Nurturing is at the heart of motherhood. We nurture our babies as they grow the way we breathe air into our lungs. We don’t stop to think about how, or why, we simply do as part of our very being. Our nuances might differ, but at its core, I assume most parents want their children to grow into independent beings who experience life to the fullest.
We nurture our children with love so they learn how to both give and receive love. We nurture their unique gifts so they might find their passions and fill their souls throughout their lives. We nurture friendships so they learn the importance of relationships and community with the hopes they will form meaningful bonds and value the importance of connectedness as they grow. We teach them about healthy eating to nourish their bodies; the importance of exercise; the critical need for sleep and the list goes on. We do all this without giving it a second thought.
Mothers know how to nurture. Let me re-phrase. Mothers know how to nurture others.
In my first decade as a parent, I was hopeless at nurturing myself. I knew I should, but I simply didn’t know how to fit it all in. We had moved half way around the world to start our business; had a two year old, a new born, and a dog; and I was struggling just to keep my head above water. I don’t think I am alone when it comes to mothers tending to everyone else in the family and inevitably having nothing left for themselves (and in some cases, every family member, then extended family, then friends, then co-workers, and pretty much every other person in your orbit!). Arianna Huffington has so often used the analogy “you have to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others” to help women see the importance of self care, but most mothers seem to resist this basic principle and continue to put themselves last (if on the list at all!).
There is hope.
As I said, nurturing is the heart of motherhood. We are good at it. We know how to do it. We simply need to broaden our perspective to include ourselves. Whole Foods had a beautiful poster in their stores: Treat your body like it belonged to someone you love. How true this is. We need to learn to nurture ourselves with the same love and unwavering commitment we do for our children.
Secondly, millennial mums seem to get it. To be clear, I am not a millennial mother so can’t not speak from experience, but working in the world of nappies, I do spend a lot of time with this group of new parents and it is wonderfully inspiring. For me, anytime devoted to myself when the kids were little, even the smallest amount, was guilt ridden, and therefore was very rare. This new generation however, does not see going to a yoga class as selfish, but rather as nourishing themselves which is at the very foundation for nurturing their families.
And perhaps my biggest glimmer of hope lies in the fact that as mothers, we know our children learn by example. If we want them to know what a healthy relationship looks like, then date night is a must and time with our girlfriends is modeling the importance of those bonds. Talking about exercise isn’t the same as them seeing our commitment to doing it. If we truly want them to find their passions, we have to cultivate ours as individuals. In its simplest form, if want them to experience life to its fullest, we must model that ourselves.
They believe in putting their oxygen masks on first (perhaps because they have watched the insanity of Gen X mums perpetual exhaustion and are simply desperate to find a better way!). They don’t see it as selfish, but as the foundation for nurturing their children and their families.
Being a mother is one of the most challenging but rewarding jobs in the world. When you become a parent your priorities and perspective on life instantly shift, and at times you forget to look after yourself.
We’re often sleep deprived, exhausted and we feel guilty if we ever even think about taking time out for ourselves. So we forget about the importance of nurturing ourselves and don’t habitually consider the actual benefits of doing so.
It’s so easy to say, “yes, I’ll invest in myself”, but it’s incredibly hard to do, especially with little kids. Raising a family is emotionally and physically draining and mothers put themselves last on the list of things that need attention all the time. It’s like that analogy, ‘put your oxygen mask on first before attending to those younger than you’. This reiterates the idea that you need to look after yourself to then be able to care for others.
Some mothers feel that taking time for themselves is sacrificing time with their kids, or extra time that could be spent on house work or sleeping, but we all have to remember that as mothers, our health is critical for the whole family dynamic. We need to set a good example for our kids as don’t want them growing up not understanding the importance of self-love, so taking action and looking after our own needs is essential to ensure that we feel our best for the whole family.
The first step is understanding what it is that will make you feel rejuvenated. Whether it’s yoga, a long walk or just a bath, make sure you schedule that time for yourself. Be open when it comes to communicating your needs with your partner and let them help you find a solution to your “me time”. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and definitely don’t feel guilty doing so. You know what is best for you and your family, and never compare yourself to other mother’s and their situation. Everyone is different. Instead, listen to your gut, follow your intuition and do what you feel is right for you and your family.
Do you take “Me time”? SHARE with us in the comments below.
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