Many Mums are awesome at looking after their children – nurturing, feeding, loving, playing, educating, disciplining and laughing.
Many of those Mums are also great at looking after their partners – again, loving, caring & laughing.
Why then, when we are the ‘experts’ at looking after others, do we often do such a poor job of looking after ourselves?
This is a concern, on a few levels.
If we keep ‘giving’, without replenishing ourselves, we reach a stage of ‘emptiness’. As a Parenting Consultant for 17 years, I’ve seen many women who love the early years of parenthood, and then they start to look tired and worn out, which can lead to resentment.
Now we all know parenting can be both fulfilling and exhausting. A Mum who looks after herself, will be able to more easily cope with the various things which can happen in a day with youngsters – drawing on the walls, cutting their sisters hair, and vegemite hugs!
The second concern with not looking after yourself as Mums, is the modelling aspect. As we know, children model both our positive, and our less desirable traits. If you are tired, constantly giving, and never doing anything for yourself, this is the image you are presenting to your children. To your female children you are saying, (through your actions): ‘When you grow up honey, you can be tired and run-down like this’. And, to your male children, you are saying: ‘When you grow up, find someone like me, who’ll do everything for you’. Is this the message you want to convey?
Wouldn’t it be great, to model for them – strength & fulfilment, love & receiving, nurturing others & self-care – isn’t that what you really want for your children?
So, how do we find ‘Me-Time’ when there’s washing to hang out, a toddler who wants you to paint, and what’s for dinner?
The answer lies in the amazing way in which Mums are able to organise and multi-task every day! Think of what you do when you go out with a young baby – nappies, wipes, change of clothes, toys, books, food etc. We are capable organisers – so let’s utilise that strength!
Open your diaries right now, and pick a time this week, and write in “Me-Time” – ideally a 2 – 3 hr spot. I can already hear some of you giving me excuses why it’s not possible. However, if it were an appointment for the dentist or Canteen duty, you would do what you needed to do, to keep the appointment. You can do this!
Many of you have sisters, friends and neighbours who have children similar ages to yours. Build those friendships, by having them over for play dates, at your home, or theirs. Once you know and trust them well enough, that’s when the magic of “Me-Time” begins — the two of you agree that (eg) Tuesdays 9am -12 noon is “Me-Time”. One Tuesday you drop your children off to their place, knowing they will be well cared for. You now have 3 hours just for you – a walk, a bubble bath, painting your nails or to read a book and drink a whole cup of hot tea! Imagine how refreshed you would feel, and how you would greet you children (and partner) once again with a big smile. Next week, you reciprocate for your friend. How good would it be to have that time regularly? – value yourself enough to make this happen!
One suggested ‘rule’ is that in “Me-Time” there is no housework to be done! – this is about nurturing yourself… You and your children deserve that!
Image by Andrés Nieto Porras via Flickr