There is a thing that I call ‘Mum guilt’. How I explain it is, the feeling you get when you take time for yourself, time you COULD have spent with your family, or money you spent on yourself, but COULD have spent on your children. This feeling is very common and absolutely understandable. Of course, as a great parent, you should but your children first, this is what we, as a society, believe, it is an outward sign to the world that we are the great parents we should be. But just because this is the view of society and its what we have drummed into us, does that make it fact? I would argue not. Now, I’m not suggesting that we turn into selfish beings who disregard the need of our children for the sake of our own desires, I’m just suggesting that it is perfectly okay to ensure your own physical and mental needs are met and these are not ignored at the expense of being a ‘perfect parent’ as we all know, that doesn’t exist anyway, no matter what other people try to portray on social media.
If you constantly put the needs of others above your own you will, at one point or another, completely run out of steam. Constantly putting this pressure on yourself will leave you drained and exhausted, which may well then lead to more serious issues. Once the tiredness creeps in, you may find yourself slipping into a cycle of monotonous and repetitive days that consist of school runs, housework and work that leaves you with so little energy that your relationship suffers, you become irritable, down and utterly stuck. Being in this routine for a long time will inevitably lead to a downward spiral of anxiety, depression, a lack of confidence and self-esteem. This could even lead to a feeling of failure, which is a dangerous place to be.
Not only is this situation bad for you, it actually has a negative affect on your family too, the very people you were doing this for in the first place. Doing too much, putting too much emphasis on the needs of others and ignoring your own is the quickest way to fail the ones you love. Think about it this way, your day consists of getting up, getting the kids ready and off to school, going to work, picking up the kids, dinner, homework, baths, bedtime routine, clean and tidy the house… over and over again…. How long can you sustain this whilst still maintaining a relaxed and contented state? Before losing sight of who you used to be? Before feeling so stuck in the monotony of life that you feel entirely stuck in this never-ending downward spiral towards anxiety, depression, low self esteem and feelings of failure? When this happens, how much use do you think you are to your children, your partner, to others close to you? If you run your own resources of mental energy out you do not have enough left to give the best of yourself to the ones you love. Trying to do too much of the thing you want to do, be the best parent/partner, has inevitably led to you not being able to do it very well at all. What would you rather, give 20% of yourself to those you love %100 of the time, or give %100 of yourself to those you love %80 of the time, taking the other %20 of the time to make sure you are at your best, physically and emotionally. Now, these numbers are not proven or exact but I’m sure you understand what I’m trying to say here.
The good news is, you can make the changes you need to and start seeing the results relatedly quickly. I know there may be logistical issues around childcare and time that you are going to throw at me as excuses, but they are just excuses, you can, with a little planning and thought you can get round these challenges, but only if you truly want to make a change. If you continue making excuses you really need to question how much you really want to break this cycle you’re stuck in. I’m not meaning to sound harsh here, but the truth is, any change in your life comes from within you, and if you are not committed to making the change you wont see the results you want. So, if you have to get up an hour earlier, you have to take a longer lunch break, you have to get the kids to bed earlier a couple of times a week, you have to leave the ironing until the weekend, you have to buy takeout today, or you have to change your current routine completely, whatever it will take, you hve to do it.
Now, the type of self-care activities you choose are entirely up to you, this is your time, and you need to choose activities that will nourish you the most. Due to the current climate, there are so many online options for self-care that you don’t even necessarily need to leave you home to achieve this. The possibilities are endless, read a book, go for a walk or run, meditate, do yoga, crafts, play sports, a relaxing bath, gardening, baking, whatever it is that your body and mind need to feel refreshed is how you should spend this time, even sky diving if that does it for you! But it has to be entirely about you, no one else. Let go of the guilt and the need to please others, just for a while, and give yourself the freedom to just be YOU. You will soon see that those around you will greatly benefit from this as they will get the best of you rather than the tired and exhausted version they are getting now, and that, will make you feel amazing.
My first project as a life coach is launching in January. It is a coaching programme called “Unearth the Unrealised You”. The importance of self-care is one of the topics we will be covering as part of the 8 week course. Inside the programme you will get live training, group coaching, individual one to one coaching, as well as resources and information that will support you to become ‘unstuck’ and achieve your life goals, even if you don’t know what these are yet! Drop me an email and I will send you more information as soon as it’s available – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading.