The demands of being a mother can leave little time for taking care of ourselves. We can be really good as mums at caring for everyone else and forgetting to factor ourselves into the equation. Self-care is not selfish, but as a mum it often feels this way. Prioritising self-care as mum can be hard. First you have to deal with the guilt of taking time out for yourself and second of all you have to actually find the time to fit it in.
When I speak to mothers about this I often use the analogy of the safety talk on an aeroplane. The cabin crew instruct you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else. Why? Because you can’t help anyone if you are dead. Being a mum is much the same. If you do not take the time to care for yourself and maintain your own wellbeing, then you won’t be able to take care of your family.
Another important reason is that our children are watching. They are learning from us how to be kind and compassionate to themselves through observing their parents take these actions. If we are not taking the time to care for ourselves, what messages are we giving to our children?
Taking care of ourselves doesn’t have to be extravagant. Often, it’s the tiny ways we show ourselves love that are the most powerful.
Here are a few ideas for incorporating self-care into your life:
Make time for a pleasurable activity each day
It doesn’t matter what it is, it could be as simple as reading a magazine or taking a bath, it might be a hand massage or watching a favourite tv show. Whatever it is, it is important to ensure that each day there is time for something that matters to you, something that can bring a smile to your face or uplift your mood if only for a few minutes.
Connect with people
Ensure that you make time to connect with people that matter to you. It might be arranging a dinner with friends, joining a mothers group or support network or having a coffee with other mums from your child’s school.
Mindfulness is wonderful for allowing us to slow down and really be present. When you’re a busy mum often this can be hard as you might be constantly juggling 101 different things at once. But making time each day to be mindful can really make a difference for your mood and your wellbeing.
Exercise can often be pushed down the list of priorities. But it is so important for maintaining wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be slogging it out at the gym, simple activities that form part of the everyday can be a great start.
Have interests outside your family
Your children need to know that you are more than just Mum. Having interests and activities that matter to you should also be nurtured. Engaging with these activities is great for maintaining your sense of self and caring for yourself.
Mum’s are very good at beating themselves up for not being good enough or meeting the perceived idea of the ‘perfect’ mother. As a mother, we only need to be ‘good enough’. So, cut yourself some slack and as long as you are ‘good enough’ you can know that your children will be just fine.
Take some time to think about how much you have invested in self care in the past week. And if you determine that it wasn’t much, see if you can schedule in some activities for the week ahead. Sometimes we may need to plan ahead to make sure we are caring for ourselves but at least this way it happens.
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