooking in the oven but what’s really important, playing Holly Homemaker, or having some down time while your little one naps? I used to frantically clean up toys and books that were strewn all over the house throughout the day before I went to bed and while there is a satisfaction of going to bed knowing there’s a clean slate to start off the next day, nowadays, I have other plans for my ‘free’ time. I would rather use whatever precious time I have left in my day/night to do something for myself; get an early night or read, chat to a friend or just put my feet up with a movie, or even just paint my nails. I know it’s not a big thing, but you would be amazed a big difference this small change makes.
Be A Mum to Yourself
If you were watching your daughter, for example, treat herself the way that you are likely treating yourself, what would it do to you? It would be sad, heart breaking and you would want to shake her silly to take some time out for herself. Try and take a step back and look at yourself and be a Mum to yourself. What would you say to your daughter? Say it to yourself. Tell yourself, you are doing the best job you can do and you deserve some time out. It’s normal, healthy and necessary. Kids model what they see, and although it has taken me some time, I realise self love and self care is a valuable lesson for Miss A and unless those healthy and wise habits are modelled early, the cycle can easily perpetuate. I want her to grow up knowing she is the most important person in HER life and that taking care of herself (emotionally, spiritually and physically) isn’t selfish or self indulgent but showing herself true love and respect. What better way to teach her than to demonstrate it!