You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Well, I’m going to say it anyway…Because we women need to hear it.
You matter! Your. Needs. Matter. You deserve to get enough sleep, eat delicious and nutritious food, exercise, spend time with friends, pursue your interests, and feel attractive. Balance is important, of course, but you have just as much claim on these things as anyone else in your family.
For those that feel a little lost in motherhood or life in general, it is an interesting place to be. After all, there was a time in your life when you were an egocentric teenager, around whom the whole rest of the world evolved. How did it come to be that your needs have ended up on the back burner?
Here’s my theory, and I believe we stepped into all of this pretty innocently. The quickest lesson I learned as a new mom was that my hungry, screaming baby got to eat before I did. Next lesson was that I didn’t get to sleep if he had other ideas at night. But here’s what nobody ever told us: that arrangement was just survival mode. That is not the kind of plan we were meant to stick with. Taking up permanent residence in that kind of paradigm is a quick ticket to losing touch with who you are.
Anytime I work with women who are in crisis, the story is always the same: they used to be happy, successful, organized, fit…you fill in the blank. But then some major life circumstances changed. A baby was born, they started working full time, someone became ill, etc. Suddenly, the old system didn’t work for them, and they were no longer capable of producing the same positive results. And because their systems didn’t evolve with the new circumstance, the outcome is predictable: they have become overwhelmed, unorganized, out of shape, and most of all – unhappy.
My first message to them? You are not the problem. It’s the old coping mechanism you adopted that was only ever meant to be a temporary solution. The bottom line is this: women who are happy and fulfilled and enjoying life have learned to put their needs back at the top of the priority list. And they don’t feel guilt. They don’t neglect responsibility. They have just instinctively embraced this truth:“A mother’s satisfaction with her own life is directly related to a young child’s social and emotional skills—even more so than the amount of time the kid spends in childcare, her income, or her job.” (reference http://lifehacker.com/this-infographic-reveals-how-to-raise-happy-and-healthy-1542169077)
Translation: Your kids learn how to be happy by watching you. And guess what? They can’t be fooled. Same story with your spouse or friends or anyone else in your life. I love these words from Mariann Williamson:“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
I don’t know about you, but that’s all I ever wanted for everyone I’ve ever prioritized ahead of myself. I just want them to shine. Turns out the best way I can help them do that is to lead the way.
And so here’s the list, for you list–lovers out there.
Five reasons why you should take care of Numero Uno.
You are teaching your kids how to take care of themselves. Want your kids to be happy and successful? You’ve got to show them how.
You can’t pour water from an empty cup. I’d be a rich woman if I had a dollar for every time I’ve repeated this old cliché, but I keep on saying it because we keep trying to prove that it’s wrong. But the truth? You can’t give the good stuff if you don’t have it to give.
The only life you can control is your own. Ouch! We spend an awful lot of energy trying to create a great life for our husband and kids. But in the end, it turns out they have to be the ones to choose it anyway. Don’t waste your time and energy; invest it in yourself, because your life is the only one you really have the right to control.
Whatever you do for yourself benefits your family. Pardon this metaphor, but you create an environment in your family that is like a virus. Positive energy, hope, and satisfaction spread quickly…as does resentment, dissatisfaction, martyrdom, and a poor self-esteem. The greatest gift you give to your family is your influence, so use it wisely.
You won’t resent things down the road. I have no interest in a mid-life crisis, which is exactly what happens after a few decades of self-deprivation. Ever see someone snap? You can bet that they have ignored desperate cues for years. Pay attention to those cues now! You’ll find happiness in the now, and peace in the years to come.
I would love to hear about some of the ways you are putting yourself first in your own life.
Image by Sandrine Hudgens at creoleartphotography.com