Would you ever dream of looking your baby or child in the eyes and saying “Ugh, you’re so fat. Why can’t you just get it together?”
So why is it ok to look in the mirror and say it to yourself?
What about skipping meals? Would you even consider not feeding your baby because you’re too busy? Would you let your baby stay up too late to watch tv? Would you put soda in your baby’s bottle, or give him junk food at meals? Would you expect perfection from your child and guilt him for every misstep?
See what I’m getting at?
You wouldn’t, because you want to take care of your baby. This is good! Most of us were born with the instincts to nurture and care for our children, and aside from the occasional lapse, we provide them with the care that they need and is best for them.
But many of us are not willing to do the same for ourselves.
In fact, we do the opposite. We beat ourselves up constantly. We eat what we can grab, even if it makes us feel like crap. Or we follow diets that we hate but think we must endure. We neglect our basic needs for sleep. We go months without doing something nice for ourselves because everyone needs something from us. We put ourselves last on the priority list.
And what comes from this?
We begin to feel resentful. We don’t have energy to keep up with our lives.
We are trying to pour from an empty cup.
Self-care does not mean perfection. It does not mean dieting, it does not mean exercising long and hard, it does not mean being completely selfish while everyone around you fends for themselves.
It simply means that YOU are also put on the priority list.
It means that you’re thinking about what is best for YOU just as much as you consider what’s best for your baby.
It means eating food that you know will make you feel energized and keep you healthy, the foods that fight off illness and disease. It means moving your body when you can. It means getting fresh air and sunshine because it’s good for you. It means buying yourself clothes that fit NOW, not when you reach your goal size. It means delegating tasks when you can so you can make yourself a priority.
Close your eyes. Think about how you feel when you have not taken care of yourself. What kind of person are you? How do you treat the people around you? Are you grumpy? Are you flustered and foggy?
Now picture yourself when you are rested, eating well, have spent time with friends or read a book you enjoyed. Or imagine that feeling you have after a good workout, or a nice walk outdoors. What kind of person are you now? How do you treat those around you now? Are you relaxed? Are you happy and able to better handle stress?
Now, ask yourself, which of those two people do you want to be caring for your child? Which do you think your family wants to be around?
Which way do YOU want to feel?
When my oldest kids were little, I didn’t take care of myself. I put everyone else first. I stayed up late and grabbed convenience food constantly. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t eat vegetables. I was a stressed out, overworked, underslept, foggy mess.
Today, I am just as busy as I was back then, only with four kids now. At some point, I made an effort to rearrange my life and my priorities so that I was taken care of too. I put myself on the priority list. I am rested, calm, focused, and happy, and because of this, a much better person to be around.
I was doing the best I could back then, as I truly had no idea how to take care of me. I had no idea that the healthier foods and exercise would make me feel so much better. I thought that being a good mother meant spending all of my time and energy taking care of them, and sacrificing myself.
I was wrong.
I was able, at some point between baby 3 and baby 4, to figure out how to get myself back on the priority list. And what I discovered was that once I did that, no one else fell off the list – in fact, the list became much more efficient.
I had more energy, I felt happier, and my relationships with everyone around me blossomed, especially with my children. I had more to give because I was giving to myself, too.
I was able to enjoy my life and my babies.
Don’t mistake “taking care of yourself” for eating perfectly and having a perfect body or life. It just means getting in touch with what YOU need and providing it for yourself as best you can.
It also means forgiving yourself when you aren’t perfect.
Are you on the priority list?
How might your current situation change if you added yourself to that list? Let me know in the comments.