As moms, we hear the word "selfish" and think of it as a word of the past. Who has time to be selfish as a mama?! I know it seems out of character to say it's OKAY to be selfish as a mom, but it's actually really, really important. Now, hear me out...
In my new book, The Empowered Mama, I share with you how to be selfish, which is actually the polar opposite of how I behaved as a new mom. I was so busy trying to take care of my kids, my spouse, my house, my job, and all the other aspects of life that required my attention 24/7, that I completely failed to take care of myself.
What happened is no surprise: I totally burned out. I was depleted. I was exhausted and frustrated, and I felt like my work load was unfair; there was no balance in my life outside of my new role as a mom - outside of motherhood. I knew something needed to change, and it did...I learned how to be selfish. And, I learned that it was the best gift I could ever have given to myself, but also to my family, as well.
The word "selfish" definitely gets a bad wrap, as sometimes it should. But, that being said, it can also be a positive, so I'm going to redefine it as "self-ish"; as in caring for self.
Moms have a tendency to take care of everyone but themselves. However, your family needs you, Mama! Which means they need you to be happy, strong, and healthy. That can only happen if you are just a little bit selfish each day to spend time on recharging YOU!
I challenge you to redefine selfish to mean we are taking care of ourselves so that we can give back to others. As modern mamas, we too often sacrifice our health, fitness, nutrition and peace of mind for the needs and desires of our children, spouces, family, or friends. Two of the following things happen when we do so:
1) We fail to fill ourselves and become depleted
2) We demonstrate to our kids that we are low on our list of priorities.
When we fail to take care of ourselves, we run out of steam. How can we take care of our children if we are running on empty and depleted? When we live our lives as though we aren’t very important, we are showing our children that mom’s needs don’t matter as much as their own. Would we want our children to treat themselves the same way we do?
So I'm challenging you to put your health first. Yes, first. Above your kids, your husband and your job. Impossible? There’s just not enough time, so you surely can’t make health a priority. It would be selfish of you to care for yourself, right? Wrong! Chances are that you are the backbone of your family. When your kids get hurt, you have to be there to take care of them. When your partner/spouse gets sick, you're on call as a nurse. The reality is that you can’t afford and don’t have time to get hurt or get sick. But, you will. And you will absolutely will get sick or hurt more than average if you don’t take care of yourself and carve out down time for your body, soul, and spirit. There’s no cheating in health; you can’t postpone it and say that you’ll do it when you’re kids are off to college or when you retire. The longer you go without taking care of yourself, the longer and more severe the consequence for neglect. There's a reason flight attendants tell you to put on your oxygen mask before other's. Taking care of yourself is a service you do for your own health and well being, however, it is also a gift for your family. A strong and healthy mom can better care for her family.
What you won’t do for yourself, you will do for your family. So do it for your family. Eat well and exercise so that you can be a healthy role model for your kids. The fact is that they all take your lead. Aren't you or your spouse the one cooking the meals? If you aren’t eating well, neither will they. Your children should see that mom values her health and enjoys exercise, and your partner or little(s) may even get inspired by your increased energy from "you time". Your family - and yourself - will all benefit from you being in a better mood, less stressed and less tired.
So now, how to do it? Let my new book, The Empowered Mama, be your guide. It can help you figure out your priorities, help you organize your time, and help you navigate how to fit self-care into your daily, weekly, and monthly routine(s). In the meantime, here are 3 of my favorite self-ish tips:
1) Protect your mornings. If possible, wake up before your family and have your own little morning ritual to set the tone for your day.
2) Schedule exercise like any other apointment; there is always a way to squeeze some movement into your day.
3) Take a mommy time-out every day; even just 10 minutes to rest and recharge. It’s on the days you don’t have time that you need it most.