“I don’t have enough time to look after myself, and anyway, it is selfish to take time out for me when I have a family to look after – isn’t it?”

This is a statement I hear often from many of my clients and friends. There was a time I even said this.

I realised a long time ago through my own parenting experience, my business and the many parents I come across, there is one major factor that gets overlooked – if you are not okay, how can anything else be okay. If you are feeling run down, overwhelmed or undervalued why not try something new? I am going to share with you how you can get out of the old belief systems of selflessness and move into looking after self – being self-full. 

What does self-full mean? A few years ago I watched a YouTube video that featured Iyanla Vanzant, who is a best-selling author. The question was asked, “Is your cup full?” She spoke about putting yourself first and being strong in life. She said that doing this is not selfish it is self-full. Iyanla said, “It’s self-full to be first, to be as good as possible to you. To take care of you, keep you whole and healthy. That doesn’t mean you disregard everything and everyone. But you want to come with your cup full. You know: My cup runneth over. What comes out of the cup is for y’all. What’s in the cup is mine. But I’ve got to keep my cup full.” Hearing this was a light bulb moment for me – it changed the way I parented, gave to others, and especially how I looked after me.

From my years of experience personally and professionally, I have found that if you are not okay, nothing else will be, no matter what skill you adopt or distraction you create.

The relationship you have with yourself will determine how you think and feel, how you deal with challenges, as well as the relationship you have with everyone else in your life. Your level of self-esteem and the value you put on yourself will determine your performance and productivity. This is the first area to renew and polish up to fill your cup.

I like to use the metaphor of vehicles, as I believe life is a journey and people generally feel the silent and invisible push to move forward in their lives. Let’s look at the family car.  Parents feel a responsibility to keep the family car in good condition, up to a safe standard, using the right fuel and properly serviced so that their family can get from A – B in comfort and safety. The car expenses and upkeep are put in the family budget and scheduled, because this is important to have this asset in top condition.

As a parent, you can view yourself as important as your mode of transport.

You are in charge of getting your family safely from A – B (mentally, emotionally and physically). To do this you need to be in good condition, getting the right fuel and services. You need to view yourself as an asset to the family unit and most importantly have resources of time and energy to move yourself and family forward.

I will share with you the top nine ways I keep in top condition, and enjoy the ride that is parenting:

  1. Every morning before I get out of bed, I affirm myself and my family, I see my daily plan play out in my mind the way I would like it to go, make any adjustments, take a deep breath and get out of bed to start my day.
  2. I communicate regularly with my family on what is going on for me, and ask for support when I need it.
  3. I make sure I am properly fuelled! I drink enough water, I eat healthy food and I exercise in a way that is right for me. I find yoga and meditation keeps me mentally, emotionally and physically strong.
  4. I have regular activities and interests that are just for me. I pamper myself quarterly. I benefit so much from acupuncture and massage treatments that help with tension build up and tightness.
  5. I catch up with friends regularly who inspire me, make me laugh, support me and align with my life values.
  6. I make learning a priority. I find keeping my mind active and expanding, either through formal or informal education keeps me happier, healthier and feeling more resourceful when challenges show up. I love the saying by Charlie Tremendous Jones – “You will be the same person in five years time that you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
  7. I have learnt I don’t have to be Super Mum – I instead get Super Support!  Whether it is paid help, help from friends or within the community – I think about the best thing I can do to leverage my time or support myself and my children through certain issues, and then I ask.
  8. I am constantly checking in with myself, and asking, “what is the best use of my time right now.”
  9. I take time each week to celebrate my achievements, discoveries, my trials and my ability to overcome them. I acknowledge that through my mistakes I get closer to getting it right. I appreciate the lessons from life and my family. By doing this I can readjust and move forward easier.

Many years ago, while I was watching TV feeding one of my babies, I heard a celebrity who was being interviewed say that what he remembered and treasured most about his mother, and what he believed contributed to his massive success, wasn’t how much she loved him; it was how much she loved life. This simple statement struck a cord in me at the time. So much so, that since then I have strived to live my life in a way that shows abundance, resourcefulness and moments filled with joy and laughter – and that I am here to get the most out of each and every moment.

In doing this, I have seen that it has passed on certain attitudes and beliefs to my children, family and friends. My sincere wish is that your cup is always full, you can love life, and you can make looking after you a guilt free priority.

What are your thoughts? Is your cup full? Please share in the comments below.

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  • i think we are all different. Im a giver. I find that caring for others fills my cup. Thats why now that my children have grown and my husband passed away, I work with special needs children. I find I get more from the kids then I give.
    That being said I do need my alone quite time at night to recharge.


  • I didn’t look after myself for quite a while and I got to the point I could not cope with anything. Since then I am very careful to look after myself and I totally believe that if I am happy and engaged in life then everything else falls into place.


  • I always look after myself and my needs for my own well being and because I am the example for my children. I do not do guilt as it is pointless and an absolute waste of my valuable time and energy.


  • yes you have to take care of yourself so you can take care of others

    • Exactly – if you don’t take care of yourself – then you cannot care for others.


  • Good on you Kirsty! You have inspired me to the same.


  • My cup is more full than empty. I do spend more time on me and I think it’s important that my son understands that I work, do yoga, read a book, have time for me, and share non-child time with my husband. It’s the life we lead and model for our son, and I encourage my husband to have me-time too.


  • I found this article really interesting to read but, when I tried to put myself in the same position I just couldn’t make it work. Why, well even though I’m rebelling against the “wise”? words of my m-in-l that hubby comes 1st, then children, then house & then yourself last I find myself in a unique situation. My wonderful, caring husband of 20+ years married me knowing that I had several medical conditions that made working impossible & with symptoms that vary daily, weekly or even monthly. I get tired easily, have no libido yet etc yet I get up every morning grateful that I’ve woken up. We’ve raised 2 beautiful children (20 & 13yrs) & they too have medical issues which after our eldest was born was due to undiagnosed genetic condition on hubby’s side of the family. 1 child has had a brain tumour for 15yrs & the other a brain cyst from birth. Again some days are good & some bad but, again we look on the positive side that we still have them. No I’m not asking for pity or sympathy just saying as a parent there are some of us who through circumstance don’t get the “me” time that other parents can manage in their busy lives. Instead, we make adjustments & grab this “me” time when we can. Be it curled up with the dog & a cuppa for a 1/2 hr before school pickup or taking my youngest to a Blue Light Disco/Movie & while she’s there take my hubby to dinner at the cafe around the corner. I’m lucky & grateful hubby knows I can’t keep up the same pace as him so every weekend since we married he’s bought me breakfast, the paper & the dog while I lie in bed for an hour. In return, I’ll surprise him with vouchers for winery tour or fishing trip he can do with a group & leave the frantic pace of family life for a few hours.

    • Sounds like within your circumstances you’re doing wonderful. Seeing the positive sides is a way of living and a way of loving life as well. Good to hear you’re blessed with a loving and understanding husband !!


  • Thank you for this article. It’s so important to look after you but yet it’s so easily forgotten & often very hard to do. I will keep these tips somewhere I can read them ????


  • Thanks for your article,we all need to look after ourselves!


  • oh my, I wholeheartedly agree with the opening paragraph. scary. I need to make more time for me.


  • All easier said than done of course. This takes a lot of hard work to maintain.


  • There is a lot of information here it is almost exhausting to read! Just relax and be yourself and dont stress about how your day is going to go.(point 1) Things will be how things will be. IF you are constantly worrying how you are doing and “checking in with yourself” you are constantly setting your self up for failure. (point 8).


  • I think it’s important not to get so ground down that your kids never see you having fun.


  • I love your attitude. And also kids won’t remember a clean house. They will remember the time spent together playing, reading, travelling… I find that sentence at the end about love for life very powerful and motivating!!
    Thanks for the insightful article!!


  • Thank you for this article. I feel that I have reached a point where I am happy. I don’t think it’s always easy to reach that point. I think you really need to prioritise what is important to you and ignore the distractions, and viewpoints that are not in line with your values.


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