It’s true what they say: when you become a parent you give up selfishness and trade it in for selflessness. But it took me a LONG time to figure out that you can’t fill anyone else’s cup while yours is empty. You gotta put yourself on that priority list. Before the washing. Before the dishes. But after food though… Part of looking after yourself is keeping fed and watered.
Taking care of myself has started to become a little nagging thought that’s been getting louder until I can’t ignore it anymore, so of course, I started to do something about it.
The first step was finding something for me. I joined a Magnetic Hub group as the commitment is not too cumbersome. It really is an amazing thing to be a part of if you live in the Waikato region.
Second step was to have some weekly scheduled “me” time. So I go to the gym at least once a week, but I also have a Netflix date with my iPad once a week while hubby watches the rugby, and I’m re-reading a book on toddler discipline because I first read it 6 months ago and I need a refresher. Reading a parenting book can sound bloody boring but I love the author’s writing style and her parenting techniques make me feel like a confident and competent mother, even if for only an hour or so after I’ve put the book down.
I’ve scheduled three different beauty treatments in the last two months which is more than I’ve had done in the 18 months beforehand. lol. I think I’m finally getting there!
One thing I’ve felt guilty about is having my time split so heavily on the “work” side of my life and less so on the “family” side. I was fearful that by also insisting on “me” time, I’d only be chipping into my family time so I’ve been trying to schedule stuff while M is asleep, like TV or reading time, and scheduling appointments during lunch breaks, like a quick eyebrow shape, or nails, or a 30min mini gym class. I’ve also been getting nighttime haircuts for after M is in bed.
I’m telling you all of these trivial details because my insight from this whole process is that I was so worried that taking time for myself meant I was somehow being selfish. That having some things in life just for me was somehow indulgent and wrong to the point that I had to justify myself and fit things in so I didn’t compromise anything else in my life.
But that’s the problem with mama guilt: I ended up becoming a better mother for all that selfishness.
I feel refreshed and ready to handle a tantrum when I’ve just come back from the gym.
I feel energised to cope with piles of washing and stacks of dishes once I’ve been out for a quick coffee.
I’ve even realised that after a break I’m calmer. Slower. More mindful and patient. Instead of rushing through all the enraging household tasks I use them to involve Mackenzie – on the weekend, she arranged a pile of her clean socks for me while I folded the rest and she was quiet, interested and calm, then excited when I remarked on what a great job she’d done!
Without having space to be apart from her I’d not have had the mental clarity to notice an opportunity to show her a new skill and contribute to a task, rather then just ignore her pleas for attention and huff about how annoying my life is.
So take a lesson out of my angsty life and put yourself first, for at least some part of each day. You might just be a better mother, and a better person for it!