I’m embarrassed to confess that I suck at self-care. As a mother of a needy toddler, there are days when his neediness, urgent pleas for help, melt downs, short naps & early wake ups, send me adrift in the sea of his needs. Us moms are biologically wired to put our children’s needs before our own. We can’t say, “Sorry baby, I ‘ll feed you tomorrow”. That obviously wouldn’t be good for anyone. We’re wired to be laser-like attuned to what our little “demanding” people need, and often that means we tune out what our needs are. And the needs of our marriages and other important relationships can often fall even further down on the list of prioritized needs.
In graduate school, I learned all about the importance of self-care…blah blah blah. At the time, I was single and had plenty of time to take care of myself. A few years later I became a parent and was brought to my knees; exhausted from caring for my baby. Parenting is more work than a 40-hour a week job and it still truly takes a village of supportive people to make it work.
Here’s a secret I want to share. Most Mom’s I work with struggle with this too. I’ve had clients confess that they haven’t go on a date with their spouse for several years, or that they clean the house whenever they get a break. I’m going to venture to say most Mom’s struggle with making space to nurture themselves. Sometimes the things that prevent Mom’s from self-care are unconscious beliefs they have about motherhood and themselves. Here are a few common beliefs I’ve see interfere with creating space to refuel their emotional, physical & spiritual selves.
- Thinking and believing that my needs are “selfish”.
- Mom’s duty is always to put other peoples’ needs first.
- Mom’s feeling anxious about being separate from their child.
- Mom’s should be able to do it all.
- Asking for help means I’m weak or incompetent.
Logically we can agree that none of these make good sense. But our emotions don’t follow logic. Most often we learn our ideas of Mothering from how we were “Mothered” by people in our life. These Mothering templates usually override our conscious awareness. But the good news is that it’s changeable. There is a freedom that comes when I see the Mom’s dismantle these destructive unconscious beliefs that stifle their ability to nurture themselves. Mothering can be so very painful and nearly impossible when mothering from an empty cup.
If you feel like you forgotten about yourself, stop everything and make a list of things that fill you up. This is the most important thing you could do right now. Maybe it’s working out, or connecting with friends, or getting creative with how to get more sleep. If you have a newborn, maybe it’s simply to take a shower everyday. Whatever it is, make it a priority and do something for you EVERYDAY! Momma your needs are important too!
Things to Contemplate:
- What are your warning signs that alert you that you’re running dangerously on empty?
- Who can you recruit to lend a helping hand?
- What are some beliefs you hold about yourself or Mothering that are stopping you from prioritizing yourself.
Hillery Hafner, LMFT
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