What You’ll Learn:
- How to define self-care
- Why self-care is essential in becoming a good parent
- How to create a self-care plan
Parenthood: It’s the time we need the most “self-care.” Unfortunately, it’s also the time when self-care lands dead last on our list of priorities.
In the early years amid diaper changes, round-the-clock feedings, and documenting every developmental milestone, we’re so wrapped up in taking care of our children, we either feel like we can’t — or we simply forget to — take care of ourselves. For most people (including me), prioritizing self-care seemed impossible after having children.
Before I was a mom, my list of much-loved activities included:
- Regular Exercise
- Rich Social Life
- Guitar Playing
- Voice Lessons
- Alone Time to Decompress
After having my first son, my list became:
- Take Care of My Baby
I was sucked into what I call the “Motherhood Vortex” — an all encompassing role that demanded everything I had and left no room for the things that had previously filled me up.
This can happen to any new mom, no matter how prepared you think you are for motherhood. It doesn’t matter how much help you have, or how fervently you insist you won’t be “one of those mothers who loses her identity.” The Vortex doesn’t discriminate.
It’s strong and it’s fierce. It can swallow you up before you even know what’s happening. And when you have a child who requires extra time and attention, you are even more susceptible to being sucked right in.
It took me three years of struggling to realize that, as impossible as it seemed, I needed to start prioritizing self-care. My health and my family’s health depended on it.
But first, I had to let go of guilt. (Easier said than done!) I had to accept that, not only was it ok for me to take care of myself, it was absolutely imperative in order to be the best mom to my two boys.
As soon as I made it my mission to do things for myself again, I began to feel like a new person.
If you think you’re being a “good” parent by putting yourself last, keep reading. I hope I can convince you to take care of yourself with the same attention and love that you give to your family. You will all be stronger for it.
What is Self-Care?
Simply put, it’s any intentional action you take to care for your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. It looks different for everyone. For some, self-care is journaling every night before bed or taking a relaxing bath, for others it’s exercising regularly, being out in nature, or keeping up a daily meditation practice. Self-care is anything that nourishes your soul on a regular basis to ensure that your tank is full.
Why is it Important?
If we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we show up for others in an engaged and present way? Self-care is absolutely crucial for your overall health and the health of your relationships. When you are overworked, overstressed, out of balance and overwhelmed, you cannot possibly be present for others — let alone yourself.
Prioritizing our needs before our children’s needs goes against our instincts as parents. If you’re like me, the first step you need to take is letting go of the guilt. Because as the oxygen mask in the airplane analogy so perfectly depicts, it is imperative that we take care of ourselves first in order to effectively care for our children.