Can you be a good mother and prioritise YOUR self care?
I would say not only is it possible. It is VITAL!
Many people dismiss the idea of self care as an indulgence. It is often seen as being about things like massage, manicures and weekend spas away from your family.
It can be something that comes with guilt and a sense of not meeting your obligations. The idea of putting your needs before others is so counter to the idea of the idea we are given of what a good mother should be.
I want to challenge so much about this notion.
A good mother needs to be as well as she can be, physically and emotionally, if she is to be able to give her children all they need from her.
Motherhood is exhausting, demanding work. Particularly if you are juggling a job, maybe taking care of other relatives, and trying to maintain a relationship with a partner.
A good mother needs to show her children that she values herself and the role she occupies in their world. She is not a slave to her children. She is there to provide for them, yes, but also to guide them to know how to be in the world.
She teaches her sons how to view women. She teaches them to respect and value the women in their life. Through her example, they learn to see them as people with needs, interests and lives of their own. They can learn that women do not have the man in their life at the centre, but as an equal to complement their life.
She teaches her daughters how to value themselves, how to be mothers, and how to stand up for themselves. Through her example, they learn to see their own worth. They can see they have a greater purpose in life other than to do for others at the expense of their own wellbeing. She learns, from her mother’s example, how to take care of herself AND those she loves.
Self care is not caring for yourself instead of those who depend on you, It is caring for yourself as well as them. It is caring for you so that you can care for them.
When a mother values her own self care, and sets boundaries around herself, she teaches her children how to do the same. She models how to care for themselves, how to protect their own energy, and how to develop their own self care.
Self care is not about luxurious indulgences. Yes, these are nice as treats. I love a massage, a yoga retreat and a manicure as much as the next woman, but these are treats. They are not my self care tools.
Self Care is what keeps YOU well
Self care for me is making sure I get enough sleep. Eating well, and recognising when I have eaten too much rubbish. Making sure I exercise, meditate, practice yoga, and remember to breathe deeply.
It is about taking my ADHD medication, making sure I have my asthma inhaler with me. It is knowing that if I forget, I have tools that will enable me to stay calm and get through the day without panic.
Time with friends, family, my children and people who uplift and inspire me.
Long walks, fresh air, music, dancing, laughter and lots of herbal tea are vital tools in my self care toolbox.
Writing my thoughts down, and being aware when my emotions are running out of control and making me think things that probably not true. Self awareness and self study teach me who I am. This helps me grow and let go of past pain. It shows me the triggers and patterns that might trip me up in life.
Even things like making sure I make dental and medical appointments, taking care of my finances, and keeping my home tidy and clutter free all count as self care for me.
Doing these things keep my stress levels down, my energy up, reduce anxiety and overwhelm, and bring me joy and peace. They help me develop the resilience and wellbeing I need so I can be the mother my son needs.. I have seen what happens when I don’t take care of myself. It is not good.
Self Care is not a list of ‘shoulds’
This is NOT a list of things you should be doing in your life. Self care is not something to feel guilty for not doing. It isn’t a list of tasks to add to your to do list. It is simply about making sure that you make space for you in your life
Self care is about making sure that you are able to manage your life. This requires you to be physically, mentally and emotionally healthy, and that your needs are met. This is not indulgence. It is survival.
There are many things you can do to maintain your own self care, there are 31 self care ideas here you can explore
What does self care look like to you?
How can you bring a little bit more of it into your life?