I know, I know. You’re constantly bombarded with the message that ‘self-care isn’t selfish’. As if you don’t already know that taking care of yourself is important. As if it doesn’t become yet another thing on your never ending to-do-list that becomes proof of overwhelm rather than a path to fulfilment.
As a mum of two young girls, I resent the message that not making more time for myself is entirely my fault and the source of all my problems. Why not get up at 4.45am for a work-out, a homemade green juice, a mindfulness meditation, gratitude journaling and spot of origami before the kids are up?
But ‘self-care’ doesn’t have to be a 40 day retreat in the Himalayas. And while we can often view taking care of ourselves as indulgent, deep-self-care is really about maintaining your physical and emotional wellbeing to avoid depletion, unhappiness or illness – definitely worth a few minutes a day, in my book. Here are three crucial reasons to prioritise your wellbeing – for yourself and your kids.
CONSTANTLY PUSHING THROUGH ON EMPTY WILL EVENTUALLY CATCH UP WITH YOU
It is genuinely really hard to take out 10 minutes to focus on your own needs, when you are juggling so many balls that hitting pause seems unrealistic at best, catastrophic at worst.
Last year, I ignored minor niggles with my health until they became more serious. One day, I sat down and literally couldn’t get up as something in my back unexpectedly gave way. Every reason I’d ever given myself for why I can’t slow down or ask for more help came back to haunt me, as I spent several medicated days in serious pain, unable to get out of bed, let alone blitz anything on my to-do-list or even give my kids a proper cuddle.
I had no choice but to slow down and hand over the reins, and in doing so I realised that it is something I have to do more often to prevent physical and emotional burnout that has a negative impact on everyone I try so hard to support.
IGNORING OUR NEEDS IS AN UNHEALTHY MODEL FOR OUR CHILDREN
We throw everything we can into being great mums, and in doing so, slip further and further down our list of priorities. Sacrifice comes as part of the role: our children aren’t able to care for themselves and need us to nurture, support and protect them – and there’s nothing wrong with that. It is important to pay attention to where what we say and what we do don’t quote match up, though.
I always instill in my girls how important they are simply by virtue of existing, and that they should never allow anyone to convince them that they do not matter. But we all know that children internalise what they see us doing habitually, and if what we show them is that being a mum means everyone else comes first all the time, regardless of how exhausted we are, aren’t we undermining any lessons that we teach about their intrinsic value?
I know that I would be so upset to see my kids treat themselves the way I often treat myself, and the best way to avoid that happening is to show them that I – and they – deserve better.
THRIVING NOT SURVIVING
This can be a tricky one, because it requires us to push past the notion that fun, joy and creative pursuits are indulgent. But dragging ourselves through each day, and then beating ourselves up for not feeling more grateful with our lot is unfair. We all have a basic human right to be happy.
Breaking out of our day-to-day routines to try something new, take up that old hobby we used to love so much or take the time for deeper connections to people other than our children, creates space to fill up our tanks enough to have more to give to them – while having enough left for ourselves.
Considering all that we give as parents, we are more than entitled to our own moments of real joy, fulfillment and rest that lay the foundation for us to thrive, and in turn teach our kids how to do the same.
To find out more about working with Adanna, click on her profile at the top of the page.