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Put Yourself on the Priority List

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?”

Never. Right?

So why is it ok to look in the mirror and say it to yourself?

It’s not.

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.

It’s taking a little time each day to re-fill your cup so you have something to give the ones around you.img_1303

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.

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  1. Aungelita Williams

    November 19th, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    I really needed to read this at the moment in which I read it.

    I’m an expert at putting everyone and everything ahead of ME.

    When I came across your blog, I was feeling so sad and overwhelmed because I’m 15 pounds heavier now that my baby is six months old than I was at my 6 week postpartum visit.

    Never in my life have I ever weighed this much. This is my third child but it’s my first time nursing. (My sons are 16 and 17).

    This post and the one about fat loss while nursing were true beacons of hope for me.

    Thank you

  2. Farrah

    April 27th, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    This article is definitely on time. I bash myself way too much. I am a mother of two girls, one is a newborn. Thank you for the reminder to be kind to myself.

  3. Deanna Schober

    April 28th, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Congratulations on your new baby girl! You are a rockstar!

  4. Dmmw

    April 27th, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    I have never felt so out of control. I’m so overwhelmed and overweight! I have been pregnant and/nursing for the past 2 years I have a 15 month old and a 3 month old. I thought having them back to back would be easier. Get the pregnant part out of the way, dipars at the same time, school will start at the same time. I thought it will be a tough first few years but easier overall… IT’S SO HARD!! I want to get fit again but my gym daycare got my whole house the stomach bug so I haven’t brought them back and dieting makes my milk supply drop. I have to go back to work next week. I’m embarrassed how out of shape I am.

  5. Deanna Schober

    April 28th, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    I totally understand! It is so hard!!! Even with just one, but having them that close together I’m guessing you probably always feel like you’re in survival mode! Don’t be embarrassed. You are a rockstar mom and at a unique point in your life where you’re not able to find much time for yourself. That’s ok. Make a list of 3 things you can do for yourself each day – 1 fitness or activity goal, 1 self-care goal, and 1 nutrition goal. Make them simple and achievable. Here’s more about how to do that: Hang in there!

  6. Stephanie

    May 12th, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    Wow! I mean this really hit home for me. Cause I have 15 billion things to do. Between work, the house, husband time, spending time with family and friends, doctor’s visits, and preparing for this beautiful or handsome first baby. I am already run down and it’s not here yet. So I have every good reason to work harder on myself. To be honest I wasn’t really healthy before getting pregnant at about 220lbs. Now I am 237lbs at about 2 months which is sortof normal for my family but I will have my first doc appointment on the 23 of this month. I have been doing alot of your techniques as far as what to eat so I hope the early pounds aren’t to serious.

  7. Virginia Norrington

    July 14th, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    I’m also working on this. great article.

  8. Mulalo

    September 11th, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Great article

  9. Patricia

    September 14th, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    This comes to me at perfect timing because I also joined a Self Care Challenge on Facebook with my naturopathic doctor! My daughter is now 10 weeks and I have a son that is 5. 2 children is certainly a game changer but thankfully I did not neglect myself….always a work in progress…oh the guilt if leaving to get to gym for an hour…however I am a better person for it. Thanks for these great reminders!

  10. Maria Caldwell

    February 21st, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    I am sitting here at the end of a very long day completely exhausted and I open this email. Wow, this article describes my daily strugglea and really hits home to some changes I need to make!

  11. Deanna Schober

    February 22nd, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Hugs, it’s not easy but it’s worth it 🙂

  12. Briana

    June 21st, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    WOW! The analogies used resonates with me still; of course I expect the healthiest lifestyle for my children and I try to provide that daily, and of course I desire for my 4 littles to match and look fashion fabulous when walking out the front door…..BUT….I give give give and never put myself first. It’s not that I forgot how to put myself first, but I just simply choose their wellbeing everyday instead of mine, and it’s literally killing my mental state!
    But, today I had a long talk with my husband and he said a simple phrase: “…what do you need me to do to help you…” What!?!!? I couldn’t give him reasons of how he could help but I gave him a wild emotional ride of where I was failing as a mother and how I just couldn’t do this motherhood thing anymore. It hit home, and all I could say was that I needed to go for a walk by myself to which he said: GO! Today my husband made me go for a walk, because after I said i wanted to go for a walk 1,00000000 reasons popped up of why I couldn’t simply step away because dinner needed to be prepped and the colicky newborn couldn’t possibly survive without me. Yet, when I finally left for a walk I came back so rejuvenated and ready to tell my husband ways he can help. It’s not like he never wanted to help, it’s just my fault for walking around and verbally putting up a facade that I didn’t need help! Today, I put myself first and tomorrow I am gong buy a few new shirts because self love can stem from feeling wonderful in your own clothing! I have always told myself with every child that I couldn’t go shopping until I hit my goal weight. But then i felt frumpy and messy and allowed this to become who I projected to to others….a dark depressing cloud1 🙂
    Tomorrow I am going to pick out a few shirts that represent myself and can allow me to be comfortable in this season of postpartum recovery and motherhood!

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