I think we all know the reasons self care should be your priority, and we all seek to find that perfect balance but it is easier said than done. This is my take on it, and also a couple of ways you can find that balance.
I have always been knee deep in the murky waters of motherhood. Partially because my only real guide and fallback on advice was google and great bottle of chardonnay). On a serious note, my mom passed away before I had kids, and by the time I had Sammy (my first born) I had also moved away from my friends, and we don’t have a huge family to support. I have navigated motherhood with a rusty compass and great luck.
I must be honest, with no one to give me some guidance, I was always trying to live up to societal expectations, and this can keep you quite busy. In a way I am grateful for no judging family eyes, but on the other hand it’s also hard and draining, to try and be the perfect mom, even if it is just in your own eyes. Then BOOM, one day you look in the mirror and wonder who the hell is staring back at you. You then realise that you have been lost for a while—overwhelmed and living minute-by-minute, not realising that you have slowly started moving your little human’s priorities over your own. What happened to you? That person who at one time had everything together? That person who others came to for advice on how to “have it all”? That person you once thought you were?
As mothers we have a tendency to put ourselves last because that’s what good mothers do, right? It is the nature of the game, it is how we have survived through centuries. We pass on that beautiful hand bag we long for, because our children needs another shirt he’ll only wear once and then grow out of. (My kids grow at the speed of light) We stop going to the gym, because the limited time we do have we feel should be spent with our kids (and we feel oh so guilty for leaving them with someone). We stop sitting down to take a break and eat standing in the kitchen because we haven’t left enough time for us to sit down and enjoy a meal. We give washing our hair a skip, as much as we’d like to (gross, but true), and we fill our schedules with activities, playdates, and the list goes on. All for our kids.
There are soooo many reasons why we do this. The obvious, we love our children relentlessly, so putting them at the top of our priority list is only natural. Then, we are bombarded with social media’s perfectly annoying Pinterest moms and articles on how women need to endlessly lean in and EMBRACE parenting. We are really, expected to do it all. What happens when you lean so far in, you fall over? In our quest to achieve this unrealistic status quo, we’ve left someone far behind, ourselves.
Truth be told, you can’t live in this miserable bubble. The time you do spend with your children, You actually start thinking about other obligations. My body participates, but your mind doesn’t. You start stressing about the future. Your work starts to suffer; you start losing your passion. Overall, you start drowning, gaining weight, letting your health deteriorate and questioning your purpose on a daily basis. Does this sound familiar?
Running this phantom race (which you are destined to lose) is not something you or I have to settle for. The stress we put on ourselves does not benefit our families or us. For us to be great mothers, wives, a good friend or just a good person in general, you need to make yourself a priority and re connect with the person you were and who you want to be.
The main thing is, the only one who can fix this is you. I want to highlight a couple of ways to do this.
Make more time for yourself
Know this. Your kids will survive by only having to do one activity instead of three. Learn to say no to birthday parties. You don’t have to do one every weekend day, or two in one day. Let your child pick one and attend that one.
Set Limits At Work
Decide what you will settle for and if it does not fit in with what you want to achieve, just find another position that will. There are so many options and working from home opportunities. We need to re-frame our minds from “scarcity complex” and realise there is abundance if we put our heads down and look for it.
Back down from being miss perfect
Its unachievable to be perfect because what is perfect to you is not perfect to everyone else so how do you measure it? Because it is not measurable you can actually just back down and become content with good enough. Good enough works. It frees up time for yourself and gives you an opportunity to be human. It is achievable and it is accommodating. Make friends with “Good Enough”
Be Respectful Towards Yourself
What does that even mean? It means that you can’t look at yourself in the mirror and say things like “you look terrible” or “jeez someone has been packing away some pies”. Ask yourself this question. If you had to speak to your friend the way you speak to yourself would you still want to be your own friend? Think about it.
No its not easier said than done. It is simple. Make a commitment to work out two to three times a week, this will become a routine. When people ask me “how do I get into it” the answer is really quite simple. Make the time and commit to executing.
Mental resilience and strengths is like any muscle, the more you practice and repeat, the better you get. I have written a guide on how to get the courage to start exercising again and you can read it here.
This does not mean you have to sleep. But your mind needs a break. Meditate, yoga, 30 mins in a nice warm bath are all ways of resting. This way, when you spend time with your family, or doing other day to day things you will be present. You enjoy it. They enjoy it.
I realize also that if you don’t have a strong support system, spouse or partner, making all these changes can be difficult, if not impossible. But, you will find neighbours or friends like I did who need “me” time just as desperately as I need them. When my husband travelled for work during the week, I joined forces with my son’s best friends mom in the same situation as me. We would take turns watching each other’s kids and also cook a little extra a few nights a week to save the other person the hassle. Even having a glass of wine and talking with her as our kids played was a nice relief.
It only takes a few small steps, and a commitment to yourself to make a big difference in your life. Once you push yourself to start making these changes, it gets easier to make yourself a priority too. Learning to connect with yourself and cater to your own needs only helps you be a YOU, a better mother, a better wife and friend. You deserve happiness just as much as everyone else does, and it’s yours for the taking. Start choosing you TODAY.