Most mums do an absolutely fabulous job. Looking after their children, taking care of their children’s welfare, picking up on their needs, putting them first.
And considering what a demanding, 24/7, unpredictable, constantly changing, constantly confusing and unutterably challenging job it is, it’s a wonder we survive really!
Mums give more than their energy; they give their souls too. Even more so at Christmas when I can remember wishing I was the little one again and someone else was doing it for me!
Yet there’s one thing I reckon that mums don’t do so well; look after themselves!
I notice this a lot when I’m in contact with other mums. I certainly noticed it when I was a new besotted mum doling out care and attention onto my child. And it was something my mum friends and I chatted about as well as our kids, what we did as mums, and how we felt.
How we felt was usually overwhelmed! It became clear that we were so busy attending to our kids we forgot to look after ourselves. Recognise what I’m talking about?
The crazy thing is this is counter-productive. It doesn’t do anyone any favours. It’s not logical. And it’s not best for the child either.
Look at it this way, a mum who is stressed, tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, is less likely to be able to deal with the challenge of parenting than one who’s rested, relaxed and happy. In fact when mums really get to this point it can be a danger to the child. So it’s in the child’s interest, even if not our own, to pay attention to our needs too.
It’s also in the child’s interests for another reason. A mum who is sacrificing her own needs is giving the signal to her child that she doesn’t matter. Mums matter enormously – that’s what children need to know – everyone needs to know it.
Children also need to learn how to look after themselves. Your demonstration of how a person does this, through the way you do it, is going to teach them this – not you neglecting yourself constantly. This just gives them licence to disregards others’ needs to fulfil their own. And although very young children do that, as they grow they need to learn differently. We all need to relate to others.
You will want to be the best mum you can be. The best way to do that is to look to your own wellbeing too. For all your sakes.
Some of the reasons we neglect to do it are to do with time, or energy, or guilt.
Time and energy are limited agreed. But they need to be managed so everyone gets a fair share. You included.
As for guilt; how did mums get such low-esteem that they feel guilty taking time for themselves? A reflection of society’s sad view of the importance of parenting perhaps.
But I look at it this way; mums do an essential job of raising new people. These new people matter – who knows what wonderful contributions they are going to make to the world? They could be the next Mandela or Brian Cox. That’s who you could be raising, or equally you could be raising someone who, although less glamorous, will make just as big a contribution. Because everyone makes an impact somewhere.
You want your kids to have respect. Respect for others and certainly respect for themselves. They learn that from the respect that you have for yourself – so what demonstration of that are they getting through the way you look after yourself?
Looking back to the lovely time when you’re raising kids I would say that one of the most important things you can do as a mum is look after yourself too. Make sure it’s something you get good at – you’ll be an even better mum for it – thus teaching the generations of mums to come!
(There are suggestions for ways to look after yourself in my latest book ‘Mumhood How to handle it Why it matters’. See the books page for details or click on the image. And I regularly post things of interest on my FB page, so pop over and see if you ‘like’ it, if you haven’t already!)