INSIDE: The importance of self-care and why it shouldn’t be an optional extra for busy mums. Learn how it affects your ability to parent and small practical ways to begin a self-care routine today.
Life as a mum can be exhausting, and we often leave ourselves right at the bottom of our list of priorities. Maybe your idea of taking care of yourself is spending just five minutes on your own in the bathroom or drinking enough coffee throughout the day so that you can keep your eyes open.
Perhaps the concept of indulging in daily morning meditations or making the time to go to a Zumba class, book club or just meet up with friends may seem entirely unrealistic.
But taking some time out for yourself is essential for so many reasons. Not only is it crucial for your own emotional and physical wellbeing, but without it, it’s impossible to be the best version of yourself for your family.
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Table of Contents
- A Self-Neglecting Habit
- Recognising the Importance of Self Care
- So Where Do We Begin?
- Final thoughts
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a self-neglecting habit
When you put yourself last and ignore the importance of self-care
Life is hectic, and there is always so much that your family needs from you. Do your days can feel like a tedious cycle of managing kids, work and the endless mundane jobs that need repeating almost as soon as they’re done?
So, you plough on, in a sleep-deprived state, striving to meet the needs of those you love, with little thought for yourself. But in doing this, you fill everyone’s cup but your own.
In disregarding the importance of your own self-care, you usually end up with the exact opposite of what you intended. Rather than being a vibrant, happy and capable wife and mother, you probably feel exhausted and grumpy, a shadow of your true potential.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
This is a familiar story for many women. But why do we let this happen?
As mums, it can be hard to admit when the going gets tough. Many of us seem to adopt a kind of perfectionist attitude as if there’s some badge of honour in doing it all. We believe that anything else would be a failure.
When you think about it, it’s a bit ridiculous. We don’t put such extreme expectations on anyone else, so why do we hold the bar so high for ourselves?
After a while, doing it all without allowing ourselves any time out to recharge becomes a self-neglecting habit. But it’s important to recognise how counterproductive it really is. It leads to burn out, which takes its toll on our health in so many ways.
The impact on your family
Such a disregard for the importance of our own self-care isn’t fair on our families either. It makes us tired, short-tempered and more prone to snap at those we love.
Burn out also stops us from putting adequate energy and focus into our relationships. This can lead to problems and disconnections within the family, which can, in turn, affect the emotional wellbeing of those we care about the most.
So next time you are tempted to dismiss the importance of your own self-care, stop and think. Consider how this self-sabotaging behaviour may actually be harming you and your family. Could it be preventing you from being the kind of mum you want to be?
Recognising the importance of self care
Time for a change
If this sounds like you, then it’s time for a change. You need to learn to value yourself as much as you do your family. You have to accept that your needs are equally important and stop putting yourself at the back of the queue.
Design yourself a more balanced life – one where you meet the needs of your family as well as your own. This will mean making intentional choices as life won’t just change on its own.
Of course, this is easier said than done, especially if you have spent a long time disregarding the importance of your own self-care. But just take baby steps – You don’t need to rewrite your life overnight.
You may have to step outside of your comfort zone, but it’s worth it. You can create a healthy, joyful life for yourself, from which both you and your family will reap the rewards.
Won’t my family miss out if I take time out for myself?
But what about your family, won’t they suffer if you start indulging your own needs? Far from it. As you begin to feel rested, happy and reenergized, they will reap powerful rewards. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
As mums, we often feel guilty for wanting to spend time or money on ourselves, believing this should instead be channelled into the needs of our family. But why should that be the case?
As long as our kids are well cared for, and we don’t put ourselves in debt, there is no reason not to invest in ourselves. And this sets a great example to our kids; teaching them how to value themselves and in turn, take care of others.
so Where Do We Begin?
If you’re not used to taking care of yourself, then this can be a difficult habit to break. So, start small; give yourself half an hour each day to do something that makes you feel good. Maybe take a bubble bath or play your favourite song. Can you find ten minutes to sit in the garden with a cup of tea and a book?
Take a rounded view
Self-care involves looking after all the elements of your life. Take some time to think about each of these and to decide how you can best nurture yourself in each area.
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Below are the areas of your life which may have become a little neglected. Consider each of them and how you could make ongoing changes to improve the overall quality of your life.
We all know the difference a good night’s sleep can have on our mood, outlook and productivity. So, make this a priority. Work on establishing a regular evening routine where you can wind down and get a decent night’s rest. Take the health risks of sleep deprivation seriously. Those who frequently get less than six hours of sleep a night may suffer from increased weight gain, depression, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
I used to suffer from terrible insomnia. But I cut down on caffeine and now spend a screen-free hour before bed journaling and reading a book. Although I miss Netflix, it’s made such a difference! Maybe you could try some small self-care tactics such as these and see what happens.
The benefits of exercise are well documented for both our physical and emotional wellbeing. But it’s essential to do something you enjoy. Self-torture is not the name of the game!
Do what appeals to you. Maybe that means training for a 5K run, taking up Tai Chi or doing an online fitness class. Make sure whatever you choose is fun and that you feel better for it.
For me, I enjoy doing an early morning online walking exercise class with Leslie Sansone. Believe me, it’s tougher than you think, and it’s done wonders for my health and fitness. Why not give it a go?
I also love popping in my earbuds, listening to something on Audible and taking my dogs for a long walk. If you are looking for a good book to start with, I highly recommend Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s inspiring and will help you create the lasting habits needed to make self-care part of your everyday life.
When you’re tired and busy, it’s easy to grab something quick and convenient to eat. But this isn’t always the healthiest option.
Try to consciously make healthy choices, to nourish yourself with the best quality foods. This will make you less sluggish, create fewer cravings for sugary processed foods and will keep your energy levels higher for longer.
This conversation on the Feel Better Live More Podcast entitled, ‘Eat These Foods‘ between Dr Mark Hyman and Dr Rangan Chatterjee will give you plenty of ideas about healthy food choices. It’s well worth a listen.
Have you allowed some of your friendships to drift because you have been so busy taking care of your family? Has this left you a little lonely and disconnected from the outside world? If so then it may be time to reconnect with old friends or perhaps make some new ones.
Related post >>> Lonely Mum: 6 Proven Ways to Help You Beat Loneliness
Perhaps you want to feel closer to your partner? It’s so easy for our relationships to become neglected due to the business of everyday life.
Prioritise some time together to get things back on track. Try doing something fun and different to quickly bring back the spark. Why not download my free Guide to 107 Unusual Date Night Ideas for some inspiration!
Find a moment for quiet reflection
Look for pockets of time when you can be quiet to focus on your inner wellbeing. Try meditation (I love the Meditation Minis Podcast), prayer, or journaling. It doesn’t have to take long. Even five minutes a day will bring you huge benefits.
Use these precious moments to consider your deepest beliefs, hopes and dreams: work out what really matters to you. Reflect on your day, your interactions and your emotions.
Finding time for these practices is one of the biggest changes I have brought to my life in recent times and their impact has been profound. I set my alarm early and do a ten minute meditation each morning before anyone else is awake.
Every night, I spend five minutes journaling, jotting down thoughts about my day. I also include a daily gratitude practice, where I note down three things I am thankful for.
If I’m honest, I was a little sceptical when I began. But I can’t describe what a difference these practices have made to my life. They have brought me such a sense of calm and wellbeing. Slowly, I’m beginning to understand myself far more than I did before. If I hadn’t allowed myself the time to do them, I would have missed out on so much. Maybe they could help you too.
Make housework a family affair
Maybe it’s time to get your family to help with the household chores, rather than doing it all yourself? Why not try this free family chore wheel that I’ve created to get everyone involved without the arguments?
Even the youngest of kids can do their bit! Here’s a list of easy chores for toddlers to give you some inspiration.
My book, The Peaceful Parent, contains further help on implementing some meaningful self-care practices into your life. In it, I discuss the 4 Practical Pillars of Life, namely ‘Sleep’, ‘Getting the Right Support’, Managing Your Tasks Effectively’ and ‘Learning How to be Kind to Yourself.’ I help you understand what makes you lose your cool when your kids press your buttons and find ways to become a calmer, happier and more peaceful parent.
If the guilt sets in
If you start to feel guilty for spending time on yourself, remind yourself that you can serve your family most when you are refreshed and the best version of yourself. Treat yourself with the same compassion that you treat others. Ignore any critical voices in your head that try to tell you otherwise.
Be a shining example to your kids
Do you want your kids to recognise the importance of their own self-care as they grow up? Then show them how you look after yourself. Let them watch and admire as you will flourish in all aspects of your life as a result.
Your kids will learn from you and copy what you do. You will become their positive role model, teaching them self-respect and how to present the best possible versions of themselves to the world around them.
If you’ve been neglecting yourself lately, I hope this post helps you find little ways to take better care of yourself, which bring some noticeable benefits to your life. I’d love to hear about your journey in the comments below.
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Thanks for reading,