You may think it’s more important to tend constantly to the needs of other people rather than yourself. This appears at first glance to be the selfless, even saintly, way to behave. Aren’t mothers supposed to put the needs of their family first?
In actuality, you will care for your loved ones better by taking time to refill your own well. If you are constantly on call, with no time for yourself, you will eventually run out of energy. Giving yourself a brief time to tune in and recharge will help ensure you are able to respond to the very real needs of your children as well as the rest of your family.
One thing you may not have considered is that you are a role model for your children from the day they are born. As such, you have a responsibility to show them how to care for themselves by taking care of yourself. Mothers have wept over the realization that they had modeled a lack of self-care for their daughters until it was nearly too late. Our children learn far more from our actions than from our words. If you want your children to take healthy time and space for themselves as adults, you need to show them how.
While meditation can be extremely helpful, you don’t need to sit down and meditate to take 10 minutes for yourself. You can go for a short walk, just sit in a quiet spot inside, outside, or even in the car (while you’re not driving). Sometimes I actually have to lock myself in the bathroom for 10 minutes to get the time and space I need, but it is worth it.
If you are a stay-at-home mom who is normally with your child (or children) 24 hours a day, I encourage you to find a creative way to take an hour or two away at least once a week while your baby is being properly cared for by another adult. This will allow you some mental and physical decompression time. It’s amazing how much more you can appreciate the miracle of life that you helped create when you have a small amount of space that other people take for granted. Just being away for a short time can open you up to wholeheartedly enjoying your family even if you thought you were too tired to do so.
When your inner self begins to realize that you are consistently taking a little bit of time and space for yourself, you are likely to find your overall mood and body image improving. There is something extraordinarily healing about saying that it is O.K. to take up some room in the world, that it is O.K. to be. This simple act can create a positive upward spiral into a healthier sense of well-being. Therefore, taking time for yourself is a proactive way to become a healthier, better adjusted, more response-able human being, mother and partner.